Pilot Light: Lawmakers Override Veto
In a special Wednesday session, North Carolina legislators handily voted to override Gov. Mike Easley's veto of a bill easing boat towing restrictions.
Sen. Harris Blake and Rep. Joe Boylan, Moore County's state legislators, joined the majority in voting to override the veto and stick with the law passed in the 2008 session.
"I never saw it as a bad bill," Blake said Thursday morning. "There's really not all that much to it."
Boylan said, "I don't know why the governor chose to veto this law. There are very few incidences of accidents involving large boats being towed on highways."
Boylan said that over-size trucks, such as those hauling double-wide mobile homes, are traveling North Carolina highways all the time and, in his opinion, present a greater danger. He said many other large vehicles and trailers are using secondary roads that pose more serious danger to motorists.
HISTORY -- The Wednesday vote made history in North Carolina, because it was the first time the General Assembly has voted to override the governor's veto.
Easley is the first governor to exercise veto power.
Blake said the bill received "a lot of debate" in a couple of committees of which he is a member.
"I just didn't see anything wrong with the bill," Blake said.
Boylan likened enforcement of the state towing law to the golf cart law in Pinehurst, where an existing law was suddenly being strictly enforced after a period of lax attention to the issue.
Blake said the large boats are allowed on highways in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, but North Carolina law enforcement officers were stopping drivers and giving them tickets. Many of the boats were being hauled into the state to attend fishing and other tournaments at the coast, and the old law was giving North Carolina a bad name, he said.
Boylan added that the law was bad for tourism and bad for the economy but did not contribute much to the cause of highway safety.
House Bill 5712 eases the boat towing restrictions by allowing boats as much as 10 feet wide to be towed without a permit. It also allows watercraft as much as nine and a half feet wide to be towed at night.
HACKNEY -- House Speaker Joe Hackney was attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver and had to fly back to Raleigh to preside for the special session of the legislature.
Hackney, whose home is in Orange County, serves a district that includes one and a half precincts in Moore County.
Although he came back to preside for the session, a number of legislators did not attend the special called session. Ten or more members of each chamber were missing for roll call Wednesday morning.
The official vote in the Senate was unanimous, 39 to 0, although Sen. Ed Jones of Halifax County did vote against overriding the veto. However, his vote was paired with another senator's pro vote, meaning that the opposing votes canceled each other out and the total came out even. Blake said Jones is a retired major with the State Highway Patrol and probably supported the veto because of his law enforcement background.
The vote in the House was 95 to 8 to override the veto. Opposition to the veto was bipartisan. Blake and Boylan are Republicans.
COBLE -- Congressman Howard Coble addressed the Greensboro Republican Women's Group Tuesday and met with the News & Record editorial board in Greensboro that afternoon.
Coble, a Republican representing the 6th District, met with constituents with appointments in his Asheboro office Wednesday morning, then toured the McDowell Lumber Co. and the new USDA Service Center, both in Asheboro.
Congress is on its late summer break.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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