By Bill Randall
North Carolina's Republican Governor Pat McCrory is in the hot seat. In addition to dealing with and answering incessant questions on matters relating to the state, he has vetoed two pieces of legislation passed by the GOP majority in the state's general assembly.
The two laws opposed by McCrory are mandatory drug testing of state welfare recipients, and exempting businesses from compliance with federal E-verify criteria, extending guest worker visas from 90 days to nine months. GOP lawmakers are threatening to override McCrory's vetoes.
In 2012, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker showed strong resolve in his battle with state employees to bring the Badger state's budget under control. Walker and Wisconsin's GOP-led legislature sang from the same song-sheet. The chairman of North Carolina's GOP may attempt to portray this incident as a form of musical syncopation. But in actuality, the governor and legislature are off key on these two pieces of legislation.
McCrory's vetoes reflect courage and principled leadership. Republicans generally strive to limit entitlements, but McCrory saw the requirement for drug testing as overstretching government authority. He believes that if a potential recipient meets eligibility criteria on the basis of financial circumstances and need, the added burden of drug testing may have a dehumanizing effect.
It is difficult enough for a mother with small children to face abandonment. While there are many others than abandoned mothers who qualify for welfare, McCrory's veto has a measure of compassion and preservation of individual dignity that surpasses concern for recipients' possible drug use.
McCrory's second veto not only provided pushback on the GOP legislature, but against the powerful Farm Bureau lobby in North Carolina. In this instance, he again stood on principle:
"This legislation has a loophole that would allow businesses to exempt a higher percentage of their employees from proving they are legal U.S. citizens or residents," McCrory said. "Every job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen."
This does not catapult McCrory to true conservative status. But in a day and age where politicians stick a wet finger in the air to see which way the political wind is blowing, it is refreshing to see a leader who, regardless of the level of opposition, acts on what he believes is right on behalf of the people who elected him.