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NC Gov. Cooper vetoes building code and charter school bills

Republican lawmakers and the state's Building Code Council are in disagreement over a proposal to update state energy efficiency standards for new home construction.
David Boraks
Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would block new energy efficiency standards for new home construction.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed two bills — one that would prevent the governor-appointed state Building Code Council from updating energy efficiency rules for new homes until 2031 and another that would change the way charter schools are approved.

The Republicans' legislative supermajorities could override the governor's vetoes, as legislators plan to do soon with other bills Cooper has vetoed, such as restrictions on trans athletes playing on women’s sports teams.

House Bill 488, which is backed by the North Carolina Home Builders Association, also splits the council into two separate bodies and divides appointments between the Republican-led General Assembly and the governor, who is a Democrat.

The City Council spent two years drafting the energy efficiency rules and plans to vote on them in December. Supporters say stricter requirements for windows and doors, insulation, and heating and cooling systems would save homeowners money through lower energy bills. And they say lower electricity use would help the state meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

But the Home Builders Association argues it would make homes unaffordable. Emails between the organization and lawmakers show that the homebuilders' group helped write key sections of the bill.

In a veto message, Cooper said the bill also could disqualify North Carolina from Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. And he said it violates the state constitution.

"This bill stops important work to make home construction safer from disaster and more energy efficient, and ultimately will cost homeowners and renters more money," Cooper said. "The bill also imperils North Carolina’s ability to qualify for FEMA funds by freezing residential building code standards. Not only does the bill wipe out years of work to make homes safer and more affordable, it also violates the Constitution by rigging the way rules are made."

The veto drew applause from Cassie Gavin, policy director at the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, who said in a statement: "The bill would prevent experts at the NC Building Code Council from modernizing our outdated state energy conservation codes despite the significant energy savings that would be realized. We call on legislators to sustain this veto to support energy efficiency, an important tool to keep homes affordable in an era of rising electric bills.”

Charter school bill vetoed

Cooper also vetoed a bill that would take away the power to approve charter schools from the state Board of Education and give it to an appointed board.

In a statement, he said, "This bill is a legislative power grab that turns that responsibility over to a commission of political friends and extremists appointed by Republican legislators, making it more likely that faulty or failing charter schools will be allowed to operate and shortchange their students.”

Cooper also signed 11 bills into law and allowed two others to become law without his signature, the "Property Owners Protection Act," which updates the definition of trespassing, and a Department of Public Safety bill.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
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