Cooper Vetoes First Bill Of GA’s Short Session

By Theresa Opeka
Carolina Journal

Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed his first bill of the General Assembly’s short session on Thursday.

H.B. 198, DOT Legislative Changes-AB, was proposed by the state’s Department of Transportation in the executive branch. It would allow late fees for toll roads to increase by 50%, plus allow for cutting trees alongside roadways so drivers would have a better view of billboards from a distance. Cooper had also vetoed a similar bill in 2019, but with a Republican supermajority in place, it could be overridden.

“Protecting North Carolina’s beauty should be a top priority, but this legislation allows tree cutting and destruction of native plants around billboards,” Cooper said in a press release. “In February, I signed Executive Order 305, which sets comprehensive goals for restoring and protecting natural areas, prioritizing native plants, and planting one million trees. North Carolina’s scenic landscapes are one of the reasons why our state just broke records with our tourism economy, and why we have one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. Therefore, I veto the bill.”

Specifically, the bill includes:

  • Removing protections for redbuds.
  • raise toll road late fees by 50%
  • Increasing the area that can be cleared along major roads from 350 to 500 feet.
  • Increasing the area that can be cleared without a permit by 50%, from 200 to 300 feet.
  • Making it harder for the Department of Transportation to deny billboard relocations. 

Senate Transportation Committee Chairs Sens. Michael Lazzara, R-Onslow, Tom McInnis, R-Moore, and Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, released the following joint statement on Cooper’s veto.

“House Bill 198 is bipartisan, compromise legislation that the governor’s own transportation agency helped put together. Gov. Cooper’s partisan veto of this bill shows he values his relationship with Green New Deal liberal advocacy groups more than implementing good policy,” they said. “We look forward to overriding Gov. Cooper’s latest misguided veto.”

Theresa Opeka is the Executive Branch reporter for the Carolina Journal.


  1. They need to ban people that try to tell other people what they can do with their own land

  2. Why would people need to see billboards from a greater distance? You drive right by them. All its going to do is make it where there are less trees by roadways and hence its going to make the hot summer days hotter. More roads and less trees equal bad times. It pains me to no ends to say this but I agree with the idiot in the Governor’s Office for once.

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