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North Carolina governor vetoes masks bill largely because of provision about campaign finance

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North Carolina governor vetoes masks bill largely because of provision about campaign finance
News

News

North Carolina governor vetoes masks bill largely because of provision about campaign finance

2024-06-22 02:36 Last Updated At:02:40

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Despite changes made to North Carolina's masking bill to quell concerns over the removal of a pandemic-era health exemption, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he vetoed the legislation on Friday mostly for a different reason: a campaign finance provision tacked on to the end during legislative negotiations.

The bill now heads back to the state legislature. Republicans hold narrow veto-proof majorities at the General Assembly, which overrode all 19 of Cooper’s vetoes last year.

It's Cooper's third veto of the year, and GOP lawmakers have yet to take up override votes on his previous two this session — although they may come soon.

The original bill version that passed through the state Senate prompted significant criticism over its removal of an exemption to public masking laws passed in 2020 that allowed people to wear a mask for health purposes. The exemption's removal would have technically made masking for health reasons illegal in the state.

While the strikethrough of one line caught most people's attention, the majority of the bill focuses on increasing penalties for people who wear masks while committing a crime or intentionally blocking roadways in demonstrations. Republican legislators advanced the legislation this session in part as a response to the use of masks during widespread campus protests over the war in Gaza, including demonstrations on the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina.

The bill's relatively smooth passage through the Senate stopped when it reached the state House, however, when Republican Rep. Erin Pare announced on X she wouldn't vote for the bill without a health exemption. Because Republicans need every GOP vote to pass more polarizing legislation, the bill was sent to a committee of legislators to work out a compromise.

They reached a deal on the bill earlier this month, which notably added a health exemption for people who wear a “medical or surgical grade mask” to prevent the spread of disease. Law enforcement and property owners would also be allowed to ask someone to temporarily remove their mask to identify them under the new bill changes.

But another brand-new provision that caused outrage among Democratic legislators was the addition of a campaign donations clause that would allow wealthy donors to give money to special federal political organizations that can then send the money to state and county parties.

Cooper said in his veto statement that the legislation “created a gaping loophole for secret, unlimited campaign money” that could cause problems during an election year. He also said the legislation still does not fully protect people who wear masks for health reasons.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina backed Cooper's veto, with policy counsel Reighlah Collins calling the bill “anti-protest” legislation that would hinder people's First Amendment rights.

But one of the primary proponents, Robeson County Republican Sen. Danny Britt, said in a statement that Cooper's veto encourages “bad actors” to wear masks to conceal their identity and not face consequences.

Republicans have also defended the election finance addition as necessary to remedy problems with a 2020 State Board of Elections advisory opinion that affirmed campaign giving limits but hamstrung groups like the Republican Governors Association from aiding the state party.

Senate Democrats refused to vote on the bill because of the provision, and House Democrats expounded upon their worries that the legislation would create a lack of financial transparency in lengthy debate last week.

The House and Senate expect to take up their veto overrides next week before they go on a possible indefinite hiatus to resolve budget issues.

FILE - Gov. Roy Cooper talks during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., April 24, 2024. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, June 21, 2024, vetoed North Carolina's masking bill that previously removed a pandemic-era exemption that allowed people to mask in public for health reasons. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP, File)

FILE - Gov. Roy Cooper talks during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., April 24, 2024. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, June 21, 2024, vetoed North Carolina's masking bill that previously removed a pandemic-era exemption that allowed people to mask in public for health reasons. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP, File)

FILE - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks, May 2, 2024, in Wilmington, N.C.Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, June 21, 2024, vetoed North Carolina's masking bill that previously removed a pandemic-era exemption that allowed people to mask in public for health reasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file)

FILE - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks, May 2, 2024, in Wilmington, N.C.Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, June 21, 2024, vetoed North Carolina's masking bill that previously removed a pandemic-era exemption that allowed people to mask in public for health reasons. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file)

CABOT, Pa. (AP) — A fire truck carried Corey Comperatore’s flag-draped casket to a Pennsylvania church on Friday for the funeral of the former fire chief, who was shot and killed when a gunman tried to assassinate former President Donald Trump last weekend.

Hundreds of firefighters arrived at the church in a procession of over 100 trucks in a show of support for Comperatore's grieving relatives and friends. Outside the church, a massive American flag hung from the ladder of a fire truck.

A sharpshooter team mounted on a nearby rooftop served as a reminder of last weekend's bloodshed. Officials have said that Comperatore spent his final moments shielding his wife and daughter from gunfire at Trump’s rally last Saturday in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Trump, who suffered an ear injury in the shooting but was not seriously hurt, is not going to the funeral because of Secret Service concerns, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Annette Locke, a member of the West Deer Township Volunteer Fire Department, stood across the road from the church and lightly touched her heart as she spoke about the horrific toll from the “totally senseless" shooting.

“He was with his family on a beautiful sunny day, and now he’s gone,” Locke said.

Joe and Jen Brose stood at the edge of their driveway with their three young boys, all dressed in T-shirts celebrating the USA, watching the long procession of fire and emergency trucks go by.

“The community comes together at times like this,” Joe Brose said.

“I thought it was very heartwarming, it was very humbling to see it,” said Jen Brose, whose sister had attended the Trump rally.

Trump honored Comperatore during his speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. He displayed Comperatore's firefighting gear on the convention stage, kissing his helmet and heralding the ex-chief as “an unbelievable person.”

Comperatore, 50, worked as a project and tooling engineer, was an Army reservist and spent many years as a volunteer firefighter after serving as chief, according to his obituary.

On Thursday, thousands of mourners filed into a banquet hall to pay their respects to Comperatore and his family. Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday at a vigil for him at an auto racing track.

Guests at Thursday's visitation for Comperatore saw a slideshow of photos from his life — his wedding, a recent 50th birthday party, time with his daughters, firefighting, fishing, and palling around with his Dobermans. Also on display was a framed copy of a note to Comperatore’s wife signed by Trump and former first lady Melania Trump.

"Corey will forever be remembered as a True American Hero,” the Trumps wrote.

A statement issued Thursday by Comperatore's family described him as a “beloved father and husband, and a friend to so many throughout the Butler region.”

"Our family is finding comfort and peace through the heartfelt messages of encouragement from people around the world, through the support of our church and community, and most of all through the strength of God," the statement said.

Two other people were wounded at Trump's rally: David Dutch, 57, of New Kensington, and James Copenhaver, 74, of Moon Township. As of Wednesday night, both had been upgraded to serious but stable condition, according to a spokesperson with Allegheny Health Network.

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Merri Cambo, left, of Saxonburg, Pa., and her friend, Jane Wesolosky, of Buffalo, Pa., react as the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes by, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Merri Cambo, left, of Saxonburg, Pa., and her friend, Jane Wesolosky, of Buffalo, Pa., react as the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes by, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A flag is seen before the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A flag is seen before the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

People wait for the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

People wait for the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Jane Wesolosky, of Buffalo, Pa., waves a flag as the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Jane Wesolosky, of Buffalo, Pa., waves a flag as the funeral procession for Corey Comperatore passes, Friday, July 19, 2024, in Sarver, Pa. Comperatore, a former fire chief, was shot and killed while attending a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A giant American flag is unfurled outside the Cabot Church, in Cabot, Pa., Friday, July 19, 2024, before the funeral service for Buffalo Township Volunteer fireman Corey Comeratore, who was killed at a Pennsylvania rally for Donald Trump, Saturday, July 13, 2024. Corey Comperatore's quick decision to use his body as a shield against the bullets flying toward his wife and daughter rang true to the close friends and neighbors who loved and respected the proud 50-year-old Trump supporter, noting that the Butler County resident was a "man of conviction." (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A giant American flag is unfurled outside the Cabot Church, in Cabot, Pa., Friday, July 19, 2024, before the funeral service for Buffalo Township Volunteer fireman Corey Comeratore, who was killed at a Pennsylvania rally for Donald Trump, Saturday, July 13, 2024. Corey Comperatore's quick decision to use his body as a shield against the bullets flying toward his wife and daughter rang true to the close friends and neighbors who loved and respected the proud 50-year-old Trump supporter, noting that the Butler County resident was a "man of conviction." (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pennsylvania State Police arrive at the Cabot Church, in Cabot, Pa., Friday, July 19, 2024, before the funeral service for Buffalo Township Volunteer fireman Corey Comeratore, who was killed at a Pennsylvania rally for Donald Trump, Saturday, July 13, 2024. Corey Comperatore's quick decision to use his body as a shield against the bullets flying toward his wife and daughter rang true to the close friends and neighbors who loved and respected the proud 50-year-old Trump supporter, noting that the Butler County resident was a "man of conviction.". (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pennsylvania State Police arrive at the Cabot Church, in Cabot, Pa., Friday, July 19, 2024, before the funeral service for Buffalo Township Volunteer fireman Corey Comeratore, who was killed at a Pennsylvania rally for Donald Trump, Saturday, July 13, 2024. Corey Comperatore's quick decision to use his body as a shield against the bullets flying toward his wife and daughter rang true to the close friends and neighbors who loved and respected the proud 50-year-old Trump supporter, noting that the Butler County resident was a "man of conviction.". (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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