RALEIGH – One of Governor Roy Cooper’s first unilateral edicts at the beginning of the Pandemic Panic was to mandate the closure of bars and restaurants. The state legislature passed a bill Thursday that would overturn the bar closures, partially, but the legislation’s chances of surviving a veto are uncertain.
Since the start of the Pandemic Panic Governor Cooper has signed several executive orders to selectively disenfranchise whole groups of people from business owners to churchgoers. He might have gotten the impression that he has the power to write laws; so the actual lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly reminded him that they are the ones that write legislation.
House Bill 536 would allow for temporary outdoor seating and allow limited capacity indoors for bars/restaurants, doing an end run around Cooper’s executive order to shut bars down. Restaurants were allowed to offer take out or delivery orders, and have since opened to diners at 50 percent capacity, but bars have received zero relief from the lockdown.
Meanwhile, you can buy a beer in a restaurant — you can even sit at the restaurant bar next to other people — but an actual bar or tavern that serves only alcohol? King Cooper says no.
“On a day when we’re seeing some of our highest numbers of hospitalizations and death, the Senate wants to open bars. Now, I know that it is a tough time for a business, and I believe that there will be a time when we can open bars. But that time is not now.”
A normal recession where people have less money to spend, and more reasons to save, is a ‘tough time for business.’ An executive order mandating you completely close your business for months? That’s a death sentence.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, Cooper’s 2020 opponent for governor, applauded the bipartisan passage of the bill and urged the governor to sign it and let people get back to work.
“I commend the bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly for passing a bill that would allow bars to serve customers in outdoor dining areas just like restaurants can. Unless the Cooper administration can provide specific science and data that proves sitting outside a bar is more dangerous than sitting outside a restaurant, this should become law – letting more North Carolinians get back to work.”
Realistically, Cooper will probably say no to this bill with a veto, though he has not specifically threatened one yet. The legislation passed with a veto-proof majority in the Senate, but after the governor whined about lawmakers passing laws that contradict his royal decrees, most Democrats in the House fell in line behind the governor. It passed, but with only a simple majority before being presented to Cooper.
The governor may not like it, but lawmakers are acting on behalf of small-business owners that are on the brink of ruin, not to mention all the (supposedly) free people of this state that may have the audacity to think they can make a safety decision about going to a bar all by themselves without the patronizing permissions of Roy Cooper.
“This bill does very little except to allow some people to get back to work. It’s that simple,” said Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Craven) as reported by Spectrum News. Cooper may not like it, but, Speciale asserted, “we get the overriding opinion on it because we’re the lawmakers.”
Still, if enough Democrats side with the governor in keeping these businesses shut down, all in the name of exaggerated fear and government control, the change won’t come for a while. By then it maybe too late for so many businesses out there.
Then again, there’s an outside chance that Cooper let’s the bill become law while protesting the notion of reopening too early. It’s an outside chance, for sure, because Cooper and many of his comrades in the Democratic Party have taken a liking to micromanaging our lives how they see fit. They’ll milk this emergency to maintain such a power as long as they can, hoping to make some of the growth in government permanent.
Read the bill here, and call on your Democratic legislators to override any veto from the governor.