ROCKINGHAM — For Rockingham Sen. Gene McLaurin, the decision to take part in the General Assembly’s override of vetoes issued by Gov. Pat McCrory on immigration and public assistance legislature was simple — the bills, he said, are “good policy.”
McCrory’s vetoes of the Reclaim N.C. Act, which would direct the Department of Public Safety to study measures for addressing illegal immigration, and the Drug Screen Applicants for Public Assistance bill, which would require applicants to some public assistance programs to successfully pass a drug test, were struck down Wednesday.
McLaurin, a supporter of both bills since their inception, said he was acting on principal.
“If you’re going to be in a Work First public assistance program, you need to be testing negative for any illegal drug presence,” said McLaurin, a democrat who serves as president of Swink-Quality Oil. “That’s what you are going to have to do when you enter the private sector for employment, and it’s what I have to do in the business I manage with 30 employees.
“I’m subject to random testing, just like everybody else here.”
McCrory has said he will refuse to implement measures in the bill until the proposed testing is properly funded, but McLaurin said that he has been “assured by the bill’s sponsor that the funds are in the budget to pay for the testing.”
McLaurin said he was compelled by an outpouring of support from farming and agriculture advocacy organizations to vote for an override of McCrory’s veto of the Reclaim N.C. Act, an action by the governor he said was “surprising.”
McCrory said in a statement that he worries the immigration bill might cost “legal North Carolinian’s jobs” by increasing the amount of time seasonal workers are allowed to stay at work, but McLaurin said that he expected to hear from the senator personally.
“He really didn’t explain to me a good reason in support of his position,” McLaurin said. “And the public support of that veto has been very supportive.”
The agriculture industry accounts for close to 20 percent of the state’s total employment and contributes about $75 billion annually to the state’s economy, and that should not be forgotten, McLaurin said.
“I talked to a lot of farmers and agriculture organizations, and everyone I talked with was supportive of this legislation,” McLaurin said. “I believe we need to support our farmers and agricultural community.”