Under the Dome

Without signature, Perdue lets bill become law

Gov. Bev Perdue chose not to sign the last bill on her desk.

The deadline for Perdue, a Democrat, to sign or veto House bill 1292 has come and gone, which means the bill became law today. The law is meant to encourage UNC campuses to find ways to save energy and cut utility bills.

The bill allows campuses to keep money they save through conservation. The law requires that in the next year, 60 percent of the money must be used on conservation. The bill says the governor cannot cut the budget to campuses because they were able to save money on utilities.

Perdue, in a letter to the House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate Leader Marc Basnight, objected to that provision, saying it infringed on the authority granted to her office by the state constitution.

"This limitation on the Governor’s discretion is contrary to separation of powers principles and must have escaped your attention, when added in the final days of the legislative session," Perdue wrote. "Nothing in the State Constitution suggests that the Legislature has any power to tell the Governor in advance how she should exercise her discretion in proposing a budget to the Legislature."

A spokeswoman for Perdue said the objections are strictly on the legal principles and not on the issue of energy conservation.

"The governor clearly supports the energy conservation measures," said Chrissy Pearson. "The overall intent of the bill, to encourage the university system to go greener, she supports."

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