- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory never used his veto stamp on the bills left behind on his desk when the General Assembly adjourned last month.

The Republican governor announced he had signed nine additional bills - including three in a Friday morning ceremony in Charlotte - but declined to put his signature on two others addressing industrial hemp and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. That means the two also would become law after midnight Friday - the close of a 30-day window for McCrory to address legislation.

The industrial hemp law creates a commission that in part would work to get federal regulatory approval for a pilot program to cultivate the crop, which has manufacturing uses from car parts to upholstery and rope.

The hemp has a small fraction of the active ingredient that produces the high in marijuana, and that link once derailed nationwide production. But federal legislation now allows industrial hemp to be grown for research purposes.

In a statement, McCrory said the hemp bill had good intentions, but more details were needed to make sure agricultural and research goals were met. He urged lawmakers to keep studying the issue. The bill surfaced in the final days of the session.

“A strong regulatory framework to safeguard against abuse is critical to its success and the safety of North Carolinians,” McCrory said.

McCrory earlier had addressed concerns about the UNC bill, which passed the General Assembly just before midnight on the session’s last full day.

The bill required the Board of Governors members to consider at least three candidates in choosing a new system president. That provision is basically moot because the board elected Margaret Spellings last week. While the bill was pending, presidential search leaders said they would follow the legislature’s wishes.

“We have many years until the next search and therefore ample opportunity to debate the effect of this legislation,” McCrory said. The law also limits board members to three full four-year terms starting in 2017. The Senate and House elect the 32 board members.

Another bill McCrory signed late will let a Beaufort County hospital whose doors were shuttered last year avoid some regulatory hurdles as local leaders look to reopen it. Election officials also now must place the party affiliation of each Court of Appeals candidate next to the person’s name or indicate if that person is unaffiliated. The races would still be considered officially nonpartisan.

Altogether, McCrory vetoed two bills this year: a measure that would allow some court officials to decline to perform duties related to gay marriage based on religious objections, and a bill that would give companies the ability to sue people who nefariously enter a business or get hired solely to dig up dirt on the company. McCrory vetoed the latter bill because he said it didn’t include enough protections for legitimate whistleblowers. The GOP-led General Assembly overrode both vetoes.

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