Thursday, May 28, by a bipartisan vote, the North Carolina General Assembly sent Gov. Roy Cooper a message, “We’re back.”

Cooper has been running the state through executive orders since March. In a state of emergency the governor has vast powers, such as the power to order people to stay home, close their businesses and wear masks.

But now the state legislature is back in session and the legislature is accustomed to having some say in how the state is run, and it let Cooper know that with its vote to allow bars as well as restaurants to open under restrictions.

The law allows bars and restaurants to open outdoor seating areas at 50 percent of their indoor capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.

Cooper in his explanation on why bars were not allowed to open under the same restrictions as restaurants, offered no data, science or facts to support his decision.

In a press release, Speaker of the state House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said, “We join our colleagues across the General Assembly urging Governor Cooper to sign this legislation immediately to offer a lifeline to thousands of businesses across North Carolina through a safe, commonsense policy that is supported by the science and data.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is the Republican candidate for governor, said, “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.”  

The state House passed the bill by a 65-53 vote and the state Senate by a vote of 42-5.

Cooper has three choices with the bill. He can sign it and becomes law immediately. He can not sign it and it becomes law after 10 days or he can veto it and send it back to the legislature. It appears the Senate would not have any trouble overriding the veto, which requires a three-fifths majority, but it might be a problem in the House.