by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
****UPDATED JULY 9******
Wrapping up the 2020 Short Session, NCGA adjourned about 3:00 am on June 26 sending a flurry of bills to the Governor to sign. Since they did not adjourn sine die, and technically remain in session, the governor had 10 days from when he received a bill to sign or veto it. If he did nothing, the bill became law without his signature. He signed seventy three and let one go into effect without his signature (HB 77 – cleaning up DOT budget and making governance changes). He vetoed eleven bills during the short session, nine are back before the General Assembly for a very short session this week.
Prior to the end of short bills, he vetoed 2 during the short session; on 6/5/2020 he vetoed HB 536, that would have extended restaurant outdoor seating allowing them to serve more customers, it was sent to House Rules and on 6/19/2020 he vetoed HB 594, that would have allowed gyms and fitness facilities to temporarily open, an override attempt failed 66-53, with one lone Democrat voting with House Republicans to allow gyms to open.
On July 2, after the NCGA had adjourned, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed 8 bills:
SB 105 – Clarify Emergency Powers, requires the governor to seek concurrence from the Council of State before exercising his emergency powers under the Emergency Management Act. Passed House 63-53; Senate 26-17. Veto override failed 26-21.
The General Assembly attempted to offer relief to businesses shut down under the Governor’s executive orders, many holding on by a thread:
HB 258 – Open Amusement Parks/Arcades/Venues; Passed House 66-49; Senate 31-12. Withdrawn from veto override consideration.
On some process issues:
HB 918 – Expedite Permanency/DHHS Report SNAP/TANF, would make it easier for DSS to take into custody a baby born to a mother who abuses drugs or alcohol. Passed House 59-53; Senate 25-20. No override attempted.
HB 612 – DSS Review of Procedures/Criminal History/OAH, requires the Division of Social Services to submit any policies or procedures that might be considered rules to the Rules Review Commission for approval before July 1, 2022 or the rules would become null and void. Passed House 60-51; Senate 28-18. No override attempted.
And on constitutional issues:
HB 686 – Freedom to Celebrate the Fourth of July, many North Carolinians from the mountains to the coast celebrated Independence Day in spite of the Governor’s veto. Just check out many posts on social media for fireworks, flotillas, flags, parades and joyous celebrations of freedom. Passed House 67-47; Senate 21-18. Veto override failed 58-54.
On July 7, Governor Cooper vetoed SB 168 – DHHS and Other Revisions. This is the bill requested by DHHS with the controversial provision (see Sec. 2.5) about transparency of death investigation records with the state medical director. Passed House 109-1; Senate 43-0. No override attempted.
Veto override consideration begins in the body where the bill originated. All the House bills that the governor vetoed will be placed on the 07/08/2020 House calendar. No announcement yet on the Senate bills. A three-fifths majority vote of those present is needed in each chamber—30 votes in the Senate and 72 in the House if all members are present and voting.
During past 2019/2020 session veto override votes, for example HB 359, Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, SB 354, Teacher Pay Increases, and even HB 966, the biennial budget, the democrats in the General Assembly stuck with the Governor in sustaining his vetos, even when it was to the detriment of their constituents. What will they do now? Succumb to politics or govern? Succumb to politics.