House overrides NCAE bill veto in unprecedented midnight session

Posted January 5, 2012

In an unprecedented move early Thursday, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to hold a special legislative session after midnight for veto overrides, prompting a sharp rebuke from Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

Perdue said the Republican-controlled legislature's actions were unconstitutional.

The House voted 69-45 to override the governor's veto of Senate Bill 727, which stops the North Carolina Association of Educators from collecting dues from teachers' paychecks via payroll deduction.

The day's veto session was limited by the state constitution to consideration of Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 9, the Racial Justice Act repeal. The Senate overrode that veto handily. But the House failed to muster the needed Democratic votes, so the measure was sent to a committee for further study. 

House Republicans and Democrats reportedly agreed that S9 would be the only bill debated in the special veto session. But GOP leaders reneged on the deal, opting instead to amend an adjournment resolution to call themselves back into yet another special session after midnight to take up other veto overrides.

The move wasn’t confirmed by GOP leaders till 11:15pm. The surprise session was scheduled for 12:45am, just 90 minutes later.

House Democrats, already in the minority, tried but failed to derail the gambit, calling out Republicans for failing to give public notice that other bills would be taken up.

“These bills were debated extensively during session. They’ve had full vetting,” responded House Rules chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. “Whenever the will of the majority is to pass legislation without further delay, we should move forward.”

“Do you think 1:05 AM is a good time for the public to participate in this debate?” asked Paul Luebke, D-Durham.

“No time is better than the present,” Moore replied.

“The public is totally cut out of the debate here.” Luebke retorted. “It’s really a shameful way for us to do business in the General Assembly.”

In the Senate, GOP leaders had already decided they wouldn’t take up any veto overrides after midnight. But debate raged over whether the Senate should approve the resolution allowing the House to do so.

“The people of this state should be told when matters this serious are going to be taken up at 12:45 in the morning. This shouldn’t be happening,” said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, blaming the surprise session on the political feud between the House and Governor Perdue.

Senator Josh Stein, D-Wake, said the move was “a disgrace to this institution and to the 9 and a half million people in this state.”

“The North Carolina House has the distinction of making the US Congress look like a functional institution,” said Stein. “If you enact this resolution, you are complicit with what’s going on over there.”

The extra override

House leaders had considered override votes on the Voter ID bill (H351) and the drilling/fracking bill (S709), even passing out talking points on those bills. But in the end, the only veto they had the votes to override was that of a bill removing the right of members of the NC Association of Educators to have their dues collected automatically from their paychecks.

Republicans said the override was a strike against organized labor. Democrats countered that it was political payback for NCAE’s political activity during the budget battle earlier this year – an argument bolstered by closed-caucus remarks by Tillis, inadvertently broadcast to the press corps last summer.

The Senate had overridden the veto earlier this summer. The House found enough votes to follow suit, in part because five Democrats were absent due to illnesses, deaths in the family, and foreign travel. Dems0105 Democrats decry late-night surprise session

Two Democrats joined the GOP to give them the needed override margin – Reps. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, and Bill Brisson. NCAE lobbyist Brian Lewis said afterward Brisson told him he’d had to make a trade-off to save the Racial Justice Act, but Tillis denied any such deal was made, and Brisson was unavailable for comment. 

Lewis said his group will challenge the law in court. He and some Democrats say the measure is unconstitutional because it singles out one group as the subject of punitive legislative action. Other groups with dues checkoff privileges were not targeted.

Tillis: "This should be a learning experience"

Tillis defended the post-midnight session. “Some people that probably don’t like the fact we’re here tonight. But the fact of the matter is we got it done, we’re out of here, we’re saving money and going back home.”

“I’ve made it very clear from the beginning that that unfinished business will be taken up when we have the opportunity to override the vetoes,” Tillis said. “Everybody should know. The public should know, or any of the vested interests.” 

It’s not clear how the public would know lawmakers would vote on other veto overrides besides S9. None was on today’s agenda. But Tillis said it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. “Everybody knows that anytime we come into a general session, that those matters are on the calendar, and this should be a learning experience.” Tillis Tillis explains the midnight session

Tillis didn’t deny that that “general session” wasn’t announced until nearly midnight, but he says it was conducted under the standing rules of the House.

Another reporter asked whether the House under Tillis’s leadership is transparent.

“I think so,” Tillis answered. “Far more than any one that I’ve served under.”

Dems: “Pure chicanery”

House and Senate Dems were joined by party chairman David Parker for a 1:45am press conference to respond to the late-night session.

Parker called the night’s events “pure chicanery.” And Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, called them “a sham and a shame.”

Democrats said the late-night session was unconstitutional and unethical, and would poison the little bipartisanship left in this legislative session. Lewis NCAE responds to override

“When people make agreements and then break them within a matter of hours,” said Ray Rapp, D-Madison, “trust is gone.”

Watch the raw video at right.


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  • greg69innc Jan 8, 2012

    I am a conservative and I feel like Tillis needs to bend over and receive a swift kick in the pants.

  • greg69innc Jan 8, 2012

    Any group that would allow children to go hungry, homeless, and without while their parents were not able to draw their unemployment benefits so they could go out and find a job are just spineless and gutless individuals and nothing surprises me for what antics they will pull. Yes Buck Newton I voted for you but allowing children to go through the added stress you did was too much for me. Quit using your position as a position of power and SERVE the people of NC even the ones you dont necessarily agree with and lets move our state forward.

  • Obama 2012 Jan 7, 2012

    BIlzac- I'm happy to see some Republicans have a sense of honesty. While politically I can't disagree with you more,I think honesty, and a sense of honor is something we can all agree on.

  • BIlzac Jan 6, 2012

    This legislative majority makes me ashamed to be a registered Republican. Thom Tillis is a deceitful, hateful, and vindictive man who has no business holding political office, let alone being in a position of leadership.

    Leaders don't get even. They don't lose in the first place.

    Leaders aren't spiteful. They charm their enemies into compliance.

    Leaders aren't two-faced. They are who they are, regardless of where or who they are with.

    Tillis and his lapdogs know that this little piece of revenge will lose in the courts. Unless they change the legislation and make it illegal to have ANY payroll deduction, this is nothing more than a hateful attack against a political opponent.

    Heck, if this union is so doggonned weak and pathetic, why are TillBerger and the others so worked up about them?

    We'll see what everyone thinks of this when they have to stop United Way, 401(k), savings, college fund, and other deductions because of this law.

  • BIlzac Jan 6, 2012

    It's amazing to me that people would post on this topic when they have absolutely no knowledge of NCAE, being a teacher, paying union dues, payroll deduction, etc.

    It's like wearing a sign saying, "I is not very bright, I just like to hear myself talk."

    No teachers are forced to join any teachers organization or union. Period. Those who say otherwise are liars, plain and simple. I've been in this teaching business for 16 years and in three different school systems. It simply does not happen.

    Are you encouraged to join? Yes, perhaps. Though at my current job it has never even been mentioned to me. But pressured? Never.

    And for the other uniformed individuals out there - neither the NCAE nor the NEA are able to "take money automatically" from your pay without your permission. I mean, please people.

    This legislature, Republicans in particular, seem to be operating under the "let's stick it to them while we can" approach. I won't be voting for any of them.

  • Come On_Seriously Jan 6, 2012

    The meat of the bill is less concerning than the method used to get the override.

    Since everyone has short memories of what they think they know-the difference in the lottery vote and this one (and I am not defending the lottery) is that the lottery vote was scheduled for 4 days- not 90 minutes to be held at 1 am when there could be no public involvement.

    For Tillis to justify it by saying that 'Everybody Should Know that this is unfinished business that will be taken up when we have the opportunity to override the vetoes,' is childish.

    In other words, if we can't win the ball game fairly, we'll wait until the other team is short on players and then call 'time in' and catch 'em by surprise. We can circumvent the balance of power meant to keep a small majority from doing crazy things like this (still not lottery scenario).

    If the people of NC wanted a conservative supermajority that could override the veto (without slimy, hypocritical tricks), we would have elected one.

  • PlainNSimple Jan 5, 2012

    Please remind the Democrats and Bev that the precedent was set by the Democrats when Easley wanted the lottery approved, even though most residents did not. It wasn't "unconstitutional" when the Democrats did it!
    Why would the State administer a program to collect and distribute dues for an organization? And, in spite of what Bev is saying, I can't see how NOT collecting these fees is harmful in any way to our teachers and students or their education! Those type comments are only made to slant the facts and make this an emotional issue.
    I have to write a check to pay my dues and fees, I don't expect the State to administer my bills and responsibilities for me!

  • rapmkp Jan 5, 2012

    Didn't the Democratic controlled legislature pass the lottery in much the same way. As I recall they waited until certian Republicans were not available then called for the vote.

    As for the dues being collected by the state of NC, why do tax payers need to pay for the collection of union dues for anyone. Theres still no free lunch for the working class.

  • blackdog06 Jan 5, 2012

    But that just proves what the companies and the rich CEOs are all about... taking everything they can from the workers and when nothing's left to take, move the jobs overseas. Things finally reached the point that a guy working in the factory couldn't afford the rent on his trailer and the payment on his pickup. So he finally had to say 'take this job and shove it'. Unfortunately, not all the factory workers know who is for them and who is with the factory owners and CEOs.

    Dont you have something to go occupy? Maybe all workers should strike and all jobs companies go overseas. Then you can see how well the government will take care of you. People own businesses to make a profit not give out money. If the workers doesnt want to work for what he/she gets, last time I checked it is a free country they can go elsewhere. This country is going to fall into a 3rd world mire because instead of winners we are whiners.

  • Equinox Bandingo Jan 5, 2012

    ...Sometimes you have to stick together to deal with someone who would steal the shirt right off your back. If you let them.
    Okay so NCAE is not a union...who cares? In rebuttle to the above...because of unions wanting more than they should, or not willing to come to a realistic negotiation, hence why if you go overseas and see this, you also find the results of unions...the jobs go overseas.
    'unions wanting more than they should' good one! Truly, Truly amusing! Too bad that jobs went overseas. But that just proves what the companies and the rich CEOs are all about... taking everything they can from the workers and when nothing's left to take, move the jobs overseas. Things finally reached the point that a guy working in the factory couldn't afford the rent on his trailer and the payment on his pickup. So he finally had to say 'take this job and shove it'. Unfortunately, not all the factory workers know who is for them and who is with the factory owners and CEOs.