Wednesday’s failed override vote may not be the last one on House Bill 2, the anti-healthcare mandate bill. Speaker Thom Tillis and the House GOP caucus executed a parliamentary maneuver today that will likely let them bring it back to try again sometime later this session.
Next week, Tillis says, the House will vote on a “reconsideration” motion – a second chance – that will bring the failed bill back to life. At that point, he says, they’ll send it to a committee and wait for the right moment to bring it back out.
House Republicans don’t have the votes needed to override a veto. They need four Democrats to join them. Yesterday, none did, so the override failed. But Tillis thinks over time, some might change their minds. Or maybe they'll just miss session.
According to the state constitution, a veto override requires a vote of three-fifths of the present and voting members. If seven Democrats were to be absent on the same day, the House Republicans’ 68 votes would become enough to override a veto.
“I think what it says is, you better show up for work,” Tillis said today.
Neither the state constitution nor House rules sets a time limit for lawmakers to try to overturn a veto while they’re in session. It really hasn’t been an issue before. State governors have only had the veto since 1996, and only one has ever been overridden – Mike Easley’s veto of a 2007 measure allowing larger boats to be towed on NC roads. That one happened pretty quickly.
But it’s not just House Bill 2 that’ll be waiting in the wings, Tillis said. Every bill returned with a veto stamp will be kept on hold along with it, and all of them could reappear on any day of the two-year session.
“The governor needs to understand that every bill that gets vetoed will remain active. And we will take a vote when we can potentially change votes, or at the appropriate time. That is our policy. In other words, it’s not over.”
Tillis says putting overrides on hold will give the House more leverage in dealing with Perdue. “This is a device that we can use to make sure that vetoes are rare,” he said. “It’s up to the governor to balance her desire to veto a bill against the added pressure that will be exerted at this end of the street.”
Perdue’s spokesperson Chrissy Pearson called the tactic “unproductive.”
“It does nothing to help North Carolina move out of this recession,” Pearson said. “While these guys continue to carry on over House Bill 2, the governor’s in California trying to recruit jobs. We’re scratching our heads.”
Pearson doesn’t think the GOP strategy will change Perdue’s approach. “No one should believe for a minute the governor enjoys vetoing bills,” she said. “The governor continues to hope that at some point, we’ll see some reasonable legislation being passed, so we won’t have to worry about the veto anymore.”