Veto overrides delayed again; some may never come

Posted August 29

This is a shot of the entrance area to the N.C. Legislative Building.

— It's looking less likely that legislators will attempt this week to override Gov. Roy Cooper's six remaining vetoes, and at least some of those vetoes look likely to hold long term.

Republican Senate leaders dropped a pair of override votes from their calendar Tuesday, and afterward, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said the body was waiting on the House to send over three other potential overrides before acting.

House Rules Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, didn't foreclose the possibility that those votes will come before legislators gavel out of session later this week, but the suggestion was clear in his ever-careful language.

"I expect," Lewis told reporters asking about the vetoes, "the focus of this week will be squarely on redistricting."

Both chambers have all but completed their work on redistricting, approving their own maps Monday and moving the other body's map through the relevant committees Tuesday. They're slated to take final, and at this point all-but-perfunctory, votes either Wednesday or Thursday, wrapping up the session until October.

Without any veto action on the chamber floors Tuesday, both the House and the Senate gaveled in and out of session without voting on any legislation.

It may be that one chamber, or both, is withholding action as a bargaining chip. Among the override votes pending in the House, there is at least one bill that was a higher priority for the Senate: House Bill 205, which would allow local governments in Guilford County to run legal notices online instead of paying to advertise them in local newspapers.

It passed the House in June only after the Senate delayed action on separate legislation, but it passed without the three-fifths threshold needed to override. Also pending in the House:

  • House Bill 511, which provides a carve-out from the state's anti-gambling laws to allow charities to hold casino-night events. It passed the General Assembly with enough votes to beat back the veto, but not if the 30-plus Democrats who voted for it switch positions to support Cooper.
  • House Bill 576, which would allow landfills to spray the liquid that leaches out of the trash back onto the landfill, the theory being that the water evaporates and the heavier elements simply fall into the pile.

The House has already voted to override Cooper on two other bills, but they're awaiting action in the Senate:

  • House Bill 140, which expands the allowed sale of credit property insurance. Consumer advocates have flagged part of the bill as an enabler for predatory lenders.
  • House Bill 770, a grab-bag bill that deals with a number of sections of state code and includes language that would allow an employee at the state Industrial Commission to also draw a check from the state's Property Tax Commission despite state rules against double-dipping on salary.

Berger, R-Rockingham, said the Senate majority hasn't made a "firm decision" on whether it will proceed with its override votes if the House doesn't move on the ones it has left. But he said a couple of times that they're "waiting on the House to send us three more."

The Senate also hasn't scheduled an override vote on Cooper's veto of Senate Bill 16, a mix of regulatory changes that the governor objected to because it would roll back some stormwater rules.

Not only are these six bills Cooper vetoed still awaiting override votes, there are a number of bills the two chambers never came to agreement on during the regular session earlier this year. Those could be added to floor calendars before the General Assembly wraps up its work for the week.

They may also wait for legislators to return to session in October when, at least in the House, legislators plan to work on a judicial redistricting proposal.


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