NC Senate Republicans fail to override Cooper veto on mask bill

The effort related to a February bill Gov. Roy Cooper rejected that would have let parents opt out of mask mandates for their children.

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K-95 mask hangs over the Raleigh skyline. Photo taken May 22, 2021.
Laura Leslie, WRAL capitol bureau chief,
Bryan Anderson, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican state senators on Wednesday failed to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision last month to reject a bill that would’ve let parents opt out of mask mandates for their children.
That bill passed both chambers of the legislature with support from enough Democrats to override a potential veto.

But the two Democratic state senators who supported the bill last month, Ben Clark and Kirk deViere, voted against the effort to let the bill become law without the governor's signature. Had it passed, it would've still needed the support of state House lawmakers in order to go into effect.

Since breaking the Republican legislative supermajority in 2018, Democrats have never provided the votes needed for a Cooper veto to be overridden.

Republicans on Wednesday approved a motion to reconsider the bill, which keeps it alive by allowing the measure to be brought back up. Though it's not officially dead, the bill is unlikely to become law.

Cooper, a Democrat, rejected the bill last month, writing in a veto message that it could “encourage people to pick and choose which health rules they want to follow” and “tie the hands of public health officials in the future."

School systems put mask mandates in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many of those mandates have been dropped as cases have declined.

Clark and deViere face tough elections this year, with Clark vying for a congressional seat in a Republican-leaning district that could elect incumbent Rep. Richard Hudson.

Cooper on Tuesday endorsed Val Applewhite, a primary challenger to deViere.


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