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North Carolina House OKs rules with new override process

The North Carolina House of Representatives' meeting room
North Carolina General Assembly
WUNC, file

The permanent rules for operating the Republican-controlled North Carolina House for the next two years were approved by members Wednesday, despite objections from Democrats that they make it easier for GOP lawmakers to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Temporary rules approved last month omitted an element from previous years requiring chamber leaders to give at least two days’ notice before holding an override vote.

Wednesday's final rules package says an override vote may be taken on the same day a veto message is received from Cooper or from the Senate, or on “any other legislative day it is printed” on the chamber’s official agenda.

House Republicans hold a 71-49 seat margin, one vote short of a supermajority. That means they can override a veto if at least one Democrat joins them or if two Democrats are absent — even briefly — as long as GOP members are all present and united.

Seeking to allay fears of Democrats, House Rules Chairman Destin Hall, a Caldwell County Republican, said that while the GOP majority would aim to override every one of Cooper's vetoes, “it's not our job to do that through trickery and deceit.”

But House Minority Leader Robert Reives of Chatham County said the provision makes it harder for legislators — whose jobs are already viewed as part-time — to meet scheduling demands back at home and in Raleigh.

The chamber rejected a pair of amendments from Democratic Rep. Brandon Lofton of Mecklenburg County that would have placed additional restrictions upon veto override attempts.

Five Democrats joined all Republicans in voting 76-43 for the rules package.

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