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Override challenges expected for three gubernatorial vetoes

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(The Center Square) – Veto override challenges are expected for three bills rejected Wednesday by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

The legislation involves women’s sports; parents, school children and their respective educators; and the medical actions permissible for minors and doctors involving gender identity. More than two dozen bills remain on his desk awaiting decisions, and the state budget – with an annual start date of July 1 it did not make – is yet to be sent to him.

Cooper, the term-limited Democrat rendered lame duck status for the next 18 months by Republican supermajorities in the Legislature, said the three bills were “a triple threat of political culture wars.”

Infamous for implementing a myriad of pandemic lockdowns resulting in learning loss among students, Cooper criticized lawmakers for invasion of “rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children and damaging our state’s reputation and economy.” He backed forced COVID-19 shots – controversial in effectiveness and legality – while saying Wednesday of the bill involving gender transitions by minors, “A doctor’s office is no place for politicians.”

Cooper called on the 170 members of the General Assembly to invest “in public schools and teachers.”

The Senate and House of Representatives previously expressed intent to go this holiday week without voting measures. The chambers are 8-for-8 each on override attempts this session; Cooper now has 11 vetoes this session. State law requires three-fifths majorities – 30 Senate, 72 House, if all are present – to override gubernatorial vetoes.

House Bill 574 would prohibit public middle and high schools, colleges and universities from allowing biological males to participate on female sports teams. Amendments in the Senate removed restrictions on biological women playing on men’s teams, as well as references to collegiate intramural sports.

Former University of North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, registered to vote as unaffiliated, testified in favor and cited fairness issues with scholarships and recruiting.

“We’ve worked so hard over the last 50 years to get where we are,” she said in committee. “We need to not allow transgenders to compete against females.”

Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, responded to the veto saying, “There are inherent biological differences between men and women. Governor Cooper has no interest in supporting female athletes, only his far-left donors that want to erase women by refusing to acknowledge biology.”

Senate Bill 49 enhances public school transparency, outlines the rights and responsibilities of parents, and installs guardrails on curriculum dealing with gender identity and sexual orientation. Also, the law would subject state employees to disciplinary action if they attempt to encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from a parent.

Bill sponsor Sen. Amy Galey, R-Alamance, told the House rules committee the legislation was motivated in part by parents who raised concerns about school materials and instruction while helping their children with remote classwork during the pandemic.

While Cooper rejected the bill, his comments included, “Parents are the most essential educators for their children.”

In a joint statement, Galey and Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, said, “Governor Cooper continues to mislead the public about the Parents’ Bill of Rights so he can drum up manufactured outrage and rake in donations. This bill encourages collaboration, promotes transparency, and keeps classrooms focused on educating, not indoctrinating.”

House Bill 808 would ban gender transition procedures, puberty blockers, and cross sex hormones for minors. Democrats described the legislation as “government overreach” and “political opportunism” that would hurt children with gender dysphoria and result in lawsuits.

Stephen Klein, a medical doctor, testified in the Senate Health Care Committee that puberty blockers are associated with higher rates of suicide, noting estrogen and testosterone are critical for proper brain development.

Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, said of Cooper’s veto, “The open-door policy of allowing children to permanently change their gender is reckless, and rightfully questioned by the medical community. While Governor Cooper has turned a blind eye to the protection of children, the Legislature is taking the safest approach by limiting access to these life-altering medical procedures until a child comes of age.”

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