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Six new laws overcome gubernatorial veto

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(The Center Square) – Republican three-fifths supermajorities – 30 in the Senate, 72 in the House – are in the process of reversing North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes, and Democrats by the dozen who supported the bills are reversing their votes.

The latest action was Tuesday, when a modern-day record six bills became law on override votes – five in the House of Representatives, and a sixth late in the day in the Senate.

The new laws prohibit environmental, social and governance factors in government hiring and financial decisions; prohibit compelled speech in state employment; address counties or municipalities that fail to submit annual independent audits to the Local Government Commission on a timely basis; include two separate acts that deal with fees and interest rates for loans; and puts the North Carolina Farm Act into place.

The General Assembly is 8-for-8 reversing Cooper vetoes this session.

In all eight, no Republican has voted “no” in either chamber.

Among Democrats, all 18 senators and 30 of 42 in the House have either voted against the override after previously favoring the piece of legislation, or not voted while present. Six senators have done it four times each, and six representatives have done it three times each.

In original passage of legislation, two Senate votes were unanimous and two others had nine or fewer Democrats supporting them. No less than 16 votes were against each of those overrides.

Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, has voted for the override – maintaining his original vote – on the two pieces of legislation that deal with fees and interest rates for loans, Senate bills 329 and 331, and on the annual independent audit bill. He had an excused absence for the override vote on the Farm Act he favored.

In the House, Reps. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, and Michael Wray, D-Northampton, have each favored four overrides – the Farm Act plus the same three as Woodard. Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Hoke, has favored the override three times; and Rep. Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg, and Rep. Nasif Majeed, D-Mecklenburg, once each.

No other Democrats have challenged the party or governor.

Cooper has vetoed 83 bills since taking office in January 2017, a new state standard.

Republican supermajorities were in place until the 2018 midterms and were 23-for-23 in overrides in that time. The GOP kept a majority but was short the three-fifths supermajorities required by law to override in the next two sessions, and Cooper’s vetoes stayed in place amid 13 bills getting at least one chamber’s attempt to override from 2019-22.

The following is a summary of the six new laws, and a comparison of the override votes to final passage sending it to the governor’s desk:

House Bill 750, to prohibit environmental, social and governance factors in government hiring and financial decisions: House, 76-41 passage, 72-46 override; Senate, 29-18 passage, 29-18 override.

Senate Bill 364, to prohibit compelled speech in state employment: House, 72-46 passage, 72-47 override; Senate, 30-15 passage, 30-18 override.

Senate Bill 299, to allow the Local Government Commission to withhold a small portion of sales tax distributions from local governments that submit audits more than a year late: House, 84-30 passage, 75-44 override; Senate, 43-0 passage, 31-16 override.

Senate Bill 329, amending the retail installment sales act, impacting fees and interest rates on loans and purchases: House, 93-22 passage, 76-43 override; Senate, 34-9 passage, 31-16 override.

Senate Bill 331, amending the state consumer finance act, impacting fees and interest rates on loans: House, 87-28 passage, 76-43 override; Senate, 46-0 passage, 30-16 override.

Senate Bill 582, the North Carolina Farm Act, which generated debate on size, definition and impact of wetlands: House, 77-38 passage, 78-40 override; Senate, 37-6 passage, 29-17 override.

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