Last week in the North Carolina General Assembly was fast and furious. After assuming we were adjourned until September, we were called back just a week into the summer break. We took up several veto override votes, confirmed some of the appointments by the Governor and legislative leaders, and made some last minute changes to deadlines for permits and wearing of masks.
On Wednesday we took up four bills in the House that the Governor had vetoed. To override a veto the House and Senate must vote to override by a margin of three-fifths of those present and voting. For example, if all 120 members in the House are present, then 72 members must vote Aye on the question to override. In the Senate it is 30 of the 50 members.
Three of the four bills came to a vote and one was withdrawn from the calendar. All three of these got over 50% of the votes cast, but failed to get the required three fifths. So all four vetoes were sustained. The bills were:
House Bill 806 – Open Exercise and Fitness Facilities, House Bill 686 – Freedom to Celebrate the Fourth of July, House Bill 652 – 2nd Amendment Protection Act, and the one withdrawn was House Bill 258 – Open Amusement Parks/Arcades/Venues.
Most of these are explained in the titles, but House Bill 652 actually allowed concealed carry in religious gatherings when the church property is used for a school, but NOT while school is in session. This got the most controversy, but it simply sought to make these churches equal to other churches that don’t have schools using their property. Those churches can already defend their members. Although it originally passed with 77 votes, it only got 66 override votes. So, the override failed and it will not become law.
Senate Bill 226 – Delay Certain ABC Permit Renewal Payments allows that businesses with ABC permits can delay renewing them until 90 days after they are allowed to reopen for business. It passed 102 – 0 in the House and the Senate 46 – 0 and is awaiting the Governor’s signature as of this writing.
Senate Bill 232 has a long title but primarily allows the wearing of masks for health and safety reasons past the previous deadline of August 1st. So, they are still legal as long as necessary for health and safety as well as the other exceptions in the law, such as Halloween, parades and celebrations. It got an almost unanimous vote and was signed into law by the Governor last Friday.
The Senate took up several overrides of vetoed Senate bills. None passed by three fifths, so they didn’t come over to the House for our votes.
We now anticipate that we will be out of session until September 2nd.