Several possible veto overrides are in the air as legislators reconvene later this month to discuss Gov. Bev Perdue’s record-breaking 15 vetoes. The question remains as to whether both chambers have the three-fifths majority needed to bypass the Governor’s signature and ratify these bills into law. Below are the top six bills to watch as the legislators get one last shot for the 2011 session.
HB 854, “Women’s Right to Know Act” requires an informed consultation, an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period for women before choosing to abort a pregnancy. This bill passed in the House 71-48, only one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. Speaker of the House, Rep. Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) has not said definitively whether the House will attempt to override the bill, but it is likely given the bill’s popularity with pro-life constituents. HB 854 passed 29-20 in the Senate, with one Republican, Sen. Stan Bingham (R – Davidson) voting against the bill and one Republican, Sen. Richard Stevens (R – Wake) choosing not to vote. If either of these representatives changes their vote, the bill will be overridden in the Senate.
HB 2, “Protect Health Care Freedom” would make North Carolinians exempt from the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The bill would also pave the way for North Carolina to join several states in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Obamacare legislation. HB 2 was vetoed by Gov. Perdue on March 5. On March 9, the House attempted to override the veto but failed with a vote of 68-51, falling short of the three-fifths majority required for an override. The House would need only four more votes in favor of the bill to successfully override it later this month.
SB 781, “Regulatory Reform Act of 2011” prohibits state agencies from issuing regulations not required by the federal government or state law in an effort to increase transparency in the regulatory process. Gov. Perdue vetoed this bill because it would “take the final decision-making authority in certain circumstances and instead give it to the Office of Administrative Hearings.” The bill is a possible candidate for override. It passed the House with 65-43 and the Senate 43-0. It would need seven additional House representatives to vote yes on the bill in order to meet the override standard.
SB 33, “Medical Liability Reforms” caps non-economic damages awards in medical liability cases to $500,000 and expands protections to emergency room providers. Gov. Perdue vetoed this bill because she said it would not adequately compensate people who were catastrophically injured. The bill passed 62-44 in the House and 32-9 in the Senate. It needs to find ten additional votes in the House to override. It is a long shot, but definitely a possibility.
SB 351, “Restore Confidence in Government Act” is more commonly known as the “Voter ID bill.” This politically charged piece of legislation would require photo IDs at the voting booth in an effort to eliminate voter fraud. Rep. Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) has already announced that the House plans to override this bill which originally passed 62 – 51 in the House and 31-19 in the Senate. It would require an additional ten votes in the House to override Perdue’s veto, which is unlikely because the original vote was decided strictly along party lines. The attempt to override, however, would make a clear statement to Republican constituents about Republican legislators’ commitment to voting reform.
SB 727, “No Dues Checkoff for School Employees” eliminated the automatic payroll dues deduction for the North Carolina Educators Association (NCAE). Gov. Perdue vetoed HB 727 saying that it was a deliberate political attack on public school teachers. This bill passed in the Senate 31-16 and in the House 62-52. It would need ten additional votes in the House, so there is only a very slim possibility of an override. But it does seem probable that Republican legislators will decide to attempt the override in order to emphasize their dedication to school reform.
The leaders of both chambers have made no definitive statement about which bills they plan to revisit later this month, presumably because legislators and lobbying groups are still pursuing efforts to win the extra votes needed to override these key vetoes.