Try, Try Again: NC Senate to Reconsider Veto Override for School Reopening Bill

NC General Assembly Senate chamber

RALEIGH – If at first you don’t succeed; try, try again.

That’s the plan for the N.C. Senate, as a motion is expected Wednesday to reconsider the (unsuccessful) veto override of Senate Bill 37, the bill requiring in-person instruction in each district.

The motion to reconsider requires only a simple majority to pass, and then the veto override can be placed back on the calendar no less than 24 hours later.

One Democratic sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke), was curiously absent for the veto override vote. Excused absences are not unusual, but is nonetheless notable when it’s a vote to override a veto of legislation you’ve co-sponsored.

That effort failed by one vote in Clark’s absence, who explained to the Associated Press that he was engaged in work for his employer (a defense contractor at Fort Bragg). Asked how he would have voted, Clark demurred:

“I had my preference,” he added, pointing out he was a bill cosponsor “and have a desire to get students back into the classroom quickly and safely. Yet, I must acknowledge that acting upon my voting preference was and always is subject to several factors on the ground at the time of the vote.”

It’s worth reiterating that Clark is relatively less beholden to partisan politics; not immune to it. Let’s hope his desire to see kids’ education restored as soon as possible is strong enough to withstand the pressure he’s under from Democrats and Governor Roy Cooper to sink the effort.

From WBTV:

“[…] If the motion to reconsider the veto override is passed, Sen. Clark will have the opportunity to provide the critical vote necessary to advance his bill over Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.

State lawmakers say Wednesday’s vote on the motion to reconsider is not a vote on the override. The override vote will take place at a later date to comply with the requirement in the Senate’s rules to provide 24 hours notice in advance of a veto override vote.

Senate rules allow “any senator who voted in the majority [to] move to reconsider the vote thereof.”

Twenty-nine senators, which is a majority, voted in favor of the March 1 veto override attempt. Therefore, any senator who voted in favor of the veto override may move to reconsider the vote.

A motion to reconsider will succeed if a simple majority, which is 26 senators, votes to support it.

Sen. Ben Clark cosponsored Senate Bill 37 and voted for its passage the first time around. He was absent from yesterday’s veto override attempt, and if he voted ‘yes’ then the override would have been successful,” said N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “We intend to provide Sen. Clark the opportunity to advance the bill that bears his name.” […]”

The pressure is on for Sen. Clark, who is known as a pragmatic, independent thinker that is relatively less beholden to partisan politics, especially when it comes to education.

As mentioned above, while the motion is voted on Wednesday, the second attempt at an veto override must wait until 24 hours later, at least. With any luck, SB37 will become law, notwithstanding the objection of the governor, by the weekend.

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