Saturday, December 29, 2018

NCGA overrides veto of bill containing municipal charter school provision

aShortChronicle has been telling readers about the brinksmanship going on in Raleigh as CMS does whatever it can to stop municipal charter schools from opening and diluting its control over education in Mecklenburg County.  Keep in mind, none of the towns that have been granted permission for these schools have applied to open them, or that these municipal charter schools would alleviate future overcrowding since CMS does not plan to build more schools in North Meck for the next decade.  That hasn't stopped CMS and Governor Cooper from moving to thwart them even as a possibility.

As expected the swirl around this went down to the wire, but in the end, it wasn't really that close.  As one of its final acts before adjourning, the Republican supermajorities in Raleigh overrode Roy Cooper's veto of S469 on Thursday.  That's the catch all "technical corrections" bill that included a provision allowing employees of any future municipal charters to join State benefit programs.  CMS has vigorously opposed this bill due to it including this provision and Governor Roy Cooper cited this provision as one of the reasons he vetoed the bill.

On Thursday, the House voted 70-40 and the Senate voted 31-10 easily surpassing the 60% of votes cast needed for an override.  Outgoing NCGA members Rep John Bradford and Sen Jeff Tarte voted to override the veto in what were largely party line votes.  Three Democrats in the Senate also voted to override the Governor.

With Republicans losing their supermajorities in the next Legislature, votes like the one in the Senate could be more interesting.  Republicans will hold 29 seats in 2019, one short of what is needed to override a veto.  However, in a hypothetical situation where they peel off 3 Democrats, they could still override vetoes in that chamber with all members present.  On the House side it will be more difficult to do the same.  Republicans will hold 65 seats, but need 72 votes to override if all members are present.  Getting 7 Democrats to cross the line will be much more difficult.  However, overrides could still happen if more Democrats are not present for some reason allowing the 60% threshold to be met with less than 72 votes.  That is effectively what happened this time with Republicans only needing 70 votes to get 63% of the votes cast.

Mecklenburg County will likely be even more on the outside looking in during the 2019-2020 session than it has in the past.  With only one Republican (Sen Dan Bishop of South Charlotte) as part of the Mecklenburg delegation it is hard to see the county getting a lot of love from the new legislature if it means giving Democrats political wins.  How the county's new NCGA members navigate that environment will be interesting to watch.  Democrats Natasha Marcus of Davidson and Christy Clark of Huntersville are set to be sworn in next week as the area's new Senator and Representative as Tarte and Bradford leave office.

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