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April 19, 2019

Governor Roy Cooper made history when he vetoed SB 359, the "Born Alive" bill that could criminalize some doctors that perform abortions even as they follow the standards of care established by their medical boards.

Democrats have been waiting for this. With the additional seats they won in both the NC House and Senate in 2018, Governor Cooper has the votes needed in his own party to sustain his vetoes. Despite that, Republicans will do everything possible to create a situation that allows them to win the day and the over-ride vote.

The Governor has 30 days after he receives the approved bill to issue his veto. There is, however, no deadline for the General Assembly to take the over-ride vote. In addition, the state constitution requires three-fifths of the members present and voting in each chamber to vote for the over-ride. If all members are present in both chambers, that would be 72 votes in the NC House (120 x 3/5 = 72) and 30 votes in the NC Senate (50 x 3/5 = 30). But, if all members are not present, the numbers change. That means Republicans can wait until enough Democrats are absent to give them the numbers they need to win. But, is that realistic?

This is a Senate bill so the Senate will vote first on the motion to over-ride. In the NC Senate, Republicans hold 29 seats; Democrats hold 21. With all members are present and voting, Republicans need just one Democratic vote to have the 30 votes needed to win. The voting history of the bill reveals that two Senate Democrats voted for the bill: Sen. Ben Clark and Sen. Don Davis. https://www.ncleg.gov/Legislation/Votes/RollCallVoteTranscript/2019/S/92.

Of course, the Governor's office and Democrats in the NC Senate and all over the State will pressure these two senators to support the Governor. Let's assume they agree to support the Governor and vote NO on the motion to over-ride the veto. There is still another way for Republicans to win. If two Democrats are absent and all Republicans are present, three-fifths of those "present and voting" would be 28.8 or 29 (48 x 3/5= 28.8), which the Republicans have on their own. Given that Republicans can wait until they have the numbers, it's certainly possible that the NC Senate could vote to over-ride the veto. What about the NC House?

In the NC House, Republicans hold 65 seats; Democrats hold 55 seats. If all NC House members are present and voting, Republicans would need seven Democratic votes to have the 72 votes needed to win. The voting history of the bill shows that four Democrats voted for the bill: Representatives Gailliard, Graham, Pierce and R. Smith. In addition, five Democrats were absent: Representatives Brockman, Goodman, Quick, K. Smith and Wray. https://www.ncleg.gov/Legislation/Votes/RollCallVoteTranscript/2019/H/175. Rep. Gailliard, Pierce and Quick are all pastors who oppose optional abortions on religious grounds as do many black voters across the state who are active in their churches.

Given these strongly held religious convictions, it's possible some House Democrats will vote YES on the motion to over-ride. It's unlikely, however, that they can get the seven votes they need, assuming all 55 NC House Democrats are present and voting. That's especially true given the argument the Governor made in his veto message, "Laws already protect newborn babies and this bill is unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients. This needless legislation would criminalize doctors… for a practice that simply does not exist."

If, however, five House Democrats were absent and all Republicans were present, it would take just 69 votes to over-ride the veto (115 x 3/5 = 69). In this unlikely case, if four House Democrats were to vote Yes on the motion to over-ride, NC House Republicans would prevail. Although it’s technically possible, it is highly unlikely.

Every North Carolina State legislator, as well as all concerned voters across the state, will be paying close attention until this issue is resolved. State legislators are now taking a Spring holiday. If you want to follow this issue, the first day the veto over-ride vote could take place in the NC Senate is April 29th. If that happens, the House over-ride vote would be on April 30.

How to Engage

It's tough to keep track of what is happening. Here are some ways to stay involved.

1. Call me or my legislative assistant Young Bae at 919-733-7208 or email me at Inskola@ncleg.net with How can I get involved in the subject line.
2. Follow us on Twitter at @verlainsko and Facebook at Verla Insko.
3. Visit ncleg.net where you can see bills, listen to session, and see daily calendars.
4. Help us spread the word on social media or by forwarding this newsletter and other alerts or key news items.

As always, thank you for your support of my work in Raleigh as your representative. Please let me know of your position on issues, your suggestions for legislation and your requests for help.

Verla Insko

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Verla Insko, NC House · 300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 502 LOB · Raleigh, NC 27603-5925 ·
Phone (919) 733-7208 · Mobile (919) 618-9889 · E-mail verla.insko@gmail.com or verla.insko@ncleg.net