Senate Bill 37, the school reopening bill, is not dead yet.
Both the state House and state Senate passed the bill requiring public schools in North Carolina to offer in-person instruction to students and sent it to Gov. Roy Cooper on Feb. 17.
Cooper had 10 days to make a decision on signing or vetoing the bill before it became law without his signature, and on Feb. 26 Cooper vetoed the bill.
On March 1, the Senate voted to override that veto and the override failed on a 29-to-20 vote. In the Senate, 30 votes are needed to override a veto. The bill had originally passed the Senate on a 31-to-19 vote, but only one of the three Democrats who had originally voted for the bill voted for the veto override.
Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke), one of the bill’s co-sponsors who voted for the bill originally, was not present for the override vote.
On Wednesday, March 3, according to President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), the Senate will vote to reconsider the override vote.
To bring a bill up for reconsideration takes a motion from someone who voted in the majority, which is usually the winning side. In this case the Democrats won because the vote failed to override Cooper’s veto, but the 29 senators who voted in favor of the override were in the majority, so any Republican senator or Sen. Kirk deViere (D-Cumberland), who voted for the override, can make the motion to reconsider the bill. The reconsider motion only needs a simple majority to pass.
Senate rules require that senators be given 24-hours notice before a veto override vote can be taken. Berger said that if the reconsideration passes then the override vote will be scheduled in accordance with Senate rules, which means it could take place as early as Thursday, March 4.
In a press release Berger said, “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. We intend to provide Sen. Clark the opportunity to advance the bill that bears his name.”