LEGISLATIVE REPORT - September 20, 2019
After a couple of contentious weeks at the legislature, both chambers have decided to take a break from Raleigh to return to normal business on Monday, September 30th. With the Senate out of town, the fate of the veto override is still up in the air, but we can expect both sides of the aisle to be better prepared when the vote is taken in the Senate. Per Senate rules, the Senate Rules chair must give the minority leader at least 24 hours’ notice that a vetoed bill may be considered by the Senate.
After legislators return to the General Assembly, we can expect another delay on the override vote. After Sen. Dan Bishop won the 9th Congressional District special election, he resigned from the General Assembly. Until a replacement is appointed for this Republican seat, it is unlikely that an override vote will be taken. Along with Sen. Bishop’s seat, Republicans will also need one Democrat to vote with them on the override, which appears to be an uphill battle for Republicans after many Democrats have already publicly stated that they will vote to sustain Gov. Cooper’s veto. After what happened in the House, that many Democrats are calling an ambush, the pressure is on for Senate Democrats to stand together and sustain the veto.
If the votes are not there to override the budget, the Senate could likely return to passing mini-budget bills. The Senate may try to take their time on the veto override with hopes of adding extra pressure on the Governor to come to the negotiating table. After losing the House in what the Governor called a new low, the pressure is likely gaining on the Governor to consider all of his options moving forward. If Gov. Cooper can get the full support of all Senate Democrats, the override may never be taken up, but then Republicans could still push through mini-budget bills to be able to get their priorities funded without need of a compromise. It is possible under the circumstances that the Governor may reconsider a compromise with Republican leadership, but that would require a new position on Medicaid expansion and the Governor has been clear this entire session that Medicaid expansion is his top priority. If the budget debate can come to a close then it is likely that this session will also be at its end, but time will tell. As you can see, we have many questions with few clear answers.
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