On Wednesday, for the first time since 2018, the North Carolina House successfully voted to override a Governor Cooper veto on Senate Bill 41. The bill will now become law.
The vote was 71-46, with three Democrats notably absent: Reps. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, and Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford.
A veto override requires a three-fifths vote in the House, and 71 out of 117 votes is greater than the three-fifths required.
Rep. Destin Hall, the House Rules chairman, stood up to present the vote to override, saying that the House had debated and discussed this bill in committee for weeks, and the bill had already received two votes on the House floor.
The House then voted to move to the previous question, which means they decided to hold a vote to override without continuing the debate on the bill.
Rep. Robert Reives, the Democratic minority leader who hails from Chatham County, stood up immediately afterward and called for debate anyway. He was out of order, meaning he was breaking the rules by speaking outside of the parameters of the House rules.
Reives was in discussions with Hall and Republican leaders earlier this year when the rules were being finalized. He is also an attorney and has been a member of the House for 11 years.
Reives was not allowed to speak under the House rules. The vote to override was held.
Following the vote, Reives rose for a “point of personal privilege,” which is a speaking privilege that members typically use to recognize a fellow member’s birthday, to say happy anniversary to their spouse, or to invite their colleagues to a meeting.
Instead, Reives addressed the elementary school students and teachers who were watching from the balcony.
“I would just like to say to all the people that are here, the teachers and students, thank you for being here,” Reives said. “I want to apologize on behalf of this body for you seeing what you just saw. Your teachers will explain it to you. We are a deliberative body. We recognize all viewpoints, but that was not shown to you today, and that breaks my heart.”
Many of the Democrats applauded Reives’ comment.
Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, added to Reives’ comment. He said that teachers could also tell the students that the House process abided by their rules. Torbett also said his grandson was one of the students in attendance.
On Tuesday, the N.C. Senate first voted to override the bill by a vote of 30-19.