On Wednesday, both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly overrode six of Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes, a new record, ensuring the bills become law despite Cooper’s objections.

“While Governor Cooper has tried to stand between parents and their kids, today the NC House will continue to affirm parent’s rights, protect female athletes, and advocate for the health and safety of our children,” Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said of the House’s role in the override votes.

Senate Bill 49: Parents bill of rights

The “Parents’ Bill of Rights” (S.B. 49) “strengthens the rights of parents in regard to the education of their children… ensures age-appropriate material is being taught to the youngest students, and keeps parents informed on the well-being of their children,” according to a press release from Senate Republicans.

According to a Washington Post/KFF survey, 77 percent of adults think it’s inappropriate for teachers to discuss trans identity in public schools with students in K-3.

Sen. Amy Galey, R-Alamance, was the bill’s chief sponsor.

“Democrats want to keep North Carolina’s education system shielded from parental accountability,” Galey said following the override vote. “They want to use our schools to advance their partisan, political agenda instead of working to improve student outcomes. The Parents’ Bill of Rights fights back against those efforts. It increases accessibility to what’s being taught in our schools, notifies parents of the well-being of their children, and keeps school curriculum focused on core subjects.”

The bill passed in the Senate along partisan lines by a vote of 27-18 and cleared the House by a margin of 72-47.

The first section of the bill, which outlines parental rights over their children’s education, becomes law immediately.

House Bill 574: Fairness in women’s sports act

The “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” (H.B. 574) bans biological men from competing in women’s sports.

According to a Gallup poll, 69% of Americans say transgender athletes should only be allowed to compete on sports teams that align with their birth gender.

Rep. Jennifer Balkcom, R-Henderson source: ncleg.gov

Rep. Jennifer Balkcom, R-Henderson, was H.B. 574’s lead sponsor.

“I am proud that today my colleagues stood up for female athletes in this state by overriding the governor’s veto of this common-sense legislation,” said Balkcom. “Girls should not have to worry about having to compete against biological males in sports, and this legislation will protect female athletes from such unfair and unsafe competition.”

Payton McNabb, a female volleyball player who recently graduated from high school in North Carolina, shared her thoughts on Gov. Cooper vetoing H.B. 574.

“The veto of this bill was not only a veto on women’s rights but a slap in the face to every female in the state,” McNabb said.

McNabb suffered a concussion and neck injury last year when a biological male, transgender opponent spiked the ball into her head during a match.

Sylvia Hatchell, a legendary UNC-Chapel Hill women’s basketball coach and 1994 national champion, is another vocal proponent of the bill.

Sen. Val Applewhite, D-Cumberland, had previously supported the bill but voted against passing the bill into law following Cooper’s veto. She was the only Senate Democrat to vote in favor of the bill initially.

Applewhite received significant backlash from Democrats following her vote and was called many things that “you probably can’t print.”

“So-called feminists will tell you that in order to have full equality, women need to sacrifice the spaces they fought so hard to secure,” Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, said. “That is unequivocally false. We must take a stand now to protect women; otherwise, Democrats will do everything they can to eviscerate every even playing field women have. Our daughters should not be forced to compete against biological men, and overriding Gov. Cooper’s veto of this legislation ensures our daughters do not have to worry about that.” 

The override of H.B. 574 passed the House in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 74-45 but cleared the Senate along partisan lines by a 27-18 margin.

Reps. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, and Michael Wray, D-Northampton, were the lone Democrats voting in favor of the override. Interestingly, both men voted against H.B. 574 the first time.

House Bill 808: Prohibit Gender Transition Procedures for Minors

House Bill 808 (H.B. 808) bans gender-reassignment surgery, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones for minors. 

“In some of the most liberal parts of the country, children are allowed to permanently alter their bodies with off-label drugs for the purpose of changing their sex,” Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, said. “While Republicans are protecting minors from such absurd open-door policies, Democrats are siding with the furthest left of their base and putting politics ahead of documented medical risks and consequences. We need to take a cautious approach and limit access to these life-altering medical procedures, and today’s vote to override Gov. Cooper’s veto does just that.”

Rep. Ken Fontenot, R-Wilson, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, spoke in favor of the override vote on the floor.

“Statistically, we have seen from studies in Europe high numbers of people who regret having undergone gender-affirming care as minors, and many go through the detransition process,” said Fontenot. “Sadly, even after people detransition, they cannot have children, and this is too serious and irreversible of a decision for minors to make before their brain is fully developed.”

Last month, a 25-year-old detransitioned North Carolina woman filed a lawsuit against those she claims were responsible for convincing her to undergo gender-reassignment medical procedures when she was a minor.

Filed as a civil case in Gaston County Superior Court, Prisha Mosley alleges a team of doctors and counselors regularly “lied” to her by stating that transitioning from female to male would solve her mental health issues.

The complaint also states doctors injected her with testosterone shots which caused her to develop a deeper voice and led to considerable physical pain. Mosley also claims she may be infertile as a result of testosterone.

Speaking to Carolina Journal’s David Larson in May, Mosley spoke about her mental health struggles when she was a teenager, when she committed acts of self-harm and was diagnosed with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and anorexia. Mosley believes a sexual assault at age 14 led in part to her mental health struggles.

The override of H.B. 808 also passed the House in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 74-45 and cleared the Senate along partisan lines by a 27-18 margin.

And again, Reps. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, and Michael Wray, D-Northampton, were the lone Democrats voting in favor of the override. Both Pierce and Wray had previously voted against the bill.

House Bills 219 and 618: Charter Schools

House Bill 219, the “Charter School Omnibus,” makes several changes to laws affecting charter schools, including removing growth restrictions and allowing counties to use property taxes to fund charter school capital needs.

“Thank you to the legislators who voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of HB 219,” said Lindalyn Kakadelis, Executive Director of the N.C. Coalition for Charter Schools. “Among other policies, the measure will remove enrollment caps for some public charter schools, a necessary move considering the 77,000 names on charter school waitlists last year. Despite Gov. Cooper’s claim to the contrary, HB 219 explicitly maintains enrollment caps for low-performing charter schools.”

House Bill 618 (H.B. 618) gives more authority over charter schools in North Carolina to the Charter Schools Review Board.

Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg, is the co-chair of the House K-12 Education Committee and primary sponsor of HB 618. Cotham, a Democrat turned Republican, spoke in favor of the bill on the House floor.

“Education is not one-size-fits-all, and charter schools are critical to ensuring families have the freedom to choose an education that best fits their child’s needs,” said Cotham. “By overriding the governor’s veto, these two bills help further our efforts to promote school choice, expand educational opportunities, and put kids first.”

Both H.B. 219 and H.B. 618 passed the House with bipartisan support and a vote of 74-45. Reps. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, and Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, were the two Democrats who voted in favor of both bills.

House Bill 488: Code Council Reorg. and Var. Code Amend.

House Bill 488 (H.B. 488) was the least controversial bill of the day, passing the House by a vote of 78-40, with six House Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with their Republican colleagues. H.B. 488 creates a more balanced Residential Code Council and aims to save homebuilders thousands of dollars in construction costs.

No Senate Democrats voted in favor of overriding Cooper’s veto on H.B. 488; however, Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, abstained from voting even though he was in attendance.

North Carolina House in session on August 16, 2023. Source: ncleg.gov