Under the Dome

House Speaker Tim Moore unsure about veto override vote

Same sex couple Craig Johnson, left, and Shawn Long, center, are married by Magistrate Jacob Davis, right, in downtown Raleigh in October. The N.C. House will vote soon on whether to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto and allow magistrates to opt out of performing marriage if they have a religious objection.
Same sex couple Craig Johnson, left, and Shawn Long, center, are married by Magistrate Jacob Davis, right, in downtown Raleigh in October. The N.C. House will vote soon on whether to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto and allow magistrates to opt out of performing marriage if they have a religious objection. cseward@newsobserver.com

On Monday night, House Speaker Tim Moore told legislators that he’d be putting a veto override of Senate Bill 2 – exempting magistrates from marriage duties – on Wednesday’s agenda.

By Tuesday morning though, Moore was less certain of the vote timing.

“Speaker Moore, leadership and the (Republican) caucus are working on making a decision on when to vote,” said Mollie Young, a spokeswoman for Moore. “They have not tallied votes yet.”

The Republican House caucus was scheduled to meet behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon.

While the Senate easily met the three-fifths majority threshold for an override Monday evening, the margin in the House is expected to be closer. When the bill first passed the chamber last week, 61 percent of legislators present voted yes – but 10 were absent.

Tuesday’s announcement could indicate Moore might wait on the vote until the numbers in the House chamber favor the bill. Former Speaker Thom Tillis, now a U.S. senator, called that technique the “veto garage.”

In comments to a Time Warner Cable News reporter Tuesday, Moore used a different term: “veto opportunity zone.”

Whenever the vote gets taken, here are a few moderate legislators Dome will be watching. If the margin is close, their decisions could determine whether Senate Bill 2 becomes law.

Rep. Ken Waddell: The Columbus County legislator was one of only two Democrats who voted for the bill last week. On Friday, he was unsure of his next vote on the matter. “I haven’t promised anything to anybody,” he said, adding that he thinks “it’s not fair to other magistrates from a workload standpoint.”

Rep. Charles Graham: The Lumberton Democrat was the other “yes” vote from his party. He’s likely being lobbied heavily by fellow Democrats who hope he’ll change his mind.

Rep. Paul Tine: The House’s only unaffiliated member was among the 10 who were absent last week. He’s a former Democrat from the Outer Banks who now caucuses with Republicans. He said Friday he opposes the bill and his reasoning echoes Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto statement: “When you are an officer of the court, it’s your duty to uphold the law.”

Rep. William Brisson: The Bladen County Democrat was absent last week, and he’s one of the most conservative legislators in his party, often voting with Republicans. This session, he spoke out against allowing Sunday hunting – another social issue.

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