Politics & Government

Focus turns to override of magistrate bill veto

Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill to exempt magistrates from performing marriages now returns to lawmakers, who can override the veto if three-fifths of both chambers agree.

The official veto message was posted Friday morning, a day after the House passed Senate Bill 2.

Mollie Young, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Tim Moore, said Friday that “the speaker will discuss overrides with Senate leader Berger and House leadership in the coming days.”

Thursday’s 67-43 House vote indicates that gathering the three-fifths majority to override a veto could be close.

About 61 percent of House members voting Thursday supported the bill, though 10 were absent or didn’t vote. Of those, five are Republicans, four are Democrats, and one is unaffiliated Rep. Paul Tine, who’s part of the GOP caucus.

If all 120 House members vote on the override and none change their vote, at least five of the 10 would need to vote yes for the bill to become law. Tine said Friday he will vote against the bill.

An override is more certain in the Senate, where the 32-16 vote on Feb. 25 represents two-thirds of the chamber.

Legislators on the fence will face heavy lobbying in the coming days. One of them is Rep. Ken Waddell of Columbus County, one of two Democrats to vote for the bill.

“I haven’t promised anything to anybody,” he said of how he’ll vote on an override. He says he’s sympathetic to magistrates who oppose same-sex marriage and recalls that more than 80 percent of his rural district backed Amendment One, the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Still, “I have issues with the bill,” Waddell said. “I could see maybe some accommodation being made, but it’s not fair to other magistrates from a workload standpoint.”

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