Veto Override On Mask Bill Fails As Lawmakers End 2021 Session

Student at whiteboard

State lawmakers voted this week to approve a resolution officially adjourning the 2021 legislative session on Friday, March 11, following an unsuccessful attempt by Senate legislators to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 173: Free the Smiles Act, a bill allowing parents to opt their students out of school mask requirements. The veto override attempt came almost three weeks after the Governor held a press conference encouraging schools and municipalities to end mask requirements due to improving COVID-19 data and trends, causing many Democratic Senators to call S173 “unnecessary.” While the override vote failed to secure the 3/5 majority needed to override the Governor’s veto, Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) used a parliamentary procedure to send the bill back to the Senate Rules and Operations Committee, meaning the bill could be revived for another future veto override attempt.

Following the Senate’s failed veto override attempt on Wednesday afternoon, members of the Senate voted to approve a 52-page conference committee substitute for House Bill 243, a budget technical corrections bill containing minimal K-12 law and policy changes, mostly changing several Department of Public Instruction (DPI) report due dates. Senators also approved Senate Joint Resolution 748, a resolution to adjourn the 2021 legislative session. House lawmakers approved both the budget technical corrections bill and the adjournment resolution the following day, with NC Speaker Tim Moore noting the 2021 session was the “longest legislative long session” in North Carolina history. The adjournment resolution notes legislators will briefly reconvene on April 4-6 and May 4-6 to address a limited set of issues, and the 2022 short session will officially begin on May 18.

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