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RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is downplaying a rules change that some are suggesting would allow Republicans in the House to override a veto when Democrats were absent.

WRAL in Raleigh first reported the possibility when, on Wednesday’s opening day of the General Assembly, Republican House members passed rules that would “allow the speaker to call a vote on Cooper’s vetoes without notice.”

Rules in place for at least a decade limited members’ votes to override a gubernatorial veto “until the second legislative day following notice of its placement on the calendar.”

This is an important nuance because Republicans have a supermajority of control in the state Senate and fall one vote short in the House and that stands between party-line overrides of Cooper, a second-term Democrat who has vetoed more bills than any governor in history.

But on Wednesday afternoon Moore told WNCN-TV that he would stick to his word if he said there would be no votes on a given day.

House Minority Leader Robert Reives (D-Randolph, left) peaks while Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) listens. (AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson, File)

Democrats, led by Minority Leader Ralph Reives (D-Randolph), had feared that Moore might call a veto vote when they were out of the chamber, even in the restroom.

“They [voters] deserve proper representation,” Reives told WNCN. “They deserve not to have laws made that end up being gamesmanship, which is what this brings the potential to be.”

Moore, who was elected to serve a record fifth term as speaker, said that he “had conversations with Rep. Reives about the optics and so forth of moving forward in a something like an ambush kind of vote. That’s not something we’re looking at.”

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) talks while Senate Leader Phil Berger (rear) listens. (AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson)

North Carolina Democratic Chair Bobbie Richardson appeared unconvinced about Moore’s position.

“The public deserves a transparent and accountable government – a hastily called vote while a representative is in the bathroom does everyone a disservice and erodes the democratic process,” she said in a statement released by the party. “Despite Speaker Moore’s bad-faith attempts to bend the rules to consolidate his own power, North Carolina Democrats are prepared to stand up to bad Republican bills and uphold Governor Cooper’s veto.” 

‘We must come together’

Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby swore in members on Wednesday, and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden), previously elected to serve another term at the helm, delivered his opening address.

He cited job growth, business expansion, revenue growth and lower taxes as the accomplishments that have occurred during his time in the Senate. He talked about the need for Medicaid expansion and continued improvements in education.

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WRAL reported that Moore was telling reporters that members were discussing a 13-week abortion ban – the state law in place has a 20-week window – with exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and terminal pregnancies. Berger had said he thought there was a path to more restrictive law.

“It is our duty as elected officials to represent the people,” Berger said. “We must come together, no matter our party, to find solutions and follow through on those.

“While the voters returned a Republican supermajority to this chamber, endorsing the conservative policies that have restored North Carolina as the leader in the Southeast, I believe we can achieve a shared goal of moving North Carolina forward. Despite any disagreements, we owe it to the people of this great state to work tirelessly for them.”