Republicans strike out on overriding Gov. Cooper vetoes; gyms and fitness centers to remain closed

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly were unable to override vetoes from Gov. Roy Cooper and speed up easing restrictions which have kept some businesses closed because of the new coronavirus.

"The General Assembly has worked tirelessly to reopen the state safely," Senate President Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said. "Gov. Cooper issued shutdown orders to prevent overloading the hospitals in our state. We did that and our hospitals continue to have the capacity. Now we should be focusing on protecting those most vulnerable to the virus and ensuring those who can safely return to work do so."

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The Senate and House calendars included override votes for up to six bills, including HB686 (Parades and Celebrations), HB806 (Gyms Reopening), SB599 (Skating Rinks & Bowling Alleys) and SB105 (Emergency Powers).

A fifth coronavirus-related proposal, HB258 (Amusement Parks & Arcades) was pulled from the calendar before a vote would presumably deliver the same fate.

"Tying the hands of public health and executive branch officials in times of pandemic is dangerous, especially when case counts and hospitalizations are rising at a concerning rate," Gov. Roy Cooper (D-North Carolina) said. "As we see in other states with surging COVID-19 counts, state and local officials must be able to take swift action during this emergency to prevent a surge of patients from overwhelming hospitals and endangering the lives of North Carolinians."

The mounting legislative losses mean opponents of the lockdown can only look to the courts for help, but that so far has borne mixed results: a judge last monthruled against Ace Speedway, while another judge this week gave the green light to bowling alleys.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican running for governor, currently has a suit pending against the incumbent.

"This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Gov. Cooper's orders," Forest said at the Legislative Building. "In times of crisis, the rule of law is more important than ever. We must do the right thing in the right way. No one - governor or citizen - is above the rule of law."
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