House Democrats Block Small Business Rescue Bill

Raleigh, N.C. – Democrats in the North Carolina House of Representatives voted Wednesday to block legislation that would have allowed fitness centers to safely operate in North Carolina. The legislation also included a revised outdoor seating policy to treat dining and beverage establishments equally.

After preparing to reopen under Governor Cooper’s ‘Phase 2’ executive order, gym owners were unexpectedly forced to remain closed. As a result, gym owners across the state filed lawsuits against the administration.
Noticeably, all states that border North Carolina have reopened fitness facilities. House Bill 594 allows exercise and fitness facilities, gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers to safely operate under a prescribed 15 point plan.
Cooper’s current executive order allows restaurants to operate indoors or outdoors at 50 percent capacity, but arbitrarily prohibits other establishments from operating under the same rules.
Additionally, House Bill 594 treats all beverage and dining service establishments the same and allows them to operate at 50% of total capacity. The General Assembly passed similar legislation in House Bill 536, but the bill was vetoed by the Governor.
In House Bill 594, the General Assembly addressed the Governor’s concerns with House Bill 536 by allowing the Governor to re-close beverage and dining service establishments with concurrence of the Council of State, a common requirement of emergency authority in North Carolina.
Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 594 last Friday. The House of Representatives attempted to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 594 on Wednesday, but House Democrats prevented the legislation from finally becoming law. The override failed by a vote of 66 to 53 with only one Democrat voting with the Republican majority.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) released the following statement:
“It is unfortunate the other side of the aisle is unwilling to provide a lifeline to family businesses hanging by a thread as a result of Governor Cooper’s scattershot executive orders,” Speaker Moore said.
“We must have a balanced approach that prioritizes both public health and economic relief to address the pandemic facing our State.”