La. lawmakers attempting to override governor’s vetoes
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers in Louisiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature have opted to return to the Capitol for a veto session this week in an attempt to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recent bill rejections, which included blocking a gender-affirming care ban for transgender youths and the state’s version of “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Veto-Override Session is official. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol Tuesday and will have 5 days to overturn whichever vetoes they choose. Attached are the tally’s of each lawmakers vote to hold the session. #lalege #lagov @WAFB pic.twitter.com/5E5QSG2Vg3— Chris Rosato (@chrosatoWAFB) July 14, 2023
Edwards — who is in his final six months in office, unable to seek reelection this year due to consecutive term limits — likely faces an uphill battle this veto session. In order to override the governor and force a bill into law, two-thirds approval from both the House and Senate is needed. The GOP currently holds a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
Although a veto session is automatically scheduled whenever Louisiana’s governor blocks a bill, lawmakers typically cancel the gathering. This will be only the third such session since 1974 and there has only been one successful override, last year when lawmakers overturned Edwards’ veto of a congressional redistricting bill. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said Friday that enough lawmakers voted not to cancel the session for it to take place, The Advocate reported.
The special session is scheduled to begin Tuesday, July 18 at noon. Lawmakers must adjourn no later than the end of the day on July 22.
Here are some of the bills Edwards vetoed this session that will likely draw debate.
During the waning days of Louisiana’s legislative session, lawmakers passed a series of controversial bills: a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors that includes puberty-blockers, hormone treatment and surgery; a " Don’t Say Gay " bill that broadly bars teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in public school classrooms; and a measure requiring public school teachers to use the pronouns and names that align with what students were assigned at birth.
Edwards vetoed all three bills, but they passed with more than a two-thirds vote during the regular session.
Republicans say they’re trying to protect children with these bills. Opponents argue it would do the opposite, leading to heightened risks of stress, depression and suicidal thoughts among an already vulnerable group.
Louisiana’s divide over LGBTQ+ legislation echoes what has been seen in GOP-led statehouses across the country. Bills targeting transgender people have topped conservative agendas, and LGBTQ+ advocates call it a dangerous and blatant attack on their community.
During the regular legislative session, lawmakers were tasked with crafting the state budget. However, tensions arose and lines were drawn as lawmakers debated how best to spend surplus funds.
In the final minutes of session, the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a $45 million budget that included allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to pay down state retirement debt. Lawmakers also reduced a proposed funding increase for the Department of Health by $100 million, a move that some legislators say they regret, as it could result in a $700 million loss in federal funding and cuts to vital health services.
Using his veto power, Edwards restored the funding increase to the Department of Health — redirecting some of the funds set aside to pay down debt.
Lawmakers passed a several bills this session that would increase punishments for certain crimes or create new criminal charges.
However, Edwards vetoed one bill that would have criminalized approaching within 25 feet (8 meters) of a police officer while they are engaged in law enforcement duties. If found guilty of the proposed misdemeanor, a person could face a $500 fine or up to 60 days in prison.
Proponents of the legislation say it was created as a safety measure for police. Critics argue that the bill is unconstitutional and fear that it will hinder the public’s ability to film officers, which has increasingly been used to hold police accountable — including in high-profile cases like the killing of George Floyd.
In addition, Edwards vetoed a bill that would once again hold some 17-year-olds accused of violent crimes in adult jails. Edwards described the bill as a “blatant reversal” of Raise the Age legislation passed in 2016.
Edwards vetoed two bills related to schools and vaccines. He blocked a bill that would have made it illegal for schools to require COVID-19 vaccines for attendance. In addition, he rejected legislation that would have required K-12 schools to include exemption information in communications sent about vaccine requirements.
In his veto message, Edwards said the bills seek to “undermine the faith of the public in vaccines.”
For a full list and more details about the bills Edwards vetoed this session, visit legis.la.gov.
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