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Louisiana lawmakers cancel veto override session

senate chamber illuminator.jpg
The Louisiana Senate chamber, photographed on Feb. 2, 2022. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)

This story was originally published on the Louisiana Illuminator website.

The Louisiana Senate has canceled a veto override session scheduled for later this month after Republican legislative leaders signaled efforts to overturn Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes would likely fail.

Twenty-five of Louisiana’s 38 senators returned ballots stating they would like the veto session scrapped. The chamber only needed 20 votes to call the session off.

A majority of Louisiana House members were prepared to move forward with the session. Only 39 of 105 representatives voted to cancel it, but state law requires a majority of the House and Senate to agree to reconvene.

Veto override sessions are exceedingly rare in Louisiana. The first one in modern history was held just last year, though it didn’t go as Republican lawmakers had expected. GOP legislative leaders failed to override any of the governor’s vetoes, including high-profile ones over expanding gun rights and prohibiting transgender people from participating in sports.

This year Edwards vetoed 29 bills, including those that would have extended criminal sentences for people convicted of crimes, diverted state funding from public to private schools through expanded voucher programs and weakened government vaccine mandates.

The Senate leadership publicly said last week that it looked unlikely that it had the votes to override the governor on any of these issues. In order to reverse Edwards’ decision on a bill, lawmakers needed two-thirds of both the Senate and the House to vote against him. Some Republican senators had already said publicly they were unwilling to do so, or would be absent during the veto override session altogether.

Legislators did override the governor once earlier in 2022, when they passed a U.S. House political map over his objections. The governor also avoided another veto override this summer when he agreed to let a state law prohibiting transgender children and adults from participating in certain sports competitions take effect.

Edwards refused to personally sign the transgender sports ban, but said he was unable to stop it from passing because lawmakers had the votes for an override if he vetoed it.

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