As expected, the governor vetoed State Senator Beth Mizell’s legislation (SB 156) to reserve participation in school sports teams designated for females exclusively for biological females.
Twenty years ago such legislation wouldn’t have been even contemplated but American society is going through a strange rough patch of sanity where scientific truth has transitioned from absolute to the individually subjective.
Real has been supplanted by feels.
And for the Democratic Party, toeing the line on the ever-expanding and increasingly absurd demands of the LGBTQ agenda has become a matter of party doctrine, even more so than blanket support for all aspects of abortion, from taxpayer support to eliminating parental consent.
Mizell’s bill passed the Senate by a 29-6 margin (or a 74% vote of the entire State Senate membership) and the House of Representatives by 78-19 (also 74% of the chamber).
Senate Bill 156 was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, who constitute 64% of the House of Representatives membership and 69% of the State Senate.
If everyone who voted for Mizell’s bill supported both the veto session and the override, the legislation would easily become law as it received bipartisan support.
However such a move would not take place in a vacuum.
Realistically the political implications become their own story as both the veto session and the override would undermine the authority of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.
Pressure, direct and otherwise, will be applied to legislators to simply let the issue drop, as they typically do with every post-session veto.
A victory here would make Edwards look like a hero to the Biden Administration while the governor would also reap the benefit of a divided opposition.
That said, three general questions need to be posed to legislators who initially voted for Mizell’s bill with an additional question for Republican legislators who backed its passage.
First, do you believe in checks and balances?
Louisiana has one of the most powerful state executives in the country. Vetoes are rarely overturned in no small part because the legislature never gavels itself back into session to consider the governor’s post-sine die actions.
That such a session is not automatic defies the very concept of checks and balances, in effect surrendering considerable power to the executive branch.
I understand that legislators are anxious not just to return home but also to earn a living due to the low pay they receive compared to the very well-compensated executive branch, something governors brazenly use to their advantage through calling special sessions.
However, convening a veto session ought to be considered an expectation of legislative service.
Not having automatic veto sessions where the governor’s actions are considered and are either sustained or overridden hinders true legislative independence from the Fourth Floor.
Secondly, did you really mean your vote to pass Senate Bill 156 or was this just legislative Three Card Monte by which you assumed the governor would handle the dirty work while you palmed the veto session card?
Politicians are generally distrusted by the public because the voters do not believe they’re sincere in their actions. Failure to follow through on a veto session will reinforce this cynicism.
Thirdly, do you believe that women’s sports should exist at all or that everyone should compete in gender-neutral athletic events?
And as a follow-up: where do you draw the line, if it all? Your constituents deserve a direct answer.
As for the Republican members of the legislature who initially supported the bill, you need to ask yourself why you claim your GOP affiliation.
Is it just to score automatic votes at the ballot box or do you actually believe in conservative principles?
To be blunt over the past six years the Republican legislative caucus has not been a decidedly cohesive bloc.
In two consecutive elections for House speaker the choice of the party caucus did not end up with the gavel.
To fail here would be a demoralizing embarrassment for the Republican legislative caucus and a boon to the Democratic administration.
Republicans who voted one way to signal their adherence to the wishes of their constituents only to negate it by not going along with the veto session should not expect a free pass.
If anything those representatives and senators attempting to have it both ways should not expect to receive the State GOP endorsement in their next election.
To be clear, as an executive committee member of the state GOP I will oppose the endorsement by the Louisiana Republican Party of ANY Republican legislator for ANY office if they don’t support the override session and follow through on his/her previous vote for Mizell’s bill.
If you can’t get this vote right then you’re taking up space that would be better occupied by a more sincere representative of the people.
The legislative branch needs to assert its independence from the Fourth Floor and Republican senators and representatives need to either live up to the party affiliation they use, or in some cases cynically exploit, for their benefit or check it at the door as someone will be ready to take your place in 2023.
To capitulate on the matter by default will further divide the state GOP and sow the seeds of distrust at a most inconvenient time.
Our party needs to learn to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, especially with a very contentious congressional and legislative reapportionment session early next year when their collective resolve will truly be tested by the governor, Democratic caucus, and media.
It’s time for the large Republican majorities in both legislative chambers to start acting like a majority party.