There has been an awful lot of discussion in Louisiana political circles that an almost-unprecedented veto override session would be called to discuss a few bills passed overwhelmingly by the majority-Republican legislature that Gov. John Bel Edwards nonetheless vetoed.
The word had been, from insiders we talked to, that when Edwards signed several bills involving the tax reform package passed by the Legislature it was his part of a deal that involved foregoing an override session.
But House Speaker Clay Schexnayder threw a bit of a curveball into the mix yesterday when he put out this statement…
Schexnayder’s statement is a little disingenuous, in that the custom – in which he has participated – involves the Speaker and the Senate President essentially demanding their members turn in that ballot.
He’s putting out for public consumption that he supports the override session. Which is great.
Page Cortez, the Senate President, hasn’t put anything out on a veto override session yet. The interesting thing is that Mizell’s SB 156, the bill banning biological males from playing girls’ sports in Louisiana, passed with 29 of the 39 Senators supporting it. And Beth Mizell is the president pro tem of the Senate. She’s not some back-bencher.
You would think the bulk of the Legislature would be on board with an override session. If somehow that doesn’t happen, it would be on the leadership of the legislature to explain what’s going on.
Because it isn’t just Edwards’ veto of the girls’ sports bill. He also vetoed the constitutional carry bill, a very similar piece of legislation that Texas governor Greg Abbott just signed a few days ago, and perhaps most importantly he vetoed the Zuckerbucks bill by Rep. Blake Miguez, a measure that would ban private donations to public elections offices. This is an extremely meaningful and significant bill, as one of the most important ways the 2020 election was irregular if not outright stolen was the $400 million Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife funneled through a nonprofit to elections officials in Democrat-run localities which turned them into partisan get-out-the-vote operations for the Biden campaign.
Edwards’ veto of that bill, which has veto-proof support, was a partisan shot on behalf of the national Democrat Party and its vigorous efforts to break down election integrity. Miguez’ bill is even more significant than Mizell’s as a demonstration of what kind of state Louisiana expects to be going forward, though both are very important.
Schexnayder goes and puts out this statement yesterday, and it creates something interesting. Because the dynamic had been that there were enough House members who wanted an override session to make one happen, but not quite enough senators for it. He puts out that statement yesterday, which was meant to placate his members, but in doing so he’s now angered the senators. This morning they’ve begun jumping on board with the override session.
And here’s why that’s a shot at Schexnayder: in the Senate they’ve got a supermajority. There are 27 Republicans there out of 39. They can override the governor essentially any time they want, assuming they stick together.
But in the House there are 68 Republicans out of 105. Schexnayder has to hold all the GOP members, plus get two of the Democrat-leaning independents or else pick off some Democrats if he wants to get to 70.
For Mizell’s bill he has a margin of error. For the others he doesn’t. So overriding vetoes will likely happen with regularity in the Senate but might fail in the House – and that would be blamed on Schexnayder as a weak House Speaker who can’t or won’t hold majorities together.
And once that legislature is in session, someone could make a motion to vacate the chair at any time. Schexnayder has avoided it to date, but he can’t have too many blowups before eventually it gets him.
And the word that several of Edwards’ line-item vetoes of local projects in key conservative members’ districts, among them Reps. Danny McCormick and Miguez, actually came at Schexnayder’s request didn’t fully circulate until after the legislature had gone home. We’ll see whether the reverberations of that move punishing GOP dissidents are still being felt next month.