BAYHAM: The Veto Session Was A Tactical Defeat And A Strategic Victory

By a mere two votes in the House of Representatives, the veto override of Senator Beth Mizell’s Senate Bill 156 that would have prohibited biological males from participating on women’s school sports teams failed.

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’ allies jubilantly celebrated on the floor of the House and rushed en masse to his office to spike the football seeing this as a personal victory for their patron while in the corridors of the State Capitol LGBTQ advocates reveled in victory.

For practically all Republican senators and representatives coming so close on the override vote only to have it fail was a stinging disappointment.

They should take heart, for they pushed back against the authority of an all-too-powerful executive and by following through in this unprecedented veto session have recalibrated the balance of power in state government, something long overdue.

Louisiana’s governor is regarded as one of the most powerful in the nation. Only New Jersey’s chief executive wields more authority, and that should be a point of envy.

The concept of checks and balances is a founding principle of American government intended to restrain one branch from lording over the others.

This should be a nonpartisan point of consensus not predicated upon which party controls what branch.

That Louisiana gubernatorial vetoes have been, with rare exception, absolute contributed to a domineering executive branch and a collective surrender of legislative power.

By convening this first veto session the legislature have crossed the Rubicon, though this action should no longer be viewed as any more exceptional than crossing the Bonnet Carre spillway.

In fact it should be expected from here on out.

Credit should extend to the leadership in both chambers and the legislators individually.

Seriously, call or email your gratitude. This is a big deal and they braved the political and unfavorable media narrative headwinds to go forward with the veto session.

The veto override session was a reminder that elections have consequences, especially gubernatorial ones.

It’s easier to win one governor’s race than 27 senate and 70 house of representatives elections.

And there’s absolutely no reason that a conservative state like Louisiana should struggle so mightily in this endeavor.

Self-defeating actions must be avoided by both the Republican candidates and the GOP.

And saying that losing a third gubernatorial election in a row is unfathomable is naive when reflecting upon the past thirty years of Louisiana elections.

If politics is the art of the possible then Louisiana is where amazing happens.

John Bel Edwards has the most re-edited political obituary of any state official.

In Louisiana the unthinkable today will be next week’s headlines.

Another benefit of the veto session was the exposure of the “John Kerry Caucus,” legislators who voted for bills in regular session under the guise that the governor would do the dirty work for them before later voting against the same measures in the veto session.

By forcing this veto session, the public got to see exactly how sincere these senators and representatives were in their votes.

They weren’t bailed out by a “pocket veto” of simply not going back into session as was the norm and we’re compelled to choose between representing the views of their constituents and fealty to the Fourth Floor.

And now the official record reflects their respective allegiances.

“You see what happened was…” will preface many legislators’  statements in candidate forums in 2023 and they’ll need to retain the services of the Harry Houdini of political consultants to explain this one away.

Finally with the veto session the myth of the centrist Democrat has been forever shattered.

The Mizell bill veto was the hill the Democrats chose to defend and it will be the hill that defines every Louisiana Democrat not named Francis Thompson.

While the veto session ended without a single override, it marked the beginning of a Republican legislative majority that has found the gumption to push back against the governor

Senator Mizell and State representative Laurie Schlegel deserve our thanks for trying to protect the interests of female athletes and their colleagues merit our appreciation for fighting this battle and rectifying the disparity between the executive and legislative branches of state government.

Though the goal line was not crossed, the ball was advanced and not simply punted.

We cannot always expect Republicans to win every battle but we should expect them to fight the battles.

And they did and we should not be disappointed in their efforts.

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