When the Louisiana Legislature convenes on Tuesday, overriding Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards’ vetoes of common sense Republican legislation will require a two-thirds majority in each chamber. In vote counting lingo, an absence from the session will automatically count as a “NO” vote, in favor of the Governor.
That’s why the announcements last week by Republican Senator Ronnie Johns and former Democrat, now independent Representative Malinda White, that they would be skipping the session due to medical reasons, were potentially damaging to our override efforts. These two lawmakers could be the pivotal deciding votes on a number of key bills in each chamber, but right now they both plan to stay home!
Now, it seems to me that Ronnie Johns, who underwent knee replacement surgery a few weeks ago, could surely return to the Capitol in a wheelchair or on crutches (if needed) and perform his sworn duty. (By way of comparison, Republican Representative Dewith Carrier attends every session in a wheelchair and handles the job perfectly well!) And Baton Rouge has excellent medical care and rehabilitation clinics available in abundance. The good Senator should be just fine hanging about the Capitol for several days – doctors will have told him to get some exercise anyway, as is the usual protocol following knee replacement surgery.
What’s more, the rumor is widespread that Sen. Johns will soon be resigning from the legislature to take a lucrative appointment from the Governor to head the Gaming Control Board. The appearance of such a conflict–that he skipped the session because John Bel threatened to withhold the appointment- should disqualify him from confirmation by a Republican-controlled Senate. Republican activists have already raised this issue and there will be a further groundswell of disappointment once the session begins, absent Ronnie Johns.
As for Malinda White, she did not disclose the medical reason forcing her to be absent from the session, but she was last seen walking around on her own two feet. Her failure to assist the Republican delegation in overriding these vetoes should just about end any pretense that she has recently become too conservative to remain a Louisiana Democrat. Her failure to back conservatives now will no doubt come back to haunt her when she makes her planned run for parish president of Washington Parish. Republican activists will not forget her actions over the next five days!
The leaders of both chambers, Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, went far towards making this session a reality, and both deserve our thanks.
Quick aside note to our House leader: If Rep. White is choosing to be absent from her job, why not remove her from her committee assignments? That should have been done after she threatened to kill one of her colleagues in any event. And for that matter, why not remove all Democrat committee chairs in the Louisiana House of Representatives and replace them with members of the Conservative Caucus? Why should we have Democrat committee chairs in a chamber where nearly two thirds of the members are Republicans? By way of comparison, Republicans hold forty-nine percent of the seats in Congress, but Nancy Pelosi has appointed Democrat chairs to every single House committee.
While I am praising the leadership of both chambers, something must of course be said about the ninety-four (out of ninety-five) Republican members of the Louisiana Legislature who supported the call for an override session. We are so proud of them that we are holding a rally in their honor on Monday at 5:30 on the Capitol steps. (Please join us and RSVP here.)
These ninety-four lawmakers risked retaliation by the Governor, particularly the cancellation of important projects in their districts, protests by left wing crazies, and mischaracterizations of their motives by the media. Yet every Republican legislator except Representative Joe Stagni of Kenner stood with us to make this historic session a reality, and we should show our appreciation. Please call your Republican senator at (225) 342-2040 and your Republican representative at (225) 342-6945 to say “thank you.”
In the coming days Republican legislators must stick together if they are to be successful in overriding the Governor’s vicious and partisan vetoes of bills which a clear majority of Louisiana voters want passed. We need everyone on the team, and yes, there WILL be political consequences for those Republican and so-called “conservative leaning” legislators who take sides against our daughters, our gun owners, and the very integrity of our elections!
The one million Republican voters of Louisiana will be watching events closely. I know I will…
LOUIS GURVICH, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana