It Appears As Though Grassroots Pressure Is Working On Louisiana’s Legislators

This is one of those rare occasions – or to be a bit more cautious, it might be – where Louisiana’s political class is actually paying attention to the people of the state. Because word yesterday that the legislative leadership is now signaling the likelihood of a veto override session is unmistakably, without a doubt, the result of pressure put on legislators by ordinary folks.

Momentum is building for Louisiana lawmakers to hold a historic veto override session, with Senate President Page Cortez announcing today that senators are likely to support the effort to try to overturn Gov. John Bel Edwards’ bill rejections.

Cortez says Edwards’ spurning of a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams of their identified gender appears to have spurred enough backing among senators for the mid-July veto session. House Republicans already indicated they have the support to hold the gathering, and GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder wants the session.

Legislators say they’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls in support of the vetoed bill by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton. The state Republican Party, the Christian conservative organization Louisiana Family Forum, and others are pushing lawmakers to hold the session.

“The grassroots swell of public opinion has been overwhelming, and so as I speak to the individual senators, they want to be able to go on the record saying they not only voted to support this (bill) during session, but they believe it’s that important to go back in and be on the record with an override vote,” Cortez says.

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is something Cortez wants. He doesn’t. He would very much like it if the override session doesn’t happen. In fact, if the scuttlebutt at the Capitol is accurate Cortez even was part of a deal with Edwards whereby the governor would sign the tax reform package the Legislature passed in the session that ended early last month and in return there would be no veto override session.

Perhaps that story wasn’t true, but it’s somewhat instructive that Cortez didn’t jump out in front of the momentum on an override session the way Schexnayder did, and now that he’s carried along with the current, Cortez is making it very clear that the call for this session is due to “public opinion.” Which would be a way for him to signal to Edwards that this isn’t his circus and he oughtn’t bear the blame for busting whatever deal there might have been, and a silent complaint that Edwards’ pressure put on his Senate colleagues is nothing like the pressure the grassroots is applying.

Either way, there are lots of grassroots conservative activists putting on their sneakers for a victory lap. The Louisiana Family Forum’s Gene Mills put this out yesterday afternoon…

Senate President Page Cortez has released a statement today indicating that the Louisiana Senate “is likely to proceed with a veto override session.”

Cortez’s statement, while not forceful, echoes the sentiment of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and signals that momentum is shifting and there are votes in support of a veto override session to examine some of the governor’s vetoes.

I cannot say this more strongly: your calls and emails made a substantial impact! Momentum is not a coincidence – you helped to create it!
LFF is thrilled to see the House Speaker and Senate President giving their members the opportunity to consider the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act and constitutional carry legislation.

The success of the override session will largely rest on the leadership of the Speaker and Senate President, so now would be a good time to call and thank them (225-342-6945) for their support, and to encourage them to lobby their members to support the overrides themselves.

Overrides are not a guarantee, but the first hurdle is holding the session. Once the veto messages have been transmitted (July 3rd), the messages received (July 5th), and the votes to hold the session cast (July 15th), then, the real work begins!

You’ll notice the “while not forceful” reference, which is yet again a recognition that Page Cortez is not a particular friend of the conservative grassroots, but that’s going to be of minor significance.

The real issue is going to be the votes on the bills being overridden, and for that reason this is no time to let up the pressure if you’re motivated by the issues in question. The rumor mill has it that Edwards is starting to shop around some appointments – like for example the vacant chairmanship of the state gaming board – to some Republican senators who might be willing to either vote to uphold his vetoes or even accept the job and resign from the Senate.

It would be political suicide to do that, but if you’re a third-term senator with no particular prospect of electoral advancement you don’t have a lot to lose.

Other than the respect of your constituents. Believe us, for some of these guys that is of no consequence to them at all.

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