Perhaps overshadowed by the spotlights on other bills, several less-publicized ones deserve veto overrides that the Louisiana Legislature seems poised to cue up later this month.
The driving force behind a historic such session comes from legislator distaste at Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes of SB 156, which prevents discrimination by sex in scholastic and collegiate sports, and SB 118, which removes requirements for carrying concealed firearms found unnecessary in almost half the states. As well, his vetoes of several other measures that would shore up weaknesses in the state’s electoral system integrity have drawn legislators’ ire.
However, other vetoed bills also merit attention, beginning with a few that address vaccinations for the Wuhan coronavirus. Already noted is the necessity of HB 498 by Republican state Rep. Kathy Edmonston that prevents government-mandated vaccinations to gain citizens to access ordinary services until such vaccinations receive formal and final Food and Drug Administration approval. Given the vaccines now are known to cause certain rare maladies particularly in youths, such a mandate would cause a terrible choice between enduring legalized discrimination preventing reception of government services or risking state-sanctioned murder as in the case of abortion.
A couple of others along this line need overrides. HB 349 by Edmonston more narrowly echoes HB 498. HB 103 by Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick would shield businesses from liability if they don’t mandate vaccinations for employees and customers. Besides his fervor for vaccinations, Edwards had another motivation for the vetoing bills like this, McCormick revealed: pressure from entities whose members would gain financially or ideologically from as widespread vaccinating as possible.
HB 149 by GOP state Rep. Larry Frieman would alter slightly the process by which the Legislature may check the governor in his use of emergency powers. It would allow majorities in both chambers to nullify parts of an emergency proclamation for specified periods, instead of the all-or-nothing approach in current law. This prevents gubernatorial mischief by a chief executive linking a genuine crisis to a series of unrelated matters and using emergency powers to rule by decree, daring the Legislature to throw the baby out with the bathwater by a total override which is the only approach now allowed by law.
In his veto message of the bill – which was a watered down version of another last year – Edwards hypocritically stated this could allow politics to intervene rather than “scientific date [sic],” when Edwards himself throughout the pandemic has provided a textbook example of a governor placing politics over science in policy-making on this issue. More generally, the message blandly assumes that only a plenary body would act politically while somehow a chief executive remains immune from that temptation.
Then there’s HB 256 by Republican state Rep. Phillip Tarver. This also represents a diluted version of a previous bill – in this case, several. It would allow local school districts to continue a process – illegal in more than half the states – of using taxpayer resources to deduct professional dues, including for unions, from employees once authorizing this, specifically excepting employees in an official bargaining unit where the negotiated contract supersedes. All the bill would do is require annual reauthorization.
But Edwards vetoed it, using gobbledygook. His message completely ignores existing law and the Constitution by implying the bill would impair union contracts when the law and bill clearly exempt these. This complete non-sequitur doesn’t address the merits of the bill at all, but only serves as politicized justification for backing labor allies who can’t create formal bargaining units in a jurisdiction but want a steady stream of cash into their coffers.
Finally, HB 698 by GOP state Rep. Tony Bacala, following similar laws in many states, would require greater information-sharing among state agencies to facilitate rooting out waste and fraud, specifically in Medicaid administration. Yet Edwards vetoed this as well, hinging the entire thing on a tiny part of the whole based on a legal claim based far more on conjecture instead of fact. This provides cover for his real motive of not placing into law, rather than keeping as a matter of executive courtesy, the ability to discover fraud that might expose lax administration. Edwards doesn’t want this exposed in order to enable redistribution of as many taxpayer dollars as possible to gain political support.
The bills that prevent discrimination based on sex, needless burdens on concealed carry, and fraudulent election outcomes all are important and demand veto overrides. However, the others mentioned above should receive serious consideration for the same and should not get lost in the shuffle.