We’re back in business with one of the most perplexingly controversial pieces of legislation to come down the pike in Louisiana in several years, and once again we’re about to find out what Gov. John Bel Edwards will do with the bill.
Last year, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill by Sen. Beth Mizell (R-Bogalusa) that would have banned biological males from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at the scholastic and collegiate level in the state. It’s a very popular bill in Louisiana and nationwide; most people don’t think this issue is particularly complicated. You are what your plumbing indicates you are, and any departure from that is, well…it’s your business, but the rest of us are under no obligation to participate in a fantasy or a delusion.
But Edwards is a Democrat, and the national Democrat Party is fully invested in trans advocacy. So much so that Joe Biden’s handlers trotted him out to bumble his way through a speech on something called Transgender Day of Visibility. Did you see this?
In any event, woke corporations and organizations like the NCAA have wagged fingers at red states and made threats along the lines that if bills like Mizell’s were passed there would be negative consequences. More than a dozen states have told them exactly where they could get off and passed them anyway. That’s a virtuous position, because it essentially tells these people that the girls and young women in an Arkansas, South Dakota, Florida or Texas are not to be prostituted so as to get an NCAA Final Four booked in their state.
And the NCAA hasn’t followed up on any of those threats anyway. They were always empty.
In some states, like Indiana, where that state’s idiot RINO governor Eric Holcomb took time out from making travel plans to attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this year to veto a bill like Mizell’s, and in Utah where similar RINO Spencer Cox did the same thing, the legislature has or will overturned the veto. That happened in Arkansas last year when the gormless Asa Hutchinson was pressured by Walmart and Tyson Chicken to veto the bill.
But those are Republicans who lack the stones to do the right thing by female athletes. Edwards is a Democrat, which means for him to sign that bill would be to repudiate his national party bosses.
Last year he refused to do that, and his veto led to an historic veto override session. The Senate voted to override the veto; the House fell just short.
Then came the Lia Thomas fiasco, in which a man with a disturbingly visible penis went into the pool at the NCAA Division 1 women’s swim meet and blew away the competition in two events to win thoroughly illegitimate national championships for the University of Pennsylvania. How the NCAA can ever penalize any member institution for cheating after that debacle is beyond us; entering a man into a women’s competition is far more blatant in terms of seeking an unfair competitive advantage than is dropping a shoebox full of cash on a desirable high school recruit.
The Lia Thomas case has sparked a fresh round of girls’ sports bills in states across the country. It didn’t exactly spark Mizell to reintroduce her bill, which this year is SB 44. She was always going to bring it. But what the Lia Thomas disaster did was to totally invalidate Edwards’ argument from last year, that Mizell’s bill was a solution in search of a problem.
John Bel Edwards might want to say that there are no boys or men attempting to invade women’s sports in Louisiana, but Louisiana athletes do compete in NCAA Division 1 women’s swimming. So you can’t say the state isn’t affected by this phenomenon. And we could go on endlessly about the stupid policies Edwards has made in which he’s alleged to be proactive. It was never a valid argument, and now it just looks idiotic.
And Edwards is now under the hot lights, because SB 44 has now passed both houses and is landing on Edwards’ desk. From the Louisiana Family Forum’s press release on the bill’s final passage yesterday…
Today, SB 44, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, received final legislative approval as the Louisiana Senate accepted, by a vote of 32-6, House amendments to the bill.
Senator Beth Mizell’s bill simply prevents biological men from competing on women’s sports teams. It now heads to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk for his final verdict.
SB 44 has received overwhelming support in the Louisiana Legislature, with a Senate vote of 29-6 in favor and a House vote approving 72-21.
SB 44 Is the same bill that fell only 2 votes shy of a veto override last year.
Representative Laurie Schlegel led an hour-long debate on the House floor, and lead author Senator Beth Mizell did a masterful job shepherding her measure through the process.
“Once again, the legislature has sided with science. Common sense and distinctively Louisiana values which all affirm that Louisiana will protect and preserve women’s competitive sports and women athletes,” said LFF President Gene Mills. “Louisiana Family Forum is an ardent supporter of this bill because we hold that every young female athlete deserves a fair playing field. Louisiana’s legislature has gone on record in two consecutive years to provide those protections. We encourage Governor Edwards to quickly do the right thing and sign SB 44. The people of Louisiana have spoken through their elected Representatives and Senators and by clear margins want their daughters, sisters, nieces, and granddaughters competing on a fair playing field.”
This puts Edwards in an untenable position, which is why the conventional wisdom seems to be that he’s going to do nothing on the bill and let it become law without his signature.
If he vetoes it, the Senate has far more than enough votes to override him. In addition to the 27 Republicans, five Democrats – Regina Barrow, Katrina Jackson, Jay Luneau, Greg Tarver and Gary Smith were yes votes on final passage. If Jay Luneau, who’s about as close to an Edwards close as you can get, voted for the bill it’s a good sign of where the politics are.
In the House the margin is a lot smaller, but there were still 72 votes and only 21 opposed. Plus there were a few Republicans who missed the vote and they’re all “yes” votes for an override – Larry Bagley, Mark Wright, and Paul Hollis would make the number 75, which is enough for a five-vote margin in favor of an override. Leadership would have to hold on to only two of seven Democrats and independents who voted for the bill’s final passage – Roy Daryl Adams, who paid a huge price for switching his vote on last year’s override and has told people it was a mistake to do so, Ken Brass, Robby Carter, Mack Cormier, C. Travis Johnson (who also switched his vote on last year’s bill), Jeremy Lacombe, Francis Thompson and Malinda White.
Thompson was the lone Democrat who voted for the override last year. He’s not switching this time. White skipped the override session. This time the bill picked up a vote from Republican Joe Stagni, who’s facing a recall effort over his opposition to it last year; Stagni can’t afford to switch his vote.
Meaning that with Stagni, you’ve got all 68 Republicans. Add Thompson and you’re at 69. Add Adams and you’re at 70 and it’s done. The others, knowing their votes aren’t decisive, will probably jump aboard knowing that even though their constituencies might be Democratic they’re still not on board with men invading women’s sports. C. Travis Johnson is from Ferriday, for crying out loud – do you think that stuff plays there?
So Edwards can’t win on this bill. He either cuts his throat with the national Democrats by signing it, or he burns his own party in next year’s statewide and legislative elections by vetoing it. That’s why most people think he takes a powder this time.
And that’s a signal, which hopefully the legislative leadership is smart enough to recognize, that the barn door is open and it’s time, as Jeff Sadow noted this morning, to let the horses out. There ought to be a freight train full of conservative bills fighting insane woke cultural aggressions in this state. Pass those, and flood his desk with them, and let him try to veto them.
In the past, it’s been a practice of legislative leaders in this state not to subject the membership to difficult votes on issues of principle like this. But that doesn’t work anymore. The status quo in this country, culturally and otherwise, can’t just be left alone. We’re in too steep a decline and it requires the stones to act if we’re going to stop it.
And John Bel Edwards isn’t the imperial figure he’s been allowed to masquerade as for the last several years. Not anymore. Lean on him and he’ll collapse, much like he’s likely to do here.