SADOW: Veto Session Tally Reveals GOP Cowards, Posers

Over the next several months especially Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature who were derelict in their duty will try to fob off excuses for cancelling the 2022 veto session. None are convincing.

Representatives came through with only six Republicans sending in a ballot to cancel. This left 63, ten more than necessary, to keep on the session. However, the party in the Senate let down the people, with all Democrats joined by 14 – over half – of their GOP counterparts giving their consent to cancel.

The phenomenon particularly applied to those term-limited who, unless they have aspirations for another office, will leave elective politics at the end of next year. All of those who can’t run for the Senate in 2023 and thus don’t have to face voter retribution over this – state Sens. Bret Allain, Fred Mills, Barrow Peacock, Bodi White, and Sen. Pres. Page Cortez – opted to take the easy way out and cancel.

Then there were those not limited such as state Sens. Louie Bernard, Patrick Connick, and Rogers Pope, usually voting less on the left than the right but who also fold up too often on key conservative votes ended up holding to form. Bernard and Pope, however, already have disavowed a reelection attempt.

That leaves state Sens. Mark Abraham, Franklin Foil, Beth Mizell, Jay Morris, Mike Reese, and Glen Womack who typically can be depended upon for crucial conservative votes but who abandoned ship this time. Mizell, the body’ second-in-command who suffered a veto and failed override on a bill last year that she brought back this year that Cortez and Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder put on a fast track to avoid the possibility of a veto session to override if vetoed a second time and got it through, seems to have pulled the ladder up after she climbed it. And Morris had two high-profile bills vetoed yet mysteriously refused to defend his own work, which makes questionable any claim that he might make in the future that his bills are important enough to pass.

Any or all of the above will try to worm their way out of admitting they failed their constituents with a variety of excuses, starting with that none of the vetoed legislation was so crucial that it couldn’t wait a year. Yet several addressed immediate matters; for example, there are plenty of local elections as well as those for Congress this year that made particularly relevant and relevant now those items dealing with election integrity.

Another lame justification will invoke the money saved by not meeting, about $50,000 a day. Don’t fall for this chicanery: when they qualified to run for office, they signed up to attend veto sessions if elected. The only reason not to attend these is if they believe nothing vetoed is worth overriding; the expenses are irrelevant because attending veto sessions is part of the job description optional only as a statement about the relative worthlessness, in their opinions, of the vetoed bills.

And even if overrides fail, it’s money well spent, because it strengthens accountability between constituents and their representatives when the latter go on the record about issues. Of course, acting to cancel a veto session perhaps does the same thing on the cheap: without spending the money, we know these six House and 14 Senate Republicans in reality repudiate the bills in question.

The clever response to this is that they may admit it’s their duty to attend veto sessions which serves to increase accountability, but they can vindicate not having one when they have signals – in this case from Pope and White who said, respectively, he wouldn’t vote and he wouldn’t attend which would make any Republican-only override attempt unsuccessful – of the futility of any such attempt. They could allege that accountability is lost anyway because those trying to dodge it, who secretly opposed vetoed bills but voted for these because they knew a veto was coming, can vote for overrides they don’t really want knowing there weren’t the votes for success. Thus, with accountability obscured and removed as a benefit of having such a session, try to save money by calling it off, they claim

However, this argument also fails because many of the same items will reemerge next legislative session. Those trying to vote in a way to make themselves appear as something they aren’t for future elections’ sake eventually will be exposed, and the more they engage in what they think are show votes on an issue, the harder it becomes for them to repudiate that when they can’t avoid making a meaningful vote without negative electoral consequences. Accountability may be delayed, but it’s never denied as long as the will to encourage it exists.

Except way too many presumed conservative legislators have feet of clay. Voters need to be made aware of who they are and their penchant for ditching their jobs when it gets inconvenient to their lives.

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