The Louisiana State Capitol (Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)
While the Louisiana Conservative Caucus is pushing for a veto override session, Republicans who lead the House of Representatives don’t think it’s likely.
The caucus put out a statement Thursday on Facebook calling for a veto override session. The group, made up of 42 of the most vocal Republicans in the House, targeted their ire at Gov. John Bel Edwards’ rejection of bills pertaining to “religious freedom and personal liberty.” The caucus was also critical of Edwards for striking down bills dealing with criminal justice and education savings accounts for struggling public school students.
“The Conservative Caucus has always supported and defended our Republican colleagues,” Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield and chairman of the caucus, said in the statement. “And if the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate thought these bills were worthy of becoming law, then we should all band together to ensure that becomes reality.”
In an interview, McFarland said he received an unusual amount of calls asking for a veto override session. Support for an override session has been wide-ranging, from law enforcement, local officials, conservative advocates and baptist ministers, he said.
In Louisiana, a veto override session automatically occurs 40 days after a regular legislative session unless a majority of lawmakers in either the House or the Senate send in ballots to cancel it.
Last year was the first time legislators opted to hold the session, which resulted in zero overrides but marked a new era of increased tension between the Legislature and the governor.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, the second-highest ranking legislator in the House, said a veto session is unlikely and unnecessary. Lawmakers have already convened for two redistricting sessions and a regular session.
“Going into a third special session would likely just waste tax dollars as it will be difficult to have the votes to override,” Magee said. “Without the guarantee of an override, another session would likely upset the public as wasteful.”
Magee said he didn’t think any of the vetoed bills couldn’t wait until the next session for their sponsors to attempt to get them approved again.
Among the bills with strong support from conservatives that Edwards vetoed were:
- a proposal from Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slide, that would have sent state tax dollars to private school or homeschooling programs for students reading below their grade level;
- a bill by Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, that would have made discrimination based on vaccination status a punishable crime, although it was amended to only allow the pursuit of civil penalties; and
- attempts to create stricter penalties for criminals, including a bill from Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe, that sought to make it harder for anyone convicted of killing a police officer or first responder in the line of duty to receive good time while in prison.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.