The state Legislature convened a veto override session today (Tuesday) at 12 noon to consider votes overriding Gov. John Bel Edwards' vetoes of legislative instruments previously approved.
Edwards drew the ire of state lawmakers after he vetoed Sen. Jay Morris' legislation paving the way for “constitutional carry” in Louisiana—carrying a concealed firearm without a permit—as well as legislation banning biological males from participating in female athletics.
“The majority of Senators have heard from their constituents who have asked them to take votes on the veto override,” said Senate President Page Cortez. “It has become clear that the majority of Senators felt compelled to return for the veto session based on constituent feedback.”
When the governor issues vetoes, the state constitution requires that a veto session be called on the 40th day following the adjournment of the most recent session, unless declared unnecessary by a majority of elected members of either house.
“In accordance with the Louisiana Constitution and the will of the majority of its members, the Legislature will return to Baton Rouge to consider overriding vetoes made by Governor Edward’s this session,” said Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder. “This is democracy in action.”
When asked about the veto override session, Edwards noted the State Constitution mandated such a veto override session but suggested lawmakers might not generate enough votes to override any of his vetoes.
Under the Constitution, a two-thirds vote in the state Senate and House of Representatives is required to override a governor's veto.
“I feel very good about the session overall,” Edwards said. “There's not a veto I issued that I don't fully stand behind. So we'll see what happens next week. It will be interesting.”
Morris, a Republican from West Monroe, suggested the Legislature might seek to override vetoes of other bills, too.
“Other bills, such as election reform, will also be on the agenda,” Morris said. “This is not a political play but rather a part of the political process envisioned by our Constitution & implemented through the heartfelt convictions of your Legislature. I pray we do right by the people of Louisiana.”
Sen. Stewart Cathey, a Republican from Sterlington, said he would vote to override Edwards' veto of the constitutional carry bill and the Fairness in Women's Sports legislation. Cathey previously did not answer inquiries from this newspaper about the matter.
State Reps. Michael Echols, R-Monroe, and Jack McFarland also voiced support for overriding Edwards' vetoes.
“In other states, veto sessions happen every year and aren’t this controversial,” said McFarland, a Republican from Jonesboro. “We have to make these the norm instead of the exception. And as long as you stay engaged and vocal, I think that’ll be the case regardless of who our governor is.”