Sam Hanna Jr.: Veto session both a win and loss for Edwards

It was a debacle to say the least.

The debacle in question was the special veto session of the Louisiana Legislature which came to a halt last week after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of legislation that would bar men who identify as women from participating in female sports at your local high school and such. Once the transgender vote fell short, there was no sense in Republicans sticking around to have their proverbial hind sides handed to them by a Democrat governor who clearly had convinced Democrat lawmakers to stick together. Accordingly, the special session blew up and came to an abrupt end.

From the outset it appeared Republican lawmakers stood the best chance of overriding Edwards’ veto of the transgender bill. After all, the legislation had passed the House and Senate by veto-proof margins during the regular session in the spring, or before Edwards leaned on Democrat lawmakers to embrace his priorities instead of their own. Still, the Senate overrode Edwards’ veto of the transgender bill without a vote to spare (26), setting the stage for a showdown in the House.

It was never going to be easy for House Speaker Clay Schexnayder to round up enough votes to override any of Edwards’ vetos of legislation that was near and dear to the conservative movement in Louisiana including the transgender bill and Sen. Jay Morris’ legislation to allow adults to carry a concealed weapon without a conceal carry permit. It takes 70 votes to override a veto in the House, and since there are just 68 Republicans in the House, that meant Schexnayder and his lieutenants had to convince a couple of Democrats and maybe an independent or two to go along with the majority. There was always the possibility of a moderate Republican breaking from the herd to side with governor, which one did.

Schexnayder maintains that a few lawmakers lied to him. He says those lawmakers committed to vote to override but when push came to shove, they bailed and sided with the governor. Schexnayder indicated there was a price to be paid for the disloyalty, which there should be.

As far as the conceal carry bill was concerned, Morris knew it was long-shot to muster a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers to override Edwards’ veto. The question is what does Morris do next? Perhaps he should consider introducing his legislation again next year but bring it in the form of a constitutional amendment. Lawmakers won’t hesitate to pass the buck and let the voters decide whether law-abiding adults should be allowed to exercise a constitutional right without asking the government for permission to do it.

For Edwards, the special session was a big win for him in the short term. His vetoes were upheld, and he proved that though Republicans control the Legislature numbers-wise, the fact of the matter is they control very little.

There is a downside to all of this for Edwards, too. This special session defined him. He can no longer claim he’s a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, and he can no longer pretend he’s a moderate Democrat of old as far social issues are concerned. Instead, he’s clearly a hardcore leftist.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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