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Democrats win today, set up for loss tomorrow

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won the battle, and progress in Louisiana lost. But the victory for state Democrats looms Pyrrhic.

In the historic veto override session, Republicans were unable to override Edwards’ veto of SB 156. The commonsense bill prevents biological males, who have a genetic physical advantage over females, from competing in female-only sports at the scholastic and collegiate level that would discriminate against female competitors.

The Senate approved an override on a party-line vote, which hit right at the two-thirds threshold because Republican state Sen. Ronnie Johns took a dive. But defections and no-shows from Republicans state Sens. Louie Bernard, Patrick Connick, Fred Mills, and Rick Ward doomed other attempts as Democrats held firm.

Politics over principle marks LA Senate votes

Louisiana Senate Democrats would rather inject divisive partisan politics than stand by superior legislation they once supported, all for reasons of politics rather than principle – joined by a few Republicans-in-Name-Only that in a couple of cases leads one to wonder what inducements Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards offered them to change their votes.

That lesson came through the Senate’s consideration of bills vetoed by Edwards, after taking up five vetoed bills. Eleven Democrats voted both on Senate final passage and on override consideration, while newcomer Democrat state Sen. Gary Carter had voted on final passage in the House and was the only of the bunch to have voted against consistently.

In order, starting with SB 156 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell, the most discussed of the vetoes and the only one gaining a successful override vote, four Democrats flipped to oppose the override: Regina Barrow, Katrina Jackson, Gary Smith, and Greg Tarver. Not a single one took to the floor to explain what had changed in less than a month-and-a-half to make them switch from support to opposition. All Republicans held the line on the bill that would prevent discrimination against females in scholastic and collegiate sports on the basis of sex.


Legislature must follow through with overrides

Louisiana’s legislative Republican majority, with help from transient other party allies, need to finish the job during this week’s veto session.

It’s not enough to have triggered a historic veto override session that sets the stage for overturning egregious vetoes by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Letting him off the hook without reversing anything only will embolden him to keep denying good legislation the kind of which many other states routinely pass. Two-thirds majorities in each chamber will do the trick.

The margins that produced the session provide a clue as to whether and how intensely the GOP can achieve its mission. In the House, 69 – all Republicans minus one plus a Democrat and no party member – voted against not having the session, one short of that majority. In the Senate, all 27 Republicans – one more than a supermajority – did so.


Veto session watershed in LA political culture

Louisiana’s political culture reached a milestone when the Legislature resoundingly rebuffed staying home from a veto override session.

Barely a third of legislators by the deadline last week turned in a ballot signifying they didn’t want one to occur, contrary to what has been the case since the implementation of the current 1974 Constitution. In the Senate, it followed party lines with all Democrats sending in one. In the House, the same happened except that Democrat state Rep. Francis Thompson didn’t and Republican Joe Stagni did. Of the three no party representatives, state Rep. Roy Daryl Adams didn’t while state Reps. Joe Marino and new former Democrat Malinda White did.

Putting down its foot on Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes makes two telling departures from the past. Firstly, until now a governor’s veto of bills passed late in a session have remained sacrosanct. With an asymmetry of power – the full weight of most of the executive branch compared to the relatively puny resources of the Legislature, especially in information, with thousand of full-time employees versus part-time legislators – governors almost always could maneuver things so that any potentially controversial veto could occur late enough so that only an override session could cancel it.


Special elections to test BC reform movement

As opposed to this spring’s regular election, a choice that could move Bossier City forward seems murkier for the city’s southern residents in this fall’s special election. Such a dilemma doesn’t exist for parish residents further north in the city.

Three candidates queued up to fill the vacancy in District 1: Democrat technology administrator Darren Ashley, Republican small businessman Brain Hammons, and independent consultant Michael “Lun” Lombardino. The election became necessary when spring winner Republican Shane Cheatham didn’t take the seat in anticipation of being named city chief administrative officer under Republican new Mayor Tommy Chandler.

Like Chandler, Cheatham had run under a reform banner that questioned city spending priorities and it lack of transparency in decision-making. They criticized then-incumbent Republican Mayor Lo Walker and the City Council, including Cheatham’s incumbent opponent Republican Scott Irwin, for keeping power-wielding among a close-knit group inside and outside of government.