The first veto session in Louisiana since the approval of the new state constitution almost 50 years ago did not provide an expected victory for state Sen. Beth Mizell, Republican of Franklinton.
Mizell’s bill prohibiting transgender students from participating in schools sports was vetoed earlier this summer by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. However, the state Senate voted narrowly on Tuesday to override the veto.The issue then moved to the state House of Representatives of Wednesday, where it was expected that the veto would also be overridden.
However, Mizell and other supporters of the transgender bill were surprised and disappointed when the House of Representatives narrowly failed to override the veto. The vote was 68-30 in favor of overriding the veto, but 70 votes in favor were needed --- so the override failed by 2 votes.
Meanwhile, a controversial veto of a bill that would remove certain requirements to have a concealed handgun in Louisiana was upheld by the state Senate on Tuesday. That affirms the governor’s veto of the measure, because it only takes one house (Senate or House of Representatives) to kill a veto override attempt.
It appeared to be unlikely that the Senate would overturn any other Edwards vetoes after a GOP senator, Patrick Connick of Jefferson Parish, said he wouldn't support additional overrides other than the transgender sports bill.
Supporters described the prohibition bill by Sen. Mizell, who is the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, as protecting girls in Louisiana schools and colleges from unfair competition. Supporters said transgender athletes have an automatic advantage in competitions against natural females.
In seeking the override of the governor’s veto, Mizell said to the state Senate before the override vote, “Without protection, women's sports would not exist. Nothing has changed. I ask you to do what is right for the girls of Louisiana and to put the politics aside on this.”
With the loss of Mizell’s bill in the House, the historic veto session was an unexpected strong win for the governor, with all of his vetoes affirmed. In the heavily Republican legislature, many expected the Democratic governor to lose some of the veto votes.
Following his big veto vote victory in the legislature, Edwards said, "I didn't veto any bills that I thought were in the best interests of Louisiana."
After the veto session ended, Sen. Mizell told The Era-Leader that she would introduce her transgender legislation again next session.
She commented, "The Louisiana legislature just completed a historic veto override session. Disappointing as it was that we did not get SB 156 (Fairness in Women's Sports) through the process, we did succeed in an override in the Senate.”
She added, “The fact that a Republican majority legislature asserted itself to respond to the vetoes of 28 bills is historic. These bills had been passed with strong support, some unanimously.”
“The (veto) session was illuminating nevertheless, in that it showed which legislators stood true to their conviction from their initial votes and which allowed political influences to sway them otherwise. This was a pivotal moment and will change the way the legislature uses its power as an independent branch as we have never seen. The Constitutional Carry bill had much support as well but failed to reach the 2/3 vote required in the Senate to override and that was a great disappointment. There were flipped votes, no shows and promises broken. In my presentation of SB 156 I asked members to vote their conscience as they had before and not be influenced by the sticks and carrots. I plan to bring the bill back in the next session."