Lawmakers share thoughts on veto session coming to an end

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The first-ever veto override session ended without any vetoes being undone. The main focus came down to the House of Representatives where the final vote took place on the bill that would prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams.

The legislators on either side brought the arguments from the governor’s veto message.

Those in support said it was a bill aimed to protect girls and their athletic achievements, but on the other side, it was seen as discrimination.

Rep. Laurie Schlegel spoke against the argument that overriding the veto could cause an economic impact.

“It’s unimaginable to me that we would let any outside organization hold our state hostage on a bill. Especially this one,” Rep. Schlegel said.

Rep. Royce Duplessis mentioned that no transgender girls are on high school sports teams or have gotten athletic scholarships. He also talked about how the vague language of the bill could lead to abuse.

“Not only would this create an unsafe athletic environment for transgender girls but based on the definition of unfairness that’s posed in the bill, it would create more unfairness in women’s sports,” Rep. Duplessis said.

Governor John Bel Edwards commented that the bill reflected issues being debated in Washington D.C. that he said do not reflect Louisiana.

“So we have some people fueled by passion, not by reason. Not a single proponent of the bill can point to a single instance in the state of Louisiana where the alleged unfair competitive advantage was conferred upon someone that they’re trying to prevent,” Gov. Edwards said.

The bill failed with a vote of 68 to 30 with six people absent. Seventy votes were needed to override with a two-thirds majority. One Democrat voted for the override and one Republican voted against it. While transgender advocates are celebrating, some lawmakers are frustrated with the need for the veto session. 

“It’s not a moment to celebrate. I hate that we have wasted taxpayer dollars on something we knew was not going to happen. For me, this bill was a solution in search of a problem,” Rep. Edward ‘Ted’ James II said.

There are talks of a similar bill being brought in the next session.

Immediately following the early dismissal of the session, Gov. Edwards gave his thoughts in a press conference.

He said a governor never wants to have his veto overridden and he believes that the legislature made the right choice. He echoed previous comments that the transgender athlete bill was not needed in the state.

Some have accused the governor of using favors and other incentives to get lawmakers to change their votes to stop the override.

“I suspect I used all those that were at my disposal that previous governors have used and that they were using downstairs themselves,” Gov. Edwards said. “Are you going to take politics out of politics? Now I will tell you very light on threats, not so light on promises.”

The governor also said he is still going to be willing to work with those who voted against his veto.

Now lawmakers are turning their main focus to the redistricting special session slated for early next year, which could change their representation.

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