Veto Session: How it happens and why is it happening this year

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Lawmakers are hinting a veto-override session is looking to be a sure thing. But what does it take to call a veto session, and why is this the year to call the rare vote?

There are two high-profile bills that have sparked the interest of the public and the legislators to overturn the governor’s vetoes. This would be the first time in the modern state constitution, adopted in 1974, that a veto session would take place.

When the governor vetoes a bill it automatically calls a veto session 40 days after adjournment. Usually, lawmakers will submit letters stating it is not necessary and the session won’t go on. In history, there have been two vetoes overturned under the modern constitution but they took place during the regular session in the 1990s.

“Really, it’s the first time since I’ve been elected six years ago that there was really any legitimate talk about a veto override and I think it’s because those two bills, and especially the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill are very emotional and they cross political boundaries,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Slidell Republican.

The bill that would prohibit transgender women from competing in female sports was the first veto to rally the Louisiana GOP and several other groups to support a special session.

“The Senate President, as well as the members of our body, are all hearing a lot from our constituents particularly about the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill,” Sen. Hewitt said. “All parents, whether you’re republican or democrat, don’t want their daughters or granddaughters to have to compete against biological males.”

Governor John Bel Edwards described the bill as a solution in search of a problem and said it is discriminatory to transgender children. Meanwhile, Sen. Hewitt said her office has been inundated with calls and emails to support a veto override on the bill.

“We had democrats and republicans in the legislature vote for that bill and it’s easy for voters to understand the bill,” Sen. Hewitt said. “So much of what we do is kind of complicated and in the weeds and so sometimes constituents don’t get as involved.”

The other bill would allow people over 21 to conceal carry a firearm without a permit or training. That veto sent another wave of outcry for the special session. The NRA has come out in support of the veto override claiming the “constitutional carry” bill protects second amendment rights. In his veto message, the governor said the training required for concealed carry permits help create more responsible gun owners and that many law enforcement agencies are against the bill.

So what comes next?

The governor will send his official letters of veto by the end of this week. Legislators have until July 15 to send their letters against a special session. If half the House or Senate submits letters, then the session won’t happen. If they don’t get a majority in opposition, the session will begin on July 20 and lawmakers have five days to get a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House to undo the veto.

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