BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Legislature assembled Tuesday, July 18, for the 2023 veto override session. The majority Republican Legislature believed it had the votes to overturn several of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes.

More than 25 items could have been taken up during this session.

The session ended Tuesday with 12 bills being reconsidered and one veto, which prevented a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, being overturned. The ban will now go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Any override required the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate.

The session had to start on the 40th day after sine die adjournment. It could only last a maximum of five days. This was the third since the adoption of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution.

Legislature overrides veto

The Legislature overturned the veto on HB648, which bans gender-affirming care for minors. The House vote was 75-23. The Senate vore was 28-11.

Edwards said:

“In eight years as a Democratic governor with a Republican legislature, I have issued 319 vetoes. More than 99% of those vetoes have been sustained. Usually, we have been able to find common ground to move Louisiana forward, and I am thankful to the legislature for all the good we have accomplished together. But we have also had profound disagreements. Just two of my vetoes have been overridden. The first time I was overridden, on the Congressional district map, I said the bill was illegal and I expected the courts would throw it out. The courts have done so. Today, I was overridden for the second time, on my veto of a bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and their healthcare professionals. I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill, as well.”

Shortly after the vote, the ACLU of Louisiana issued the following statement:

“Lawmakers who voted to overturn Governor Edwards’ veto of House Bill 648 have chosen to sacrifice the health and safety of Louisiana’s transgender children and undermine the rights of their parents. This is extreme government overreach and a direct threat to the civil liberties and constitutional rights of all Louisianans. We condemn today’s override of HB648, and we will never stop fighting to protect the rights of transgender youth and their families.”

Governor’s race candidate State Sen. Sharon Hewitt said, “We don’t allow kids to vote, gamble, get a tattoo, buy alcohol or tobacco until they are of age. Why would we allow them to consent to irreversible medical interventions that cause sterilization and have serious physical and mental side effects?”

Attorney General Jeff Landry, who also is running for governor, said, “Today, Louisiana joins all of its neighboring states in protecting children. We have sent a signal to America that Louisiana intends to strengthen the family unit and to protect children from harmful gender reassignment surgeries. By overriding the Governor’s veto of Representative Gabe Firment’s bill, we send a clear signal that woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not be tolerated in Louisiana. And I’m proud of those in the Legislature who voted to make this override successful.”

Louisiana legislators again find themselves on the wrong side of history today with their vote to override the veto on this cruel, dangerous, and likely unconstitutional ban on essential health care. This session, we saw extremist lawmakers repeatedly undermine the democratic process to ram through their hateful legislation despite widespread public outcry and consistent opposition from medical experts, LGBTQ+ advocates, and Louisiana parents.

There is no place for politics in people’s personal medical decisions. Like all people, young transgender folks in Louisiana deserve access to lifesaving and life-affirming health care. While we are deeply saddened by this display of cruelty, together with our partners we will keep up the fight for a Louisiana where all people can get the health care they need. 

Petrice Sams-Abiodun, PhD, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships – Louisiana, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

Vetoes the House wanted to overturn, failed in Senate

The House voted to override the veto of HB125, which would restrict foreign adversaries’ ownership of agricultural property. In the House, it passed 72-25. The Senate failed to override the veto. The first vote was 24-14, and the second was 23-15.

The House overturned the veto of HB399, which would make information on vaccine exemptions in schools more accessible. The vote was 70-27. The Senate failed to override the veto. The first vote was 24-14, and the second was 23-16.

Vetoes the House opted to sustain

The House sustained the veto of HB81. The bill would prohibit using preferred names and pronouns in schools without parental permission. It failed 67-29, without two-thirds of the vote.

HB166 failed with a 69-29 vote. It was related to budget forecasting.

The attempt to overturn HB182 failed with a 69-28 vote. The bill would keep a COVID-19 vaccine from being required for school or university enrollment.

HB188 would keep some dangerous offenders from getting parole. The attempt to overturn the veto had a 67-29 vote.

The motion to overturn HB309 failed with a 66-29 vote. The bill eas tied to home and commercial insurance discounts or rate reductions for certain circumstances.

The motion to overturn the veto of HB466, the state’s version of the Don’t Say Gay bill, failed with a vote of 68-28.

The House sustained the veto of HB415. The bill would define central bank currency as “a digital currency, a digital medium of exchange, or a digital monetary unit of account issued by the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System, or a federal agency of the United States, that is processed, validated, or made directly available to a consumer.” The vote was 69-29.

The House also sustained the veto of HB658, which pertains to healthcare pricing transparency requirements. The vote was 69-29.

The House sustained the veto of HB646, which allows for an additional canvas of voters. It failed 69-30.

I am disappointed that the legislature was not able to override the governor’s misguided and highly partisan veto of HB 646. I have long said that this bill is critical to maintaining accurate voter rolls in our state. Although this bill did not become law, our office will continue to implement and execute the election integrity policies and procedures that make our state a national leader in safe and secure elections.

I wish to thank Rep. Les Farnum for his work on this legislation for the past three years, and all members of the legislature who recognized the importance of the legislation and voted to override its veto. I call upon the next Secretary of State to pursue this legislation under a pro-election integrity governor next year.”

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin