Before the Veto Override Session began the political games were in full swing. From legislators not showing up to the governor admitting he made threats and promises to whip votes, the people never stood a chance at being represented.
Inability to Perform Duties
John Bel Edwards promised Senator Ronnie Johns he would be appointed Gaming Control Board Chairman. Reports are this is a $180,000 a year salary. However, Mike Noel (the previous job holder) made $214,600 last year. Conveniently Johns had knee surgery two weeks before session and claimed his doctor advised him against doing his job as Senator. He chose not to show up.
Representative Malinda White also cited medical reasons for not showing up. Malinda recently threatened Representative Alan Seabaugh with a gun. There is talk of possible charges over this threat of violence. Malinda White changed her political party from Democrat after the 2021 Regular Session adjourned.
On day one of session Speaker Clay Schexnayder kept the house at ease. However, Senate voted on the two hottest bills of 2021, SB 156 by Mizell and SB 118 By Morris. These two bills took credit for the historic Veto Override Session.
Senate Bill 156, The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, garnered enough senate votes to override the veto. SB 118 did not have the same luck. Senator Connick went to the podium with grievances about receiving many phone calls and emails. Some of them were ugly. He also expressed feeling torn between representing his constituents or backing the governor. In the end he chose John Bel Edwards over the people. He vowed not to vote in favor of an override on any other bill. Senator Foil also sided with the governor when it came to Constitutional Carry.
On the second day of session the House began with personal privilege. Some representatives did not know the rules, so they had to have a lesson on how a veto session works. The House Speaker seemed unsure of some parts and gave his personal opinion on how they should proceed.
While Senate suspended the rules to hear certain bills first, the House decided to return every bill to the calendar. This made no sense and raised a lot of brows. Unfortunately, Louisiana is all too familiar with crooked politics. By returning the bills to the calendar, they would have to call them back and vote for them to be heard.
When SB 156 was up for a vote, the House failed to override the veto. How could this be? Clay Schexnayder said he was 100% sure he had enough votes. Shouldn’t we be able to trust the word of the Speaker of the House?
Clay Schexnayder trusted a few Democrats to vote in favor of the override. Not surprisingly, they stuck with their party and did not vote with the Republican Delegation. In fact, they laughed and mocked the republicans as they scrambled to figure out what they should do next. Ted James waltzed in the chambers and twirled like a ballerina as he hurried to report what he overheard when he stepped off the elevator. The Republican Delegation was meeting and he overheard what they discussed. James and other Democrats made jokes about how the Republicans will get nothing. Republican Stagni also voted against the Republican Delegation on this override. This was not a good look for Clay Schexnayder’s leadership.
Sine Die Saves the Day
After a two hour “at ease” there was a call for Sine Die. This was Clay Schexnayder’s attempt to save face. To adjourn would mean not another bill would be heard. Session would end immediately. Citizens would never know how their legislators would have voted on other important bills. Legislators would not be held accountable. Only nine legislators voted against adjournment. The people not willing to put politics first were:
Give the Speaker a Break
There are those who think Clay Schexnayder has finally learned a lesson. Schexnayder is an opportunist, not a leader. He did not learn when the governor shut the state down. He did not learn when businesses were shutting down and people were losing jobs due to his inaction. Schexnayder did not learn when there was an active recall against him. He chose to try to intimidate constituents into silence when they begged him to fight for them. Why are the people supposed to believe he learned anything at this point? The Speaker of the House was bought and paid for just like Ronnie Johns. He did the job a united democratic party hired him to do.
The Speaker of the House posted on social media about how legislators did something that has never been done. The comments expressed brutal honesty and disappointment. Hopefully this means the people learned from all of this. It is time our elected officials stop putting politics over the people.