Jamie Pope contributed (greatly) to this article.
Governor Edwards vetoed thirty-one (31) bills in the 2021 regular session. There are two that have garnered most of the attention. However, as we’ll outline below, a large number of these vetoes kill very good bills, some of which received super-majority (veto-proof) votes.
Also remember that on June 29, 2021, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez had a meeting with Governor John Bel Edwards. The very next day Page Cortez released this statement:
“While the Legislature has not yet received any official Veto Messages from the Governor, I believe that if the administration does ultimately veto SB 156 (The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act) that the members of the Senate will likely proceed with the Constitutionally mandated Veto Override session set to begin on July 20th.”
Of course, we don’t know what was discussed in the meeting. However, there are a few theories about this all being a way to cleanse the speaker’s image. Jamie Pope wrote about the override session previously, which included several of the vetoed bills we’ve been following. Check it out here.
Primed for an override.
HB 1 is the state’s appropriations bill. Edwards didn’t veto the whole thing. There were eight line-item vetoes. Danny McCormic had two lines cut, worth about $100,000. The governor did not issue a specific reason for these vetoes.
HB 38 is the transparency in school spending bill. This bill by Rick Edmonds Provides for school board information to be accessible on the Louisiana Fiscal Transparency Website known as Louisiana Checkbook. HB 38 passed the House with 99 yays and the Senate with 27 yays. The governors reason for vetoing this bill insinuated that schools can not afford to be transparent.
“Our local school systems simply do not have the resources or technology to comply with this unfunded mandate.”
HB 103 prohibits the state from refusing business licenses or professional license solely on the basis of refusal to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. Danny McCormick’s bill protects business owners. It passed in the House with 65 yays and 27 nays. HB 103 passed Senate with 23 yays and 12 nays. The governor’s reason for veto was the same with 349 and 498.
“This bill is one of three bills passed by the legislature involving COVID-19 vaccines. I am vetoing this bill for many of the same reasons that I vetoed House Bill 498. These bills contribute to the false narrative that the COVID-19 vaccines are anything other than safe and incredibly effective.”
HB 149 Provides relative to termination of emergency declarations. Larry Frieman brought this bill after the governor refused to acknowledge a petition to end his emergency was valid. Rather than comply, Edwards chose to sue the Speaker of the House. an update of that court case can be found here. HB 149 passed with 58 yays in the house and 25 yays in senate. Last session Edwards vetoed a similar bill. His explanation for vetoing this one was wordy but he settled on the previous bill being the reason.
“I have vetoed House Bill 149 from our recently ended session because it did not sufficiently improve the vetoed bill from last year.”
HB 349 Prohibits requiring vaccination verification or immunity status for certain transactions or for inclusion on a driver’s license or special identification card. Kathy Edmondston brought this bill to prevent things like vaccine passports. Citizens have reached out to legislators fearing vaccine passports would become a an issue in Louisiana. This bill passed the house with 71 yays and 18 nays. It passed senate with 33 yays and 3 nays. Although there have been side effects and deaths reported Governor Edwards vetoed the bill for the reason below.
“These bills contribute to the false narrative that the COVID-19 vaccines are anything other than safe and incredibly effective.”
HB 498 Prohibits discrimination by government agencies and officials on the basis of vaccination or immunity status. Kathy Edmondston’s bill passed the House 71/28. In the Senate HB 498 passed 25/10. Although other bills were vetoed because the governor felt they were discriminatory, he vetoed this bill against discrimination. Although Edwards has turned to bribery and coercion to push the vaccine, he is worried this bill would undermine the faith of the public in the Covid-19 vaccine.
“While questions about the safety and efficacy of any vaccines are understandable, a few bills passed the legislature which undermine the faith of the public in the COVID-19 vaccines.”
HB 597 prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from entering into public works or procurement contracts with companies that discriminate against firearm entities or trade associations. Blake Miguez’s bill passed the House with 79 yays and 22 nays. It passed Senate with 25 yays and 8 nays. Edwards complained about legislators doing their job and coming to agreement in conference. He also claimed the bill would interfere with the governments ability to do what they have always done.
“What this bill would actually do is prevent the State and local governments from complying with long-standing procurement laws which require that public contracts be awarded to the lowest qualified bidder.”
HB 704 provides relative to elections. Our Executive Director, Michael Lunsford, testified in support of this bill ini house committee. Valarie Hodges’ bill would do a few things but Edwards mostly responded to the part about poll watchers. This bill would allow all recognized parties to have poll watchers in each precinct. The bill passed the house 68/31. It passed Senate 37/1. The governors response:
“There is no good reason to further politicize the operation of elections by inserting the state central committee of certain parties into the poll watching process.”
SB 63 requires certain absentee ballots to be delivered to an employee of the registrar of voters. This is another bill that had 0 nay votes. HB 63 passed with 100 in the House and 35 in Senate. The governor still vetoed it.
“This bill is intended to provide clarity on where an absentee ballot may be returned if hand delivered. However, as finally passed, it is now unclear as to whether hand delivery can only take place during the period for conducting early voting or whether hand delivery can take place at an early voting location if it is during the time period for conducting early voting. Access to voting is too important for this uncertainty and so I have vetoed this bill.”
SB 118 is the constitutional carry bill by Jay Morris. This bill has nearly 40 coauthors. Sb 118 passed the house with 73/28 and Senate with 27/9. The governor vetoed the bill. Edwards also talked 12 Louisiana Police Chiefs to do a press conference saying they are against the bill. the rest of the 64 did not go along with it. Louisiana is an open carry state. The only difference between open carry and conceal carry is a piece of fabric and the government collects a few bucks. Governor Edwards had this to say:
“There is simply no good reason why the State of Louisiana should provide for concealed carry of weapons for people that have no training on how to properly use a gun.”
SB 156 is known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports act. This bill by Beth Mizell passed 78/19 in the house and 29/6 in Senate. Although the governor vetoed a bill against discrimination, he claimed to veto this one because he is against discrimination. Edwards also spoke as if the bill solved an issue that does not exist. See 2021 Olympics and you will find this bill addressed situations that are reality. In the end John Bel Edwards admitted what most knew, his veto was about money.
“Lastly, it is clear that if this bill were to become law, it would have a major effect on the economy of Louisiana. Many national conventions and conferences have made it clear that they may not select Louisiana as a destination if this bill were to be signed.”
SB 224 provides for voter identification information and verification requirements for absentee by mail and early voting ballots. This bill by Heather Cloud aims to make voting more secure. It passed the House 60/27 and Senate 36/0. The governor questioned the competency of Louisiana citizens and vetoed SB 224.
“We should strive to make access to voting easier for voters, not create barriers.”
That wraps up the vetoes I’m hopeful will be overridden. Following are the remaining bills. Some of them are compelling. One of the vetoes was actually a good thing.
HB 26 Changes the value required for crude oil produced from stripper wells to be exempt from severance tax. This bill by Danny McCormick passed the House with 68 yays and 18 nays. The bill passed Senate with 36 yays and 1 nay. Still, Edwards vetoed it.
“While the Legislature has taken steps to address tax reform through the streamlining of the sales tax and remodeling the income and franchise taxes during this session, the broad severance tax recommendations were put on hold.”
HB 138 addressed registered voters that are considered inactive or have relocated. This bill by Les Farnum passed the House by 64 yays and 30 nays. It passed Senate by 28 yays and 10 nays. Edwards vetoed the bill saying:
“The “supplemental annual canvas” provided for in this bill is repetitive and unnecessary.”
HB 148 puts the new Monroe Medical School in the same tax posture as the other medical schools. The bill by Michael Echols passed the House with 97 yays 1 nay. It passed Senate with 37 yays and 0 nays. Even still Edwards vetoed it. Although nearly every single legislator felt this was necessary, Edwards did not respect their decision.
“I do not believe that the author of the bill made a sufficient case of why this tax exemption is necessary at this time.”
HB 256 Allows teachers or other employees of a city or parish school board under a collective bargaining agreement to have dues for an organization for teacher or school employees withheld from their paychecks. Phillip Tarver’s bill passed the House with 72 yays and 28 nays. HB 256 passed Senate with 26 yays and 11 nays. Edwards believed this bill went against what was always done so he vetoed it.
“There is long-standing jurisprudence that a local school board has the right to enter into exclusive contracts with organizations in order to effectively and efficiently accomplish its objectives and purposes.”
HB 263 authorizes judges of the City Court of Shreveport to serve as an attorney member of a medical review panel. Alan Seabaugh’s bill passed the House with 98 yays and 0 nays. The Senate passed it with 35 yays and 0 nays. You read that right, not a single nay vote. Edwards still vetoed the bill admittedly based on assumption.
“Because this carve out would only exist until August 1, 2031, it can only be assumed that it is intentional and for a specific individual in the City of Shreveport.”
HB 289 establishes an income and corporate franchise tax credit for Class II and Class III railroads. Although Jack McFarland’s bill passed the House 96/1 and Senate 36/0, Governor Edwards vetoed it.
“With legislators seeking additional general fund revenues to dedicate to transportation infrastructure, the reluctance to move legislation increasing the gas tax, and the looming sunset of the additional 0.45% of state sales tax in June 2025, the creation of a new tax credit to fund privately owned infrastructure only serves to exacerbate the state’s transportation funding dilemma.”
HB 295 would remove the requirement to attach a certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate. It would also remove the provision requiring the deceased to not leave immovable property. Although this bill passed with 90 yays and 0 nays in the house and 37 yays 0 nays in Senate, it was vetoed. While Edwards explained his opinion of the bills intent, he gave no clear reason for the veto.
“This bill, as finally passed, would eliminate the requirement that a certified copy of a death certificate be attached to the affidavit required to administer a small succession outside of probate. It is clear from committee debate in both chambers that the intent of both the author and the committees is that the legislation eliminate the necessity of a certified copy of the death certificate but alternatively require the affidavit to be an authentic act with a copy of the death certificate attached. Instead, the bill requires either an affidavit with a copy of the death certificate or an affidavit that is an authentic act.”
HB 365 Requires that one member of the Louisiana State Racing Commission be a horseman nominated by the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association. This bill by Les Farnum passed the House 99/0 and Senate 37/1. Yet, John Bel Edwards used his veto power on this one too.
“The bill in its final form, however, additionally requires a percentage of the net commission on wagers on historical horse races made at off-track wagering facilities to be distributed to supplement live horse racing purses. The bill allocates the money proportionately based on the number of race days each association conducted in the preceding year, creating an inequitable distribution.”
HB 438 allows a custodian to require sufficient information to establish the identity of the requestor of a public record. This bill by Blake Miguez passed the House with 97 yays and Senate with 36 yays. There were no nay votes. Why did Edwards veto HB 438?
“There is simply no good reason for this bill.”
HB 562 Makes changes to the administration of state and local sales and use tax collections, specifically through the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board and the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers. Ryan Bourriaque’s bill passed with 98 yays in the House and 36 yays in Senate. There were no nay votes. The governor wrote a long veto message. he ended with this:
“I look forward to considering the funding provisions as a part of the budget submission process for the Board of Tax Appeals later this year.”
HB 571 Provides relative to alcoholic beverage delivery. This bill, by John Stefanski, passed the house with 88 yays and 10 nays. It passed Senate with 35 yays and 10 nays. The governors focus was the possibility of alcohol delivered to college students.
“No delivery to college campuses should be permissible and this would be consistent with existing statutory framework for alcohol delivery.”
HB 698 Provides for state agency partnerships to improve Medicaid administration and program integrity. The house passed Tony Bacala’s bill 66/31. Senate passed this bill 38/0. The governor said it compares apples to oranges and vetoed it.
“While there exist several exceptions to this confidentiality provision, this approach and unfunded mandate duplicates existing processes with little return on investment. Specifically, any statistics relative to a domiciliary parent claiming a dependent for tax purposes will inherently conflict with rules pertaining to the household size for Medicaid eligibility rules, thus presenting an apples versus oranges approach that will undoubtedly be misconstrued and misinterpreted.”
SB 43 Provides for the regulation of certain advertisements for legal services. Barrow Peacock’s bill passed the House with 70 yays and 30 nays. SB 43 passed Senate with 34 yays and 1 nay. The governor vetoed a similar bill during the 2020 regular session. He added:
“The Louisiana Supreme Court published rules regarding regulation of attorney advertising just last month. Those rules can be found at https://www.lasc.org/press_room/press_releases/2021/2021-14-Order_Amending_LA_Professional_Rules_of_Conduct_Attorney_Advertising_Rules.pdf. Should additional changes be needed in the area of attorney advertising, it should be done by the Louisiana Supreme Court in a manner consistent with the Louisiana and United States constitutions.”
SB 145 provides relative to mandatory drug testing, screening, and assessment for drug and specialty court participation for certain offenders. Rick Ward’s bill passed the House with 97 yays and Senate with 37 yays. This bill had 0 nays. The governor disregarded Their vote.
“Certainly, the office, which has been charged with these tasks for more than two decades, is in the best position to determine the needs of each jurisdiction when it comes to enhancing access to drug and specialty courts throughout the state. For this reason, and the many others discussed above, I have vetoed Senate Bill 145.”
SB 203 exempts certain groundwater district commissioners from provisions of the Code of Governmental Ethics. Bodi White’s bill passed the House with 76 yays and 22 nays. The bill passed Senate with 35 yays and 1 nay. Edwards defended his appointee decisions. The Louisiana Board of Ethics also opposed this bill. This was a good veto.👍
“The industrial users of the aquifer can provide nominations of individuals that will not run afoul of the ethics code, and my most recent appointees to the Commission do not have this issue. Should the legislature come back in the next session with an exception that is narrowly drafted to cure a previous inadvertent violation, I will support it.”
SB 220 provides relative to the legislative auditor examinations, audits, and reviews of elections and retention of election records. Heather Cloud’s bill passed the House with 68/28 and Senate with 37/0. Edwards chalked this up to another unnecessary bill.
“While costs should not be the only consideration in discussing election integrity, it certainly is a consideration in this instance when there has been no legitimate allegation that statutory election processes have not been followed.”