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Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards Blocks Conservative Legislation in Louisiana

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards Blocks Conservative Legislation in Louisiana

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards Blocks Conservative Legislation in Louisiana

This year, the Republican supermajority in the Louisiana State Legislature pushed through laws prohibiting Covid vaccination requirements in schools, gender identity, and sexual orientation discussions in the classroom, and gender-transition treatment for minors.

It was the kind of assertive social policy program that has won support across the nation’s conservative states. However, lawmakers in Louisiana had to return to the Capitol this week, more than a month after the session finished, to try to save the legislation from collapse, in contrast to most such states where Republican bills easily become law.

John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, is the cause. In a state where Republicans have controlled the legislature for more than ten years, he has utilized vetoes as a bulwark against conservative legislation with some degree of effectiveness.

In Louisiana, governors have a history of using vetoes to their advantage; in the majority of cases, lawmakers haven’t even bothered to try to overturn them.

But this year, lawmakers made the decision to put that authority to the test. They met again to discuss overriding more than two dozen vetoes at a time when Republicans had tightened their hold on the legislature and Mr. Edwards, who is serving out his second term, was about to leave.

Republican state representative Raymond J. Crews urged his colleagues on Tuesday to support overcoming the governor’s veto of his bill, which would have mandated that schools refer to transgender pupils by the names and genders on their birth certificates. He said: “You voted for this before.” “I really hope you’ll do that again.”

Louisiana Governor Limits Republican Influence, Vetoes Overriden on One Bill

There weren’t enough votes for Mr. Crews. In fact, all but one of Mr. Edwards’s vetoes were still in effect when lawmakers adjourned late on Tuesday. The Republicans focused the majority of their efforts and resources on reviving the measure that prohibited minors from receiving transition care. This was the only exception.

The conclusion of the session, which lawmakers hurriedly completed on Tuesday, was a final illustration of how Mr. Edwards, a two-term governor who will leave office next year, has partially been successful in limiting the influence of Republican lawmakers.

“It’s kind of hard to be too disappointed,” said Republican State Representative Alan Seabaugh, who headed a group of some of the most conservative lawmakers. “We actually did override the veto on a very important bill.”

He agreed that Mr. Edwards remained a significant challenge. It demonstrates the power a liberal Democratic governor has over Republican lawmakers, according to Mr. Seabaugh.

Although many in the governor’s own party would contest the notion that Mr. Edwards, a centrist who opposed abortion and supported gun rights, belonged to the liberal camp, it was widely acknowledged that his departure in January might result in a substantial change in the political climate of the state.

After several decades of the governorship alternating between the two parties, many see a Republican succeeding Mr. Edwards as having a good chance of pushing Louisiana even further to the right.

In October, there is an all-party “jungle primary” in the state. According to polls, Jeff Landry, the state’s very conservative attorney general, and Shawn Wilson, a Democrat and former secretary of transportation and development, are the front-runners.

Mr. Edwards’s political survival has depended on the appeal of his biography—he is a West Point graduate and the son of a sheriff—and on his blend of social conservatism and progressive accomplishments, like expanding Medicaid, that fit Louisiana’s specific political landscape. In a state where former President Donald J. Trump won by 20-point margins in 2016 and 2020, Mr. Edwards’s political survival has hinged on these factors.

With his fervent opposition to abortion rights and his prudence in criticizing Mr. Trump, who as president went to considerable efforts to campaign against Mr. Edwards’s reelection, he has infuriated many members of his own party.

Even still, Mr. Edwards has been viewed as a crucial bulwark against conservative measures that have readily gained ground in adjacent states by Democrats who are skeptical of him.

“I do think that there’s always room for being a more vocal ally and a more staunch ally to our community,” Quest Riggs, who helped found the Real Name Campaign, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group in New Orleans, said of the governor. “But on the other hand, his vetoes have been a political tool that has been necessary to offset the mobilization by the evangelical right in Louisiana.”

For the first time in thirty years, lawmakers overrode a governor’s veto last year and reinstated a congressional district map that Mr. Edwards had criticized because it included just one district with a majority of Black voters despite the fact that Black people make up one-third of the state’s population. The U.S. Supreme Court gave permission for a legal challenge to the map to proceed last month.

The tweet below confirms the news:

Louisiana Governor’s Vetoes Blocked by Legislature

A bill that prohibited female transgender children from participating in school sports was also passed last year without Mr. Edwards’ signature because he believed a veto would be overridden.

In his eight years as governor, Mr. Edwards said last week that he had issued 319 vetoes, 317 of which had been upheld. Usually, he continued, “we have been able to find consensus to advance Louisiana.”

Legislators quickly passed the rejected legislation on Tuesday, including ones that forbade dangerous prisoners from getting parole and barred “foreign adversaries” from holding agricultural land.

Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers by a narrow margin, but overriding a veto takes a two-thirds majority vote in both houses. Tuesday saw the absence of two Republican state lawmakers, while some members of the House and Senate broke party ranks to oppose some overrides, angering their more conservative colleagues.

Legislators discussed differing interpretations of what it means to safeguard children when the topic of the restriction on gender transition care came up. Even though there is widespread consensus among the country’s major medical groups that such therapy can be beneficial for many patients, bill supporters claimed it would protect young people from treatments they claimed were risky and untested.

Here is a small selection of the news from the past several weeks; each of these items is worthy of further research:

Opponents of the prohibition contend that by preventing them from receiving medically essential care, it will endanger a tiny, vulnerable demographic of young people. The majority of the 20 additional states with identical legislation are being sued, and some of the restrictions have already been temporarily overturned by judges.

Seven Democrats joined the Republicans in the House, which voted 76 to 23 to override the veto. It was approved 28 to 11 in the Senate. Republicans declared triumph after the lone successful override.

“We sent a clear signal,” Mr. Landry, the attorney general and candidate for governor, said in a video posted online, “that woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not be tolerated in Louisiana.”

The political environment for the upcoming legislative session was a topic of discussion among lawmakers and spectators, particularly if Republicans were to keep their supermajority and win the governor’s race.

“What happens when they don’t have to hold back anymore?” said Robert E. Hogan, a political science professor at Louisiana State University, referring to Republican lawmakers if Democrats lose the governor’s race. “You’ll have a governor that’s powerful and on your side.”

The L.G.B.T.Q. community in particular has expressed concern about the idea, while conservatives’ aspirations have been boosted.

In order to reverse Mr. Edwards’ agenda, Mr. Seabaugh, who is leaving the House due to term limitations but is campaigning for a Senate seat, plans to pass some of the same laws next year without the worry of a veto. Mr. Seabaugh remarked, “I don’t think we can do it all in one year, but I’m sure going to try.

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Here is a small selection of the news from the past several weeks; each of these items is worthy of further research:

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