Editorial: GOP veto session ends with a mean-spirited whimper over transgender bill

Editorial: GOP veto session ends with a mean-spirited whimper over transgender bill
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The Legislature is likely through messing with Gov. John Bel Edwards, who leaves office in January. And it’s not difficult to tell, after the anticlimax of the brief veto override session on Tuesday, who came out ahead.

It’s not the GOP majority in the Legislature.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, called it a “historic” occasion. And then, out of 25 bills and numerous other changes to the state budget vetoed by Edwards, Republicans in the House only offered a dozen measures that they sought to overturn.

They mustered a majority of their members but it takes a two-thirds vote to override, and override after override fell short. The three bills that made it as far as the Senate included one high-profile measure Edwards had vetoed, a ban on particular medical treatments for transgender youth.

It passed, in part, with votes from Democrats in culturally more conservative parts of Louisiana. The families it hurt would hardly call that a success.

But the list of what a self-described emboldened and independent legislative GOP wanted ended there. The Senate fell short of two-thirds support for two out of three of the House-passed overrides. 

History has rarely been made with less.

There was some drama. Onlookers jeered New Orleans lawmakers who pleaded for members to preserve the nonsurgical medical options available to transgender youth and talked of the hurtful consequences of such official targeting of already vulnerable young people. There have been no reported sex reassignment surgeries for minors in Louisiana, officials said.

A respected senior Republican senator, Fred Mills of Parks, pleaded for fellow senators to recognize the flaws that Edwards had identified in the anti-transgender measure, House Bill 648 by Rep. Gabe Firment, R-Pollock.

Like a frail and white-headed Cassandra, Mills, who also leaves office after this year, was greeted without enthusiasm by members of his own party. But he, like Edwards after the day’s events, predicted that the flaws in the Firment bill would make it vulnerable to legal challenges.

The House, the more party-oriented of the chambers, was the most deflated by events of the veto session, the third that members have chosen to hold in the four years of Edwards’ second term.

In fact, intraparty squabbling and score-settling marked the aftermath, with “true” conservatives of the “Freedom Caucus” sticking their knives into Schexnayder.

The speaker “worked tirelessly to prevent Republican members from bringing their vetoed bills up for reconsideration,” said caucus chairman Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport. “Only after being informed that Louisiana Freedom Caucus members were prepared to bring a motion to remove him as speaker did Schexnayder relent and allow the other bills to be heard.”

True or not, the statement underlined the considerable divisions among GOP members, who in theory control both chambers with two-thirds supermajorities.

And in fact, House leaders working on budget bills — which the governor patched up after a chaotic close of the regular session in June — declined to bring them up for reconsideration.

That, we think, was a victory for taxpayers, as the House-led changes in the session’s final hours threatened a loss of federal funding and thus needless cuts in health care.

Perhaps the headline event was inspired by mean-spirited hysteria over transgender youth. Still, if you think of John Bel Edwards’ two terms in baseball terms, he’s batting in the high .900s on vetoes upheld.

That sounds more like the stuff of which history is made.

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About Mary Weyand 12323 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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