June 16, 2023
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued his first set of vetoes from the regular session late yesterday, but high-drama items are still in the wind.
Speculation continues to grow over how Edwards will address the main budget bill and its surprise $100 million cut to the Health Department. The governor has also vowed to ax a package of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, which alone could trigger a veto override session.
According to an Edwards spokesperson, the governor is unlikely to act on these specific measures until the week of June 26.
Yesterday afternoon the governor vetoed SB 196, the Litigation Financing Disclosure and Security Protection Act, and, more importantly, issued line-item vetoes for HB 560, a supplemental spending bill.
Lawmakers who took pronounced positions against busting the spending cap saw their projects cut from the latter, such as, but not limited to, Reps. Raymond Crews, Dodie Horton and Danny McCormick.
(The supplemental spending plan found in HB 560 was just one of the measures lawmakers used to spend $2.2 billion in excess cash. The House has prepared this document and this one to show how the total sum was expended.)
As for those “anti-LGBTQ+” bills, Louisiana Republican Party Chair Louis Gurvich told lawmakers this week they should plan to support these measures from veto — particularly the legislation on gender-affirming care — or "suffer the consequences."
When it comes to the budget, Edwards seems comfortable waiting to see what the Senate can find in its own review next week. Senate Health Chairman Fred Mills has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on the $100 million surprise reduction to the Health Department.
During an online forum hosted last week by the Public Affairs Research Council, Appropriations Chairman Zee Zeringue predicted Edwards would veto other areas of the budget, possibly pulling from debt payments or legislative projects, to cover the Health Dept’s shortfall.
There are, of course, other bills under review by the governor and various special interests are lobbying him aggressively.
Among the latest is Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who sent a letter to the governor this week asking him to sign HB 646 into law. The bill by Rep. Les Farnum sets up a revised canvass protocol. Edwards vetoed a similar proposal last year.
"In last year’s veto message, you state: ‘it is simply unnecessary,’" Ardoin writes. "You cite the fact that the ‘registrar of voters in each parish is already required to conduct an annual canvass.’ Yet, your message ignores the fact that it is an entirely different subset of data used in each of these canvasses. This is not a duplication of efforts nor an overlap of voters. Instead, the additional subset of data would allow us to canvass voters with absolutely no voter activity over the past 10 years. Voters would have an opportunity to respond to the canvass; and even then, would not be removed from the voter rolls. They would be placed on the inactive list for an additional two federal elections." Source: LA POLITICS Jeremy Alford 6/16/23.
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