The Louisiana Legislature will not convene for a veto session later this month.
Twenty-six senators returned signed declarations rejecting any attempt to override Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of a cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees and teachers or any of the other bills he rejected from the 2015 legislative session. Jindal also red-lined some items in the state budget bill.
Legislation jettisoned by the Republican governor included measures to put new spending restrictions on the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, Louisiana’s free college tuition scholarship; to add restrictions to state agencies’ ability to privatize services; and to provide a method for collecting state sales tax from online retailers.
Sponsors of most of the vetoed bills didn’t turn in ballots to cancel the session.
Retired state employees tried to get legislators to hold a session to overturn the vetoed 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, or an average of $30 per month, for about 130,000 retirees. The pension measure would have cost $351 million, paid from the retirement systems’ excess investment earnings.
The Retired State Employees Association circulated a message pointing out that many of the legislators are up for re-election and adding that support for a veto session should be the litmus test at the voting booth this fall.
Two-thirds of the 39-member Senate voted to cancel the session. Only a majority was needed. A majority of only one of the two chambers can reject a veto session. Legislators in at least one chamber had to send ballots by midnight Thursday to say a veto session was not needed. Otherwise, one automatically would have occurred.
Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, objected to the session, saying he didn’t believe lawmakers would have the two-thirds vote required to override a Jindal veto even if they returned. He said the gathering would be a waste of taxpayer money.
If it had been up to the House, there would have been a session. Only 32 of its 105 members returned declarations saying a session was not needed.
A veto session has not been held in the more than four decades since the latest Louisiana Constitution was approved.
The House has been more inclined to hold veto sessions in recent history, but the Senate traditionally has dashed any chance of one. Since 2007, there have been three instances where the House did not return sufficient ballots to call off a veto session, but the Senate did, thereby canceling the midsummer meeting.
The House provided a link to legislative leaders’ letter notifying Jindal that there would be no veto session as well as where state representatives stood on the need for a veto session.
The Senate released a list of those senators who did not return “no session needed” declarations. They either favored the session or missed the deadline to respond. They included state Sens. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge; Sherri Buffington, R-Keithville; Page Cortez, R-Lafayette; A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell; Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville; Rick Gallot, D-Ruston; Fred Mills, R-St. Martinville; J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans; Ed Murray, D-New Orleans; Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa; Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville; Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans; and Gary Smith, D-Norco.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the State Capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.compoliticsblog/.