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Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of the regular legislative session, June 10.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Friday he vetoed 28 bills, signed into law 477 others, and he is now done with the 2021 Regular Session of the Legislature.

He’s reportedly taking off to Maine for a few days.

But the Legislature may not be done with him. Both Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder have raised the possibility – even the likelihood – of reconvening on July 20 for an historic session to try to override gubernatorial vetoes. Both Republican legislative leaders have mentioned their disapproval of Edwards’ vetoing Senate Bill 156, which restricts transgender youth from participating in organized sports at public schools.

Edwards said the measure “unfairly targets children who are going through unique challenges and offers solutions to an issue that does not exist in Louisiana.”

Much talk was made at the anger surrounding his veto of a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without permit. But he also signed a measure allowing concealed carry if the person has training.

Any one of the 28 measures Edwards rejected could be added to the list during the short session where lawmakers would vote up or down on the governor’s decision. The House needs 70 of the 105 representatives to override a gubernatorial veto and the Senate would need 26 of the 39 members to go along.

Edwards dealt with all the measures passed by the Legislature in the session that ended June 10 – none became law without his signature.

He has pushed Louisiana to get vaccinated from the COVID-19, including a lottery of sorts that will hand out cash prizes and scholarships later this month for those who do.  So, it came as no surprise that he vetoed three bills that would have created ways for people not to get vaccinated, dismissing the legislation as contributing "to the false narrative that the COVID-19 vaccines are anything other than safe and incredibly effective."

Gonzales Republican Kathy Edmonston would have prohibited state agencies, including schools and colleges, from refusing to issue licenses, permits and access to anyone not vaccinated until the U.S. Food & Drug Administration upgrades its emergency permission to a full authorization.

Another Edmonston measure would have forbidden the Office of Motor Vehicles from putting immunization information on driver’s licenses and state identity cards. During testimony, an OMV official said the office couldn’t do that anyway without direct legislative authorization.

Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, wanted employers exempted from lawsuits if they didn’t require vaccinations of workers and customers.

Edwards also rejected legislation that would limit how future governors acted during a health emergency. The governor said called the bill “the latest attempt” for legislators to grab power and terminate health emergencies like the one he called for the COVID-19 pandemic. The language also allows legislators to operate in secret and waters down their legal obligation to consult with a public health authority thus making any legislative action “based on the political winds rather than scientific data,” Edwards said.

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He vetoed an effort to make school boards post their finances on the Louisiana Checkbook website, saying the districts couldn’t afford the unfunded expense as well as rejecting an expansion of the rules on delivering alcohol that he said could have allowed bringing strong drink to dorms on college campuses.

He refused to create a dedicated funding stream to drug and specialty courts for treatment programs because the wording was vague and would give the Attorney General “sole discretion” in determining what is appropriate in awarding grants.

Attorney General Jeff Landry responded: “The Governor has chosen to play Washington-style politics with this important piece of legislation,” which the Legislature passed without a single no vote.

Edwards also rejected a bill that would have provided a future exception to the ethics code for members of the Capital Area Groundwater commission.

He used his line-item veto on the state’s construction budget to cross off 11 projects worth $41.3 million in cash and bonding capacity. The rejected projects included money for a U.S. Hwy. 11 project in St. Tammany Parish, a few road improvements and a handful of park additions as well as a horseback riding arena.

Tightening voting procedures was one of the legislative goals for some Republicans.

On the last day Edwards could act, he vetoed a measure that would have required the Legislative Auditor to review elections saying it included no funding, leaving the costs for Secretary of State to pay. He jettisoned legislation on how to drop off absentee ballots as confusing and said no to allowing political parties – there are five recognized in Louisiana – to send monitors to each precinct during balloting. Candidates already are allowed watchers.

“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,” Edwards wrote in his July 1 veto message.

But he did sign legislation that creates commissions to review the purchase of voting machines, setting up an avenue for Louisiana to eventually convert to machines that use paper ballots.

He also signed into law the ability for a woman to change her mind after taking the first of two doses of pills that induce an abortion.

“More than 2,000 babies have been saved across America thanks to the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol, and we expect even more babies to be born thanks to this legislation,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life.

“While much has been made of a handful of controversial bills, the reality is that this legislative session has produced many good laws that will improve the lives of Louisianans, including a balanced budget that strongly positions our state for the coming year and significantly invests in education, people and families,” Edwards said in a statement. “We did this through bipartisan cooperation and compromise. As we have proven time and time again, the people of Louisiana are best served when all of us put aside our differences and focus on projects, programs, and progress for all."

The bills vetoed:

  • House Bill 2 Using his line-item veto authority, he crossed out projects from the state's construction budget.
  • HB26 Vetoed because it addresses important severance tax matters regarding crude oil in a piecemeal fashion.
  • HB38 Vetoed because local school systems do not have the resources or technology to comply with this unfunded mandate.
  • HB103 Vetoed because it is not necessary; it contributes to false narrative that the COVID-19 vaccines are anything other than safe and effective; and it does nothing to protect the health and safety of the public.
  • HB138 Vetoed because the registrar of voters in every parish is already required to do an annual canvas of all registered voters under current law.
  • HB148 Vetoed because the bill author did not make a sufficient case of why this state sales tax exemption for the Edwards Via College of Osteopathic Medicine is necessary at this time.
  • HB149 Vetoed because it was the latest attempt by the Legislature to remedy the obvious and adjudged defects in the petition signed by some House of Representatives members last October attempting to terminate the COVID-19 public health emergency and did not sufficiently improve the vetoed bill from last year.
  • HB256 Vetoed because it limits the ability of certain school boards to enter into exclusive contracts, thus limiting the ability of those Boards to manage their business in the manner they see fit.
  • HB263 Vetoed because it would carve out an exception to the prohibition of a judge, magistrate, district attorney, or assistant district attorney being chosen to serve on a medical review panel for purposes of the review required for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • HB289 Vetoed because it creates a new state income and franchise tax credit for qualified railroad track repairs, maintenance, reconstruction, or replacement by Class II and Class III railroads, or short line railroads and only serves to exacerbate the state’s transportation funding dilemma.
  • HB295 Vetoed because it 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.
  • HB349 Vetoed because it contributes to the false narrative that the COVID-19 vaccines are anything other than safe and incredibly effective.
  • HB365 Vetoed because it creates an inequitable distribution of net wagers on horse racing purses.
  • HB438 Vetoed because it could be used to delay responses to public records requests or intimidate members of the public into withdrawing their requests.
  • HB498 Vetoed because it attempts to undermine the public’s faith in the COVID-19 vaccines and change Louisiana’s approach to vaccine requirements for schools and educational facilities, which has been in place for decades without significant controversy.
  • HB562 Vetoed because, among other reasons, it is an infringement on the executive budget process.
  • HB571 Vetoed because it could allow alcohol delivery to college campuses, increasing access of alcohol to underage people, and also because it may infringe upon contracts legally signed by some Class B permit holders.
  • HB597 Vetoed because it would prevent state and local governments from complying with long-standing procurement laws and force them to accept financing at a higher interest rate than would otherwise be available in the market.
  • HB698 Vetoed because it risks non-compliance with the Internal Revenue Code, duplicates existing processes and calls for an unfunded mandate.
  • HB704 Vetoed HB 704 because it unnecessarily politicizes the election process by inserting the state central committee of certain parties into the poll watching process.
  • Senate Bill 43 Gov Edwards has vetoed SB 43 because it is likely unconstitutional in that regulation of attorney advertising is handled by the Louisiana Supreme Court and not the legislature. A similar bill was vetoed last year.
  • SB63 Vetoed because it is unclear where an absentee ballot may be returned if hand delivered. It impedes access to voting, which is too important.
  • SB118 Vetoed because the current law as it stands strikes the perfect balance between public safety and ensuring the Second Amendment is upheld and allowing concealed carry without a permit would not be in the interest of public safety.
  • SB145 Vetoed because the bill falls short of fulfilling the purpose of providing a dedicated funding stream to enhance access to drug and specialty courts.
  • SB156 Vetoed because it unfairly targets children who are going through unique challenges and offers solutions to an issue that does not exist in Louisiana.
  • SB203 Vetoed because it creates a broad future exception to the ethics code for members of the Capital Area Groundwater commission.
  • SB220 Vetoed because this bill possesses separation of powers issues and adds an additional layer of bureaucracy to the elections process.
  • SB224 Vetoed because it would make the application to vote absentee by mail more stringent than what is currently required to actually vote absentee by mail.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.