A veto override session this year would be “historic,” but it should not be so notable. Our state constitution mandates veto override sessions without any action by the Legislature. In fact, legislators must take affirmative steps to cancel the veto session each year by opting out. Historically, they have done so.
It is the Legislature’s duty to provide checks and balances on the executive branch.
The Louisiana Constitution spells part of this duty out in black and white. It says that "the Legislature shall meet in veto session in the state capital at noon on the
fortieth day following final adjournment of the most recent session, to consider all bills vetoed by the governor.”
Some argue that legislators should opt out of the upcoming veto session. After all, it’s tradition, and the constitution provides that there are no veto sessions when "a majority of the elected members of either house declare in writing that a veto session is unnecessary.” But how can a veto session be “unnecessary” when there
are several vetoed bills that passed both the House and Senate this year with significant, bipartisan support? And why should the Legislature give up its constitutional power “to consider all bills vetoed by the governor,” especially when these vetoed bills passed overwhelmingly?
The Legislature is a separate, coequal branch of government and should act accordingly. Holding veto override sessions to consider the actions of governors
should be the norm, not the other way around. Given that it is constitutionally limited to only five days, it is an effective and economical way to provide a check
on the executive branch, regardless of who is in office. It is a duty we should not take so lightly by summarily opting out of as a matter of course.
I consider this well worth the time, money and effort. I, for one, will not be opting out of this veto session and hope that the Legislature returns to Baton Rouge on July 20 to review the governor’s vetoes.
LAURIE G. SCHLEGEL