Louisiana Senate supports veto waiver on ban on transgender sports

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana state senators narrowly voted Tuesday to topple the Democratic government. John Bel Edwards’ rejection of a bill prohibiting transgender students from participating in school sports, on the opening day of the first veto session under the state’s nearly 50-year-old constitution .

But senators blocked efforts to override a separate measure that would remove the licensing requirements, background checks and security training needed to have a concealed handgun in Louisiana, as a handful of Republicans have switched to opinion on legislation. It would be difficult for the Senate to override any further Edwards veto after a GOP Senator Pat Connick of Jefferson Parish said he would not support any additional waivers, giving Senators too few Republican votes alone.

Senators voted 26-12 for the transgender sports ban veto waiver – the exact number of votes needed. The vote fell party-favored, with Republicans in favor of the measure and Democrats in opposition. The debate now moves to the House, where Republicans will need to enlist the support of Democrats and Independents to overturn the veto and enact the ban into law.

Supporters have described the ban sponsored by Franklinton Senator Beth Mizell, the second Republican in the Senate, as protecting girls in K-12 schools and colleges from unfair competition. They said trans athletes have an automatic and built-in advantage in competing against other women.

“Without protection, women’s sport would not exist. Nothing has changed, ”Mizell said. She added, “I ask you to do what is right for the girls in Louisiana and put politics aside about it.”

The legislation is similar to bans passed by Republican-led legislatures in several states.

Opponents, including Edwards, called the measure discriminatory. They note that donors could not cite a single example of a Louisiana-specific problem. And they said the Louisiana High School Athletic Association had already enacted the equivalent of a ban on transgender athletes from participating in high school athletic teams.

“I am convinced that this bill is a solution in search of a problem,” Senator Jay Luneau told the Democrat of Alexandria.

New Orleans Democratic Senator Karen Carter Peterson said passing the law would threaten Louisiana’s ability to attract business and sporting events, a point made by business organization leaders in Baton Rouge and of New Orleans. Peterson said 400 major companies have publicly declared their opposition to discrimination against transgender people.

“Do you think these companies will feel comfortable in Louisiana, let alone hold their conventions in Louisiana, if we let this bill become law? Do you think? She said. She added, ‘You can’t have it both ways. Either you want the companies to come to Louisiana or you can discriminate. “

But Senator Mike Fesi, a Republican from Houma, told his colleagues they should think about their “daughters and granddaughters” and their “good and decent morals”.

“If we don’t fix this problem, women will never win in sport in the future,” Fesi said.

The ban on transgender sports was the driving force behind the decision of the Republican majority and the Senate to return to the Louisiana Capitol. But they could also consider other measures Edwards rejected, such as removing specific projects from budget bills or legislation to ban coronavirus vaccine warrants, regular election audits, and demands according to which local school systems publish their finances in the Louisiana Checkbook. online site.

In total, Edwards dropped 28 bills in the regular session that ended in June. The veto session can last up to five days, but legislative leaders have said they hope to end well before Saturday.

As the session opened in the house, a handful of opponents of the transgender sports ban briefly attempted to protest on the balcony, before being forcibly evicted from the room.

The Louisiana Constitution promulgated in 1974 requires that a veto session be automatically scheduled when a governor abandons the legislation. But a majority vote in the House or Senate can cancel the rally. Lawmakers had a tradition of overturning every veto session since then, regardless of the makeup of the governor’s office or legislative chambers – until now.

Republican lawmakers in a quasi-bloc decided to hold the veto session, in a continuing escalation of disagreements with Edwards and continued pressure to assert their constitutional independence.

While convening the session only required majority support, Republicans will need the votes of Democrats or Independents to reach the two-thirds required to override a gubernatorial veto. And they are under pressure from outside groups on both sides of the debate.

Lawmakers have overruled only two vetoes under the current constitution, both in ordinary sessions.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.

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