(The Center Square) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards could face the first veto override session in state history after recently rejecting two particular pieces of legislation.
Edwards, a Democrat, vetoed 28 bills from the most recent legislative session, but Republican lawmakers are targeting two for override votes: one dealing with transgender athletes and another regarding concealed handguns.
An override session is scheduled annually for the third week in July, but historically have been cancelled each year when a majority of members in the Senate and House – 20 and 53, respectively – vote not to hold it.
A veto override requires two-thirds support in each chamber, 26 votes in the Senate and 70 in the House. Only two vetoes ever have been overridden, but both occurred during regular session.
The transgender athlete ban, which would bar high school athletes from participating on sports teams that do not align with their gender assigned at birth, won overwhelming support in the state Legislature, passing 29-6 in the Senate and 78-17 in the House.
Supporters of the bill said they want to protect female athletes from unfair competition, but Edwards called it “a solution in search of a problem.”
“The fact of the matter is there is not a single incidence in the history of Louisiana of the type of conduct that the bill seeks to prohibit,” Edwards said.
Edwards also said if the bill were to become law, New Orleans could risk losing the NCAA Final Four, scheduled there for next March, as well as other events.
The NCAA pulled seven championship events out of North Carolina in 2016 after a bill was signed into law requiring people in schools and government buildings to use the restroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. The NBA also pulled its 2017 all-star game out of Charlotte. The bill later was repealed.
Edwards also vetoed a bill that would have allowed residents age 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit.
That measure passed the House, 73-29, and cleared the Senate, 27-9.
“The governor told everybody to go fly a kite and see you in the veto session,” House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee said.
Edwards did sign a third bill that many thought he might veto, one that would increase spending on roads and bridges by $300 million a year. The governor earlier expressed concern the measure could hamper the state’s general fund should there be a downturn in revenue.