How Does a Veto Override Session Work?
It’s official. As of midnight on Thursday, July 15, 2021, the Louisiana legislature is heading into its first-ever veto session. Legislators will meet to consider the 28 bills passed this session that were subsequently vetoed by the governor. Among the bills vetoed are a fiscal transparency requirement for school boards, a bill that would allow for “constitutional carry” of handguns, and a bill that would include the legislature in declaring a state of emergency. All vetoed bills were authored by Republican lawmakers.
Veto sessions are discussed in Art. III, §18 (C) of the Louisiana constitution. It provides, in pertinent part:
(1) A bill vetoed and returned and subsequently approved by two-thirds of the elected members of each house shall become law. 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…No veto session shall exceed five calendar days, and any veto session may be finally adjourned prior to the end of the fifth day upon a vote of two-thirds of the elected members of each house.
(2) No veto session shall be held if a majority of the elected members of either house declare in writing that a veto session is unnecessary. The declaration must be received by the presiding officer of the respective houses at least five days prior to the day on which the veto session is to convene.
In other words, a veto session automatically occurs 40 days after sine die unless a majority of members of either house return their ballots to opt out of the session five days prior to the day on which the veto session will convene.
The legislature has opted out of a veto session in every year since the Constitution of 1974 was ratified. In fact, the legislature has only twice successfully overridden a gubernatorial veto, but during a regular session. According to The Times-Picayune, there are no records of veto overrides between 1812, when the state entered the Union, and 1991. In 1991, Gov. Buddy Roemer’s veto of a bill that placed restrictions on abortion was rejected by two-thirds of the legislature. Two years later, in 1993, lawmakers chose to override Gov. Edwin Edwards’ veto of a bill providing funding for the state Attorney General.
The legislature will convene for its override session at noon on Tuesday, July 20.