What is a Veto Session?

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Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the possibility of a veto session for the Louisiana Legislature. This is pretty big news since it would be the first veto session in modern history.  Louisiana has only had one other veto session under the modern constitution, adopted in 1974, and only two veto sessions in recorded history.

What Does this Mean?

After each legislative session, the Governor decides whether to sign or veto bills that have passed through the legislature. If he or she decides to veto legislation after the legislative session has ended, then the members of the House and Senate have the option to call a veto session in order to attempt to override the Governor’s veto.
 
Overriding a veto requires support from two-thirds of both the House and Senate – that’s means at least 70 Representatives and 26 Senators must vote to override the veto. However, only a simple majority is required to call for a veto session. Generally, a veto session will be called unless a majority of Senators or a majority of Representatives oppose it.

What’s the Timeline?

July 3rd: Deadline for Governor’s Vetoes
The Governor has until July 3rd (which is the 23rd calendar day following the adjournment of the session) to finalize his vetoes and send notification to the legislature. 
 
Then, the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House have two days to transmit the letters from the Governor to all the members of the legislature. This packet will include a form for each member to complete if they do not want a veto session. (If they do want to conduct a veto session, legislators needent do anything.) No veto session shall be held if a majority of the elected members of either house (53 Representatives or 20 Senators) declares in writing that a veto session is unnecessary. Traditionally, a majority has completed this form indicating that they do not want to call for a veto session. 
 
This year, there is increasing speculation that a majority of legislators will call for a veto session.
 
July 15th: Deadline for Veto Vote
The forms that the legislators must fill out if they do not want to call for a veto session must be returned before midnight on July 15th (which is the thirty-fifth calendar day following adjornment). 
 
July 20th – July 24th: Veto Session
If they do call for a veto session, it will begin at noon on July 20th (which is the 40th day following adjournment of the session). The veto session will last for no more than five calendar days, and therefore must adjourn on or before July 24th. 

What’s at Stake?

Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires the support of two-thirds of both the House (70) and the Senate (26). While the Governor has vetoed 28 bills, but there are three at the center of the anticipated veto session:
  • SB 118 passed the Senate 27-9 and the House 73-29. It would allow those 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
  • SB 156 passed 29-6 in the Senate and 78-17 in the House. This measure would prevent transgender females from competing against cisgender female in athletic events.
  • HB 514 passed 37-0 in the Senate and in the House 88-13. This Constitutional Amendment would gradually boost state aid for roads and bridges by $300 million per year, potentially putting the state in a precarious fiscal position in years to come. If the Act is not vetoed, it will be on the ballot statewide in October of this year.

While these three bills are expected to be at the center of any veto session this year, legislators could override any of the vetoed bills. To see a full list of bills the Governor vetoed this year, click here.

Update: July 21, 2021

This afternoon the 2021 Veto Session ended, ajourning sine die early. In the two days of the veto session, legislators failed to override any of the Governor's vetoes. You can read more about the unprecedented veto session in The Advocate here