Sunday, July 20, 2008

Veto Session Risky

Posted By on Sun, Jul 20, 2008 at 2:50 PM

?The knee-jerk reaction among lawmakers after Gov. Bobby Jindal’s line-item budget vetoes was to caucus (via phone) about a possible veto session.

Veto sessions are automatic under Louisiana’s constitution — unless a majority of either the House or Senate notifies their respective presiding officer, in writing, of a desire not to have one. In most years, that’s the automatic part; lawmakers are usually so tired of each other and the governor that the last thing they want to do is go back to Red Stick 40 days after all those sine die parties. Then again, most governors don’t line-item veto 258 budget items. There’s big political risk involved in a veto override session, however. For starters, there’s the ancient wisdom that says, “If you shoot at the king, don’t miss.” In this case, it’s one thing to get a majority of both houses to agree to a veto session; it’s quite another to get two-thirds of both houses to override a veto … let alone more than 250 vetoes. One idea percolating among senators last week was to pick two dozen or so vetoes and focus on overriding just them. That’s easy for a senator to say: you only need 26 votes in the 39-member Senate to override. In the 105-member House, you need 70 votes. The math gets out of hand pretty quickly. Another idea was to go back in and focus on just a few — maybe just one or two — vetoes to send a message to Jindal. Lawmakers have until July 28 to send in their written notices calling off the session. If a veto session is going to happen, it must begin on Saturday, Aug. 2 and end no later than Aug. 6. By a two-thirds vote of both houses, lawmakers can adjourn a veto session at any time. — Clancy DuBos

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