Republicans Launch Mutiny Against House Speaker Schexnayder
Less than 24 hours after a Republican-led veto override effort ended in defeat, the head of the Louisiana Republican Party has begun an open rebellion against Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder.
As we previously reported, lawmakers failed to override Governor John Bel Edwards's vetoes of two bills. One would have allowed permitless concealed carry in Louisiana. The other would have banned transgender girls from participating in interscholastic sports. The concealed carry override failed in the Senate. The transgender athlete override failed in the House by a mere two votes after spirited debate on the House floor.
Only four members of the Acadiana delegation voted against the bill. Sen. Gerald Boudreaux (D-Lafayette) and Reps. Marcus Bryant (D-St. Martinville), Dustin Miller (D-Opelousas), and Vincent Pierre (D-Lafayette) voted to sustain the governor's veto. Six Democrats who initially voted in favor of the bill--Sens. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge) and Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) and Reps. Travis Johnson (D-Ferriday), Chad Brown (D-Plaquemine), Mack Cormier (D-Belle Chasse), and Pat Moore (D-Monroe)--switched their votes and supported the governor's veto.
In a statement, the six Democrats who changed their stances said they did so after reviewing the Louisiana High School Athletic Association's policy regarding transgender athletes. They said the proposed law would have undermined the LHSAA's rules.
"We recognize that this was fairness in women's sports, but we were not aware of an exception being made for transgender males," the group said in a statement posted to Jackson's Twitter page. "This exception usurps the total ban from the LHSAA, threatens the intentions of the underlying bill, and does not put all athletes on a level playing field."
One Republican voted along with the Democratic bloc to sustain the governor's veto. Rep. Joe Stagni (R-Kenner) voted "no" to the veto override.
Now, Louisiana GOP chairman Louis Gurvich is calling for "consequences" against those who voted against the veto override.
Gurvich is calling on Speaker Schexnayder to replace Democratic committee chairs with members of the Conservative Caucus. Failure to do so, Gurvich said, will lead to “a broader conversation about how the House of Representatives is run.” Gurvich also said the party will try to recall Stagni.
Gurvich also called on Republican voters to "hold accountable" the Republican senators who voted to sustain the governor's veto of the permitless concealed carry bill.
Gurvich's full statement is as follows:
“Louisiana Republicans are profoundly disappointed and deeply angered by the events that occurred in the Louisiana House of Representatives today. Louisiana Republicans insist that there must be consequences for the Democrats, Independents, and the one Republican who voted to sustain the Governor’s veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
I am calling on Speaker Clay Schexnayder to immediately replace all Democrat House Committee chairs with Republicans who are members of the Conservative Caucus. If this does not happen, then a broader conversation about how the House of Representatives is run will become necessary.
We would like to point out to the voters that 67 of 68 House Republicans voted for the override of the veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act today. The only Republican who voted against us is Representative Joe Stagni of Kenner, who is being targeted for recall. Additionally, 26 of 27 Senate Republicans successfully voted to override the Governor’s veto of the same bill. Only Senator Ronnie Johns failed to show up and vote.
While we are angry and plan to lead the charge to make sure this sort of thing never happens again, we want to express our deep appreciation to the great majority of Republican legislators who voted right 100% of the time.
Finally, we must address the fact that Senators Louie Bernard, Pat Connick, and Franklin Foil voted to sustain the Governor’s override of the Constitutional Carry bill, while Senator Ronnie Johns failed to show up and vote. We encourage the voters to hold them accountable as well.
Republican voters expect more.”
Louisiana Family Forum director Gene Mills is also calling for action against the lawmakers who voted against the transgender athlete ban. He says those representatives may face political consequences because of their vote.
"I'm very disappointed with the 68-30 outcome," Mills told the Louisiana Radio Network. "They're going to have some explaining to do back home."
Schexnayder did not respond to Gurvich's threats against him. In a statement, Schexnayder said he would reintroduce the transgender athlete ban bill again next year. While he says he's disappointed, Schexnayder said he's happy the legislature made history.
Schexnayder's full statement is as follows:
“The vote to override Governor Edwards’ veto of the Fairness in Women's Sports Act fell two votes short today. While I am frustrated by the result, I am encouraged by the fact that we did something that has never been done in this state in asserting our legislative independence. Veto sessions should be the norm from now on as Louisiana's constitution instructs. We have separate and equal branches of government for a reason. We will bring this bill back next year and will not stop fighting.”
While Schexnayder has yet to respond to Gurvich's statement, Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) did.
The Louisiana Democratic Party also issued its reaction to the end of the veto session. The party accused Republican lawmakers of "(ignoring) the concerns of law enforcement, business leaders, and the vast majority of Louisianans, putting politics before public safety, economic recovery, and Louisiana values."
"Louisiana Republicans have spent more time peddling wedge issues meant to divide our state than trying to overcome distrust in life-saving vaccines and bring this pandemic to a conclusion," Democratic Party Chair Katie Bernhardt said.
Republicans' failure to override Governor Edwards's veto could have a long-term effect on the balance of power at the Capitol. Political analyst Clancy DuBos says the failed session gives Governor Edwards more power--power he can use to his and his allies advantage during redistricting next year.
"When that happens, the governor will have a very strong role to play," DuBos told the Louisiana Radio Network. "This strengthens his hand in dealing with the legislature when dealing with major issues like redistricting, the budget, and other things. I don't think anyone should be surprised by whatever happens because we just don't have a point of reference. This is going to be the point of reference going forward for veto sessions. I think they need to choose a better issue to take a stand on--not one that simply appeals to their base, but one that appeals to a broader section of the community."