Friday, August 3, 2007

Lawmakers cancel 2007 veto override session

A special veto override session of the Louisiana Legislature has been cancelled.

Several interest groups led an effort to hold the session in hopes of winning overrides of vetos that Governor Kathleen Blanco issued against bills passed in the 2007 regular legislative session.

Among the bills the governor vetoed was House Bill 845, which would have granted enhanced retirement benefits to a small group of LASERS members. The LASERS Board of Trustees vigorously opposed HB 845 during the session, and appealed to the governor for a veto after it won approval from lawmakers. The trustees based their opposition primarily on the cost of providing unearned, unfunded retirement service credit to the bill's beneficiaries, approximately 450 Adult Probation and Parole officers employed by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

A veto override session is automatically scheduled each year, however lawmakers have traditionally voted to cancel it. A coalition led by chemical industry and business lobbyists appealed to legislators this year to allow the session to take place.

Marie Centanni, press secretary to the governor, tells The Daily Beam that 21 state senators voted to cancel the veto session. Cancelling the session required a minimum of 20 votes in the Senate or 53 votes in the House of Representatives. Forty-eight House members voted to cancel the session.

In announcing the cancellation, Governor Blanco said:

"I thank our legislators for keeping the needs of our citizens in mind and rejecting the push for this veto override session. I considered the implications of each bill that crossed my desk, and my decisions to veto were only made after carefully weighing the impact of these measures on our entire state. Rather than over committing state resources now, I think it is fair to allow the next legislature to make these decisions based on the performance of the economy. Keeping these vetoes in place preserves the historic investments we have made together for the sake of Louisiana's future."