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State lawmakers react to bill that limits governor emergency powers

Posted at 10:24 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 23:30:50-04

A bill limiting the governor's emergency powers is sitting on Governor John Bel Edwards's desk. The question is - will he sign it or will he veto it?

The bill was approved after House and Senate Republican leaders reached a deal on their centerpiece issue for the special session.

Although the bill was passed Tuesday night, there's still a lot of unknowns. Republicans hope Gov. Edwards considers an exchange of power.

"No one contemplated being in a seven month pandemic when they drafted the original statutes."

Senate President Page Cortez says the current emergency declaration laws are outdated, which is why he says Republican lawmakers are working on these new measures.

"I will be meeting with him in the next few days to find out their thoughts on the bill. One of the things I'll say is the bill does give authority to the legislature to end a health emergency or fail to renew it if they find that the emergency or the governor is acting outside of his authority,” said Cortez.

During his monthly radio show Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards said he’s not sold on the bill.

"I'm not looking for an opportunity to invite those people into being a part of the decision making process. I will continue to make my decisions based on science and recommendations. I will share the data that I'm looking at with the legislator and everybody else as I always have,” said Edwards.

If the bill is vetoed by the governor, both houses would need a supermajority to override that veto.

"The house would then have to override first since it originated in the house. They would need to get 70 votes and if they were able to get the 70 votes then it would come to the Senate for the senate to override. We have 39 members, so we would need 26, which is two-thirds, of both houses to override the governor's veto,” explained Cortez.

"If this bill takes tools out of the toolbox that I believe are essential to properly manage a public health emergency, it's not going to meet with my approval,” Edwards added.

The session will resume on Wednesday and must adjourn by October 27th.

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