diverge

House, Senate diverge on curbing Louisiana governor’s power

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana House Republicans on Thursday started advancing multiple approaches to intervene in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ coronavirus decision-making, as disagreements emerge with the Senate on the best method of attack.

The House and Senate, in their first week of a monthlong special session, disagree over how far lawmakers should go and what’s within the limits of their constitutional authority.

Negotiations continue behind the scenes as lawmakers in the majority-Republican Legislature try to determine what can win support from both chambers — and what could get enough votes to either override Edwards’ veto or avoid the Democratic governor’s desk entirely.

The House and Governmental Affairs Committee backed bills that would require lawmakers to determine whether a governor can renew an emergency or disaster declaration after 30 days. The panel also approved a more immediate measure sponsored by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder that would jettison Edwards’ coronavirus orders for a month after the special session ends.

“It allows us to take a deep breath and see what direction we need to go in,” said Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican.

The committee also advanced a proposal by Republican Senate President Page Cortez that received unanimous Senate support a day earlier, though some House Republicans suggested the measure does very little to address their complaints.

Cortez’s bill would require a governor to give legislative leaders advance notice and explanation when extending an emergency order — but doesn’t give lawmakers new avenues to revoke or stall the orders.

The proposals move to the full House for debate, with little clarity on what approach is gaining traction. Democrats oppose anything that would substantially chip away at Edwards’ authority.

“The governor has been well within his rights in declaring steps that we as a state need to take to protect one another,” said