Louisiana Senate Resuscitates Stop Harming Our Kids Act
Updated: 06/06/2023 08:34 AM EDT
The Louisiana Senate on Friday resuscitated the Stop Harming Our Kids Act (HB 648), after the Senate Health and Welfare Committee killed it in a Wednesday vote. After another committee gave the bill a green light, the entire Senate approved the bill 29-10 on Monday. Buoyed by constituent support, the bill now faces a final dash to the finish before the state legislature adjourns sine die on Thursday of this week.
Advocates for protecting minors from harmful gender transition procedures were “extremely disappointed” last week, Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills told The Washington Stand, when Senator Fred Mills (R), chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, sided with Democrats in a 5-4 vote to bury the bill after heavy lobbying from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D).
The apparent act of “legicide” created a “huge uproar, both within Louisiana and nationally,” Mills said in a comment to TWS, with hundreds of constituents contacting their representatives to express their support for the bill.
In response, the Senate voted 26-12 to discharge the bill from the Health and Welfare Committee and reassign it to the Judiciary A Committee — employing a rarely-used maneuver found in the Senate rules. The Judiciary Committee “very quickly came to a decision on the bill and passed it on to the Senate floor for a vote,” said Mills. Judiciary Committee Chairman Barrow Peacock (R) said members had received over 1,000 emails supportive of HB 648 in less than 24 hours while it was assigned to the new committee.
“What we’ve seen happen is that the entire Senate body has responded to the calls that people have made,” summarized Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” “The committee has … basically been stripped of jurisdiction on this. And it’s gone to another committee.”
“Both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President have assisted us in getting the bill this far,” Mills told Perkins. “And we feel optimistic that we have the vote on the floor.”
“It only comes down to [whether] it remains a top priority,” said Mills. In the last 72 hours of the Louisiana legislative session, it requires a supermajority for either chamber to vote on final passage of legislation (concurring in amendments is treated separately). So, Mills said, the Senate must pass the bill on Monday “so we don’t run afoul of the end-game procedures that have a tendency to run out the clock.” The Senate voted to pass the bill at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Monday.
Thus far, the only Senate amendment to HB 648 changed the effective date of the bill from July 1, 2023 to January 1, 2024. Mills said the bill “may have to go through concurrence [in the House] just for technical purposes, but this [Senate vote] is the final journey.”
The bill would face a likely veto from Governor Edwards. Overriding the veto would require two-thirds of both chambers (70 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate). The bill passed the House 71-24 and the Senate 29-10. Republican Senator Fred Mills voted against it, but Democratic Senator Katrina Jackson voted for it, with one Republican not voting.
Mills expressed gratitude to “pro-family friends in the Louisiana legislature, especially Sen. Katrina Jackson, the lone Democrat who voted for recommittal, and to national partners.” He told Perkins, “We’re thanking members for a favorable vote and respectfully asking the Senate president to give it priority Monday morning.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.