Knee replacement to keep Johns from anticipated veto override session

Published 12:22 am Friday, July 16, 2021

John Guidroz

Republican state Sen. Ronnie Johns of Sulphur won’t be attending an historic veto override session that appears likely to take place at the state Capitol beginning next Tuesday. The deadline for lawmakers to send in ballots determining whether the session will be held was midnight Thursday and staffers will count them today.

Johns underwent a full knee replacement surgery July 7 and said he is under a doctor’s order to avoid travel for at least four weeks. He said he and his doctor agreed on the date for his surgery two months earlier, far ahead of any talks of a veto session.

The procedure went as expected, but complications that occurred days later, such as “excessive bleeding from the incision,” led Johns’ doctor to order no travel for several weeks, he said.

“I’m not going to jeopardize my health or the success of this surgery and go against my doctor’s orders,” the senator said Thursday.

Johns said the surgery had already been postponed because of COVID-19, Hurricanes Laura and Delta, the special session and the recent regular session. Another postponement “was never an option” he said because his advanced state of knee degeneration was impacting his hips and other joints, he said.

Since the surgery, Johns said he is undergoing daily rehabilitation and physical therapy. He said deciding not to take part in the veto session was one the hardest choices in his more than 20 years as a state lawmaker. Johns said Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate support his decision to bypass the veto session.

Johns added he is not returning his ballot that calls for the veto session to be canceled, which indicates his support for it.

The majority-Republican House and Senate are definitely eyeing two of the 28 bills vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, but others are expected to be considered. One says transgender athletes can only compete on school sports teams with the gender on their birth certificate. The other bill allows residents 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

A veto session will convene unless a majority of either the House or Senate sends back ballots to forego it. Louisiana hasn’t had a veto session since the most recent state constitution took effect in 1975.

Even if the veto override session happens, overriding any of Edward’s vetoes will be challenging because it requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate.

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State Sen. Ronnie Johns reads to students at University United Methodist Church in Lake Charles.

Rick Hickman