On February 5, 2020

Questions remain about possible vetoes

by Red. Jim Harrison

The headlines last weekend were the Governor’s veto of H.107, the paid family leave program. While the veto was expected due to the bill’s new $29 million tax on employees, legislative leadership is now busy trying to find the votes to override the veto.

While it may be possible to switch enough votes, leaders will need to think long and hard whether they want to go against the governor’s affordability agenda. Scott has preferred a voluntary leave plan, where those that want the benefit pay for it, as opposed to the mandated one that everyone pays for.

A vote could happen this week.

A second veto could be forthcoming on the minimum wage bill, S.23. The administration has been less clear on the governor’s intention with S.23, although he has expressed concern over the impact on rural areas of the state. Vermont’s current minimum wage is $10.96 and increases by CPI each January. It is currently the 11th highest in the nation. The legislation before the governor increases the minimum wage to $12.55 with a similar trajectory contained in last year’s bill to $15.

With vetoes grabbing the news, one may wonder if anything gets done. It is important to note that of the 86 bills passed by the Legislature last year, only two were vetoed by Scott.

Other items of interest last week:

The Burlington City Council has reversed course and withdrew a planned ballot question on allowing non-citizen residents to vote. Last year, a similar proposal was passed by voters in Montpelier, but would still need legislative approval. A Senate committee is now considering it.

Legislation to tax and regulate marijuana, S.54, is moving again. The legislation, approved last year by the Senate, was returned to the House Government Operations Committee and voted out with amendments on Friday, Jan. 31. Two key provisions added included a provision that cannabis operations did not supersede local zoning, as other agricultural products do and training on the health effects of marijuana are now required of all employees in retail licensees that sell to consumers. Local municipalities would still have to affirmatively vote to allow a retail operation in their town. The bill now moves back to the House Ways & Means Committee, which will develop the tax structure on cannabis.

A proposal, S.271, to offer free tuition to Vermont community colleges for families with under $100,000 in income appears to have slowed due to concerns over the bill’s annual price tag as well as the potential diverting of students from the other Vermont state colleges.

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee is likely to advance legislation that would ban all flavored tobacco and vape products. Will this eliminate menthol cigarettes?

The House Energy & Technology Committee has been working full time on H.688, an act relating to climate change or more commonly referred to as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The legislation would put into law Vermont’s carbon reduction goals and if they are not met would open the State to lawsuits.

Another key climate proposal, the Transportation Climate Initiative, a regional approach to adding fees to fuels containing carbon, may be losing steam. New Hampshire withdrew from the regional approach even before the final outline was presented. Reports also suggest that Governors in Connecticut and Maine are also backing away from their initial support and Governor Scott has expressed serious reservations to a possible carbon related tax.

The House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee continues to work through changes to the State’s Act 250 land use law. The committee has rejected a proposal put forth by the administration and a leading environmental group (VNRC) to eliminate the district commissions. Will deleting the regional commissions streamline the process or complicate matters?

Law enforcement officials were quick to express concern over a proposal to adopt new language from California on when the use of deadly force is justified at a joint committee hearing of House Judiciary and Government Operations. One may ask what the Legislature’s role is here, given the long history of case law on this subject?

The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are seeking public input on the Governor’s Recommended State Budget and will hold community based public hearings on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, at the following locations in our region.

Rutland Public Schools, Longfellow School Building, Board Room, 6-7 p.m.

Springfield Town Hall, 96 Main Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room (Selectmen’s Hall), 5:30-6:30 p.m.

For more information about these events, contact Theresa Utton Jerman or Rebecca Buck at tutton@leg.state.vt.us or rbuck@leg.state.vt.us, or call 802-828-5767.

You may reach Jim Harrison at JHarrison@leg.state.vt.us. Messages may also be left at the State House during the legislative session at 802-828-2228.

Jim Harrison is a state representative for Bridgewater, Killington, Chittenden and Mendon.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Back to the State House, June 17

June 5, 2024
The full Legislature will return to Montpelier on June 17 to take up any bills the governor has vetoed. Leaders will be deciding in the next few weeks which of those vetoed they will attempt to override, (two thirds required for an override), which will be rewritten to address some of Scott’s objections. The rest…

Former Democratic lawmaker John Rodgers to run for lieutenant governor as a Republican

May 29, 2024
By Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger John Rodgers, a former Vermont House and Senate Democrat from Glover, is running for lieutenant governor as a Republican.  “I don’t feel like I left the party. I feel like the party left me,” Rodgers said in an interview Friday, describing himself as a moderate. “I feel closer to Phil Scott than I…

Gov. Scott signs budget, vetoes renewable energy standard bill

May 29, 2024
On Thursday, May 23, Governor Phil Scott, as expected, signed the budget bill into law H.833, while vetoing H.289, An Act Relating to the Renewable Energy Standard.  Scott has long voiced his opposition to the renewable energy bill because of the cost and complexity in how the law could be carried out and the ultimate cost…

Gov. Scott vetoes bill that would’ve restricted bee-killing pesticide

May 22, 2024
Staff report On Monday, May 20, World Bee Day, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation meant to protect bees and other pollinators from a widely-used neuorotoxic pesticide. The bill (H.706) would  eliminate most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) in Vermont, which have been associated with alarming losses of managed and wild bee populations. Neonic insecticides are used on…