Knee healing while speculating on the veto session

When the speaker of the House gaveled out at the end of the regular session, she didn’t gavel us out forever — we made plans to be back in the State House on June 17 with the assumption that Governor Phil Scott would veto some bills and that the legislature would come back to potentially override those vetoes. 

Veto he did, so back we go next week. Governor Scott has vetoed more bills than any other governor in Vermont’s history. I admire his dedication to shooting down the General Assembly’s ideas without coming up with any of his own — although he did come up with one cockamamie education financing idea earlier in the spring that experts, including his own administration, acknowledged wasn’t a well-thought-out or reasonable plan. (If you remember, it was basically borrowing money from ourselves to pay back later, which doesn’t really make sense in the least.)

So, here’s what we’re going to vote on next week in the hopes that we have enough votes to override his vetoes. We need two-thirds of the Legislature’s vote in order to do so. I know some people get annoyed by the Democrat supermajority, but I do want to point out a couple things that are interesting and should make you feel a little better about the supermajority’s ability to override a veto from the governor. 

First, the supermajority is elected by Vermonters. Democrats didn’t get together and decide to take over the Legislature; each representative and each senator has the same number of constituents, and the people of Vermont vote for those people on the same days. Who knows what will happen this time around, but last election, voters overwhelmingly chose Democrats, which is why there’s a supermajority.

Second, within each party there are people with really different points of view. There are Democrats who are pretty conservative, and there are Republicans who are pretty liberal, and there are people who fall all along that line in between. We all represent different communities that have different needs, so my votes that reflect the will of Charlotte and Hinesburg voters can be very different from the votes of a Democrat from another part of the state. For this reason, a veto override on any given bill isn’t a sure thing. We left two bills off the table last year during the veto session because we didn’t have the votes, and I’m sure there will be some this year that don’t make it all the way.

Before I go through the list of bills we’re voting on next week, or at least the ones I know about by Monday evening, I’m excited to share that two bills I worked on a lot this session — H626, the animal welfare bill, of which I was the lead sponsor, and H875, the government ethics bill, that I did a lot of work on with my committee — were both signed into law today. Well, the governor didn’t sign the ethics bill, but he let it slide through without his signature. Who would have thought: a politician that doesn’t like an ethics bill? I’m proud of the work we did and grateful to some of my Charlotte constituents who showed up to testify on both of these bills.

So far, the governor vetoed the following bills: 

  • The big one is H887, also known as the yield bill, also known as the bill that’s raising everyone’s taxes to pay for education. Before a bill comes to the floor of the two chambers for votes, it’s already been debated and discussed. Often, during the process of making sure they have enough votes to clear the House or Senate, legislators who craft bills will realize that they don’t have enough votes and then will make adjustments to reach a compromise. There are also amendments offered on the floor, which we vote on. A bill doesn’t just plop down out of nowhere and get voted through without a lot of compromise and discussion — the more controversial bills even more so. 
  • The yield bill found a way to pay for all the school budgets (which are decided locally, not by the legislature) in the state. It offers funds for people who receive income credits on their property tax bills, includes funding to lower everyone’s property tax bill by buying down some of that cost, and importantly, sets up a commission that will work on coming up with a new way to pay for public education, which we obviously really need. 
  • We will also vote, if there’s support, to override H706, which will phase out and prohibit neonicotinoid pesticides; H289, the Renewable Energy Standard bill; H72, which establishes pilot programs for two Overdose Prevention Sites; and H645, which expands restorative justice programs around the state.

Let me know what you think — I had a knee replacement a couple weeks ago, so I’m literally sitting around. Call or text or email: 917-887-8231 or email.