By Guy Page
Memo to the Vermont Legislature from Gov. Phil Scott regarding the Global Warming Solutions Act veto override: This ain’t over.
On Thursday the House overrode the governor’s veto 103-47. Every Republican voted no, but the GOP loss of seats in the 2018 election showed its hand when the united GOP caucus and a few stray independents and Democrats couldn’t find the 51 votes necessary to support Scott’s veto. The Senate is expected to follow suit next week. At Friday’s press conference, Cambridge native and News 5 reporter David Schneider asked Gov. Scott, “Is there room to fight this bill even if the Senate votes to override?” GWSA gives carbon-reduction decision-making to an unelected, appointed 22-member Climate Council. That will likely mean a constitutional challenge from “someone,” Scott said.
The Vermont Constitution prevents the legislative, executive and judicial branches from encroaching on each other’s powers. The Legislature can abdicate its own responsibilities, but not the governor’s, Scott said. “I feel the Legislature just wiped their hands of that because they won’t want to make the tough decisions over the next four years.”
Scott shared the thinking behind his veto decision in a Sept. 18 YouTube video:
“My biggest concern is that it’s unconstitutional. And in a big way the bill puts an unelected unaccountable council in charge of policy making, which means Vermonters will no longer have a say in the process and the council will be able to put their policy recommendations directly into law.
“Think about that – there would be 23 members, one third appointed by the governor and the other two thirds appointed by the legislature, and they would have the power to make laws. The Legislature, the elected representatives of the people, would not have to vote on it. The governor – not just me, any future governor – the person elected by Vermonters to provide executive oversight and administration, would not get to review it or decide whether to sign it or veto it.
“This is just bad policy that could lead to bad outcomes on this issue, and many others. It will most certainly lead to lawsuits.”
By contrast, Scott praised lawmakers for working with him on S.54, commercial cannabis. Asked by Erin Petenko of VTDigger if he would sign the bill, he credited the Legislature for addressing some of his concerns — unlike its lack of cooperation on H.688. For example, “any suggestion by the marijuana panel must come back to the Legislature. … That’s the way to do things. They’ve come a long ways. I’ll be considering that when I review the bill.”
Scott added he’s heard an “uptick” in concern from “some groups I hadn’t heard from before.” Farm and racial justice groups seek a veto because, they say, it favors large commercial grows owned by out-of-state, mostly white-owned businesses.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.