By Guy Page
At his press conference Friday, Gov. Phil Scott indicated he will veto H.688, the Global Warming Solutions Act. When asked by WPTZ’s Stewart Ledbetter if he plans to veto the carbon reductions mandate bill approved 102-45 on Wednesday, he said, “I don’t see any solutions. All I see is mandates,” and an unelected board of 23 who will devise and implement a carbon emissions reduction strategy.
“I don’t think it is good government,” Scott said. It remains to be seen if opponents of the bill can turn at least three of the 102 yes votes to a no. One hundred votes will override a veto.
Gov. Scott also said he believes Amtrak service will begin in the next 2-3 months. Public transportation is way down, about 50%, but there has been discussion recently about resuming Vermont’s passenger rail service, he said.
In a related story, House Transportation Committee Chair Curt McCormack (D-Burlington) told Vermont Daily recently his committee will push hard next year to developer a package of “incentives” to reduce single-car commuter traffic, a large source of Vermont’s carbon emissions. He acknowledged that public transportation ridership has been way down this year but that there has been an uptick in this summer.
The 2021 budget has a long way to go before becoming law, Gov. Scott cautioned a reporter asking about the House’s preliminary approval yesterday of a $7.15 billion package that includes about $220 million for higher education, and does not raise taxes or draw on state reserve funds. It does heavily leverage current federal Covid dollars, but in a manner acceptable to the federal government, Scott said. The bill needs to survive final reading of the House (likely given its overwhelming positive vote), and then must go through the Senate budget process. Any changes must be reconciled by both Houses before it comes to his desk for a signature, he said.
Asked to comment on a universal mailed ballot lawsuit filed by several prominent Republicans against Secretary of State Jim Condos, Gov. Scott said that while he believes mailed ballots are safe, “there are some elements of their lawsuit that are interesting” — especially third parties being allowed to collect ballots and bring them in, he said. “We’ll see how the lawsuit progresses. We’ll be watching.” He repeated that the Legislature had taken him out of the election decision-making process, and that the results are up to Secretary Condos.
Vermont Daily struck out on getting answers to both of our questions. Neither ACCD Secretary Lindsay Kurrle nor Gov. Scott could provide figures on how many “zombie” homes are unoccupied and in foreclosure, and thus are unavailable to potential renters and buyers in a state with the second lowest vacancy rate in the nation. However, Secretary Kurrle pledged to provide more information — look for it in Vermont Daily. Also look for information on which allegedly racist books are being pulled from school libraries by racial equity workers in Vermont schools, a practice reported in the Vermont media but with which Education Secretary Dan French said he was not acquainted.
No reporters asked about the anniversary of 9/11. After all of the reporters’ questions were over, he commented on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack and the unity America experienced in its aftermath. “We’d all be a little bit better off if we could get some of that spirit back,” he said.
Before signing off, Gov. Scott gave reporters this teaser: a “special guest” will be featured on next Tuesday’s program. More info to come by Monday night, he said.
Cambridge author writes memorial to slain African-American child Secoriea Turner
George Putnam, Cambridge selectman, lifelong Vermonter, and former Yankee Farm Credit exec, has written about the eight-year-old girl shot and killed by rioters at an Atlanta Wendy’s. Here’s an excerpt:
“All of the following people are black: Secoriea Turner, her parents, Rayshard Brooks, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rodney Bryant, George Floyd. Yet there are lessons here for all of us, of all races, even here in mostly white Vermont where we never heard of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks or Secoriea Turner until their tragic deaths made the news.”
The essay appears on Putnam’s blog, “The Switchel Philosopher.”
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.