Jim Douglas: It’s ‘a real lack of respect to the voters’ to override vetoes without compromise

Michael Bielawski/TNR

TWO GOP GUVS: Former GOP governor Jim Douglas stands to the left the current Republican Gov. Phil Scott at an event in Barre.

Former Republican Governor Jim Douglas was a guest on the “Morning Drive” radio show last week and  took questions on issues such as transgender rights, the record amount of vetoes from the current governor’s office, and more.

Says gender-affirming care should be age appropriate

On the transgender issues, he generally supports that young adults — not children — should be the ones to make life-changing decisions such as taking hormone drugs or engaging in other procedures to change gender identities.

“If I were making the law, which I am not anymore, I would make that distinction and reserve that kind of decision for adults,” Douglas said.

Show host Kurt Wright put him on the spot and asked if the former governor would veto a bill that was to enact gender-related health decisions for youth.

“I hate to speculate. … I would say my first goal would be to fix it before it got to my desk — if it got to my desk — and then take it from there,” Douglas said.

Vetoes are not respected

Douglas also talked about his time in the legislature before he became the governor. He said as a Republican he supported vetoes by the governor on the principle that if any governor sees something wrong with a bill that is serious enough to justify a veto, then that meant that it was time to make a compromise.

“The view back then was if the governor feels so strongly about a bill that he exercises a rare veto, we should respect that and we should work with him to try and find a compromise,” Douglas said.

Wright, a former Republican city councilor in Burlington as well as a state legislator, pointed out that Vermont is in the unique position of having a popular Republican governor but a supermajority Democrat legislature. He suggested that’s all the more reason to have more compromise in public policy.

“You have a dichotomy of a governor who won a landslide re-election, something like 71%, and his opponent brought up a lot of these issues that the majority party, now the supermajority, have voiced it and pushed forward,” Wright said. “… You would think that there would be some kind of working to try and find that common ground that you used to talk about.”

While the governor enjoys his strongest public support yet, he also has less leverage in the Statehouse to support his agenda — there are no longer enough Republican lawmakers to support his vetoes. At least one-third of either the Senate or House chamber must stand with the governor to sustain his vetoes.

Wright suggested that Gov. Phil Scott is out of luck despite his popularity within the state.

A ‘lack of respect for the voters’

Douglas also noted that it’s “a real lack of respect to the voters” that the legislature continues to override these vetoes without compromise.

“As you said, he won every single town and city in the state,” Douglas said.

Wright suggested that the recent election outcomes in Vermont are evidence that the voters want more balance.

“There’s no question that was the message coming out of the election,” Wright said.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of TNR and Michael Bielawski/TNR