Legislators drop 37 bills on Scott’s desk, bracing for vetoes

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By , VTDigger.org

Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott. File photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

With dozens of bills arriving in Gov. Phil Scott’s office on Thursday, the push for him to sign them is officially underway.

Legislative leaders are hoping the governor will reconsider his veto threats, drop his pertinacious stance on no new taxes and fees, and sign into law a number of progressive laws passed by the House and Senate, often with overwhelming support.

Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, issued a joint statement on the delivery and messaging of 37 bill to Scott on Wednesday.

“”I’m proud of the bipartisan work Senators did this session,” Ashe said in the statement. “The public asked for this forward-thinking legislation and the House and Senate delivered. We look forward to the Governor signing these bills into law.”

The governor could not have been clearer in recent weeks about his intention to veto at least a few of the bills, including new laws on paid family leave, raising the minimum wage and regulating companies that deal in people’s data.

“The House worked incredibly hard to put forward tri-partisan legislation that creates a strong, healthy future for our state,” Johnson said in the statement.

Tim Ashe, Mitzi Johnson
Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, left. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, right.

Paid family leave and minimum wage received almost no support from Republicans in the House, unlike the budget, key tax legislation and a number of other bills, which did receive tripartisan support and now head to a governor who has pledged to block them.

Other bills that could be met with a veto include:

• S.40 – raises the minimum hourly wage from $10.50 to $15 by 2024
• S.105 – protects consumers from abusive contracts
• S.197– Requires polluters to pay for medical monitoring
• S.260 – calls for urgent action on lakes “in crisis”
• S.289 – requires companies that contract with the government to follow net neutrality standards
• H.196 – creates a new payroll tax to fund paid family leave for employees
• H.410 – establishes new standards in energy planning
• H.764 – regulates companies that trade in user data

Advocates also began their final push for these bills during a press event on Wednesday morning.

The groups in attendance, all of whom lobbied for one or more of the bills during the session, were Main Street Alliance, VPIRG, Vermont Interfaith Action, Vermont NESA, Justice For All, Toxics Action Center, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Sierra Club and Voices for Vermont’s Children.

They said Scott’s hard line against no new taxes and fees was preventing the government from making life better for working Vermonters.

“In recent weeks, the governor has threatened to veto bills that we believe will go a long way toward making Vermont a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters, said at the event.

“He has a choice: help the Vermonters who rely on him for policies that will improve their everyday lives, or go out of his way to protect corporate interests,” Hierl said.

On many of the bills, Scott has said that Vermonters simply can’t afford a bigger government and that initiatives meant to make life better for residents will end up hurting businesses, cutting jobs and making things worse.

Scott has been regularly sending out variations on the same message since his State of the State address in January.

“If we demonstrate the fiscal discipline to hold the line on taxes and fees, and keep budgets in line with economic growth, we will put our state on solid footing so we can invest in programs we value and leave Vermont better prepared for the next time the national or global economy takes a turn for the worse,” he said at the time.

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