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Vermont Democrats And Progressives Claim Veto-Proof Coalition

Vermont Statehouse 2018
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Statehouse

Democrats and Progressives in the Vermont Legislature made gains in last Tuesday's elections, and now have a veto-proof majority if both left-leaning parties work together.
When the Vermont legislature convenes in January, House Democrats will seat 95 members, Progressives seven, Republicans 43 and Independents five in the 150-member chamber.  In the Senate there will be 30 Democrats and six Republicans.  A two-thirds majority is required to override the governor’s veto – or 100 in the House and 20 in the Senate.  The Democrats traditionally work with Progressives and now claim a veto-proof majority.

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus Of Political Science Eric Davis:  “It’s going to depend on an issue by issue basis because one of the things about the 95 member Democratic caucus is it is a big tent. There are some people who are pretty far to the left, progressives in all but name. And there are other people who are moderates if not center right from some of the more rural areas of the state. So it’s not necessarily the case that all 102 Democrats and Progressives are going to vote in lock-step on every issue.”  

House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski says House Democrats will work with Progressives and other Independents for a veto-proof coalition.  “My take-away from this election cycle is that Vermonters are very concerned about what’s happening in Washington and Vermonters elected more Democrats to the House and to the Senate to ensure that we have a coalition in place to help protect Vermont. And also I think it’s calling on the Governor to meet us at the table. One of the challenges this last legislative session was that we really struggled to get the governor to join us day one for conversation.  I think the message is that we need to work together from day one to get things done to help Vermonters.”

During the 2018 session, Republican Governor Phil Scott issued 11 vetoes including rejecting a minimum wage and a paid family leave bill, saying the legislation would burden Vermont's small businesses.  Davis says in the upcoming session Governor Scott, who was easily reelected to a second term, must work more closely with the Democratic leadership.  “For the Governor what it means is that he needs to begin discussions, substantive discussions, with the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate much earlier in the session than he has in the past particularly on issues relating to school finance and the state budget.”

“The big question for me is what are those conversations going to entail?”  Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute, a conservative-leaning Vermont think tank.  “Is Scott now going to say ‘okay well I got re-elected in a fairly substantial landslide because I vetoed those bills last time so that’s my mandate is to continue vetoing those bills.’  Or is the Democrats/Progressives going to say hey we’ve got a supermajority that’s our mandate to pass these bills. Are they going to compromise?  Is Scott going to say ‘okay well let’s figure out someplace in the middle to make these bad bills less bad and I’ll then sign them.’ Or will Scott say I had a mandate to veto these bills. I’m going to continue to veto them and if you want to override my veto then so be it.”

The legislative session begins January 9th, 2019.