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VT Gov. Scott Questioned About Upcoming Veto Session During Weekly COVID Briefing

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Statehouse (file)

During the weekly COVID-19 briefing today, Vermont officials reported that the state continues to lead the nation in several metrics including the number of residents who have been vaccinated. But with a special session of the Legislature scheduled this week, most questions focused on the governor’s expectations of whether his vetoes will be sustained.

Governor Phil Scott vetoed three pieces of legislation. Lawmakers scheduled a veto session on Wednesday and Thursday. The Republican is not predicting whether his vetoes will be sustained. 

"I think it’s going to be very close, to be honest with you," he said. 

Community charter changes must be approved by the Vermont legislature. Winooski and Montpelier had approved measures that would allow noncitizen residents to vote in local elections. Scott vetoed both bills. 

“I’m not opposed to it philosophically," Scott said. "But I really believe that there should be we should take the time to create a template so that it’s all the same across the state so there isn’t this patchwork approach that we’re taking right now. So I’m not necessarily opposed to it. But I just think it just creates confusion and it creates inequity from one community to another.”

The governor also vetoed S.107, a bill related to the confidentiality of the arrest and charges against juveniles. In his veto message to legislators Scott said he had concerns about the bill raising the age of accountability for crimes and its expansion of protections for juveniles to young adults. 

“Again I think it’ll come down to one or two votes either way," the governor said. "And I’m hopeful that they will see the merits in our argument. We can take this up again in January and get it right. I have a lot of concerns with the bill overall from a transparency standpoint as well as you know raising the age and whether we have all the provisions in place to do that. I think Vermonters do in general. So I hope we have the to make sure that we sustain that veto.”

Vermont ‘s response to serving the homeless during the pandemic included providing hotel and motel rooms that were unused due to lack of tourists. But travel restrictions have been lifted and the hospitality industry is reverting to vacation bookings. Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said hotels and motels have been a valuable but impermanent resource and the state legislature has approved a new program effective July 1.

“The emergency housing program has never been and will never be the solution to solving homelessness," Smith said. "The solution is assisting Vermonters as much as possible to avoid becoming homeless as well as the creation of affordable, permanent and supportive services. Our state is now investing over $120 million to build this housing.”