© 2022
1078x200-header-mic.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Vermont Governor Phil Scott offers compromise to legislators calling for new mask mandates

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley
/
The Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier

At his weekly briefing Tuesday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott addressed legislative leaders’ calls for stricter mask mandates and queries about whether he will run for the Senate seat that will open when longtime U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy retires.

At his weekly briefing Tuesday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott addressed legislative leaders’ calls for stricter mask mandates and queries about whether he will run for the Senate seat that will open when longtime U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy retires.

The Speaker of the Vermont House and the Pro Tem of the state Senate, both Democrats, are calling on the state’s Republican governor to reinstitute mask mandates in the wake of rising COVID cases across the state.

But Governor Phil Scott says to do so would require re-implementation of a state of emergency that is unwarranted and unnecessary. He said he has instead offered a compromise to the legislative leaders.

"My offer is to call them back for a special session for the sole purpose of passing a law that would give municipalities the authority to implement mask mandates in their communities. I’ve asked for this authority to end April 30th and then municipalities have to revote on it every 30 days just like we did with the state of emergency," says Scott. "This was something the Vermont League of Cities and Towns asked for last week and I see it as a compromise between my position and the legislative leadership’s position. I’ve been clear with them that this is as far as I’m willing to go and I will veto anything else because I do not think mask mandates will move us towards our goals.”

Despite rising COVID cases, Governor Scott is adamant that the state’s vaccination strategy is the correct course of action. He believes that if the legislature passes his compromise it will lead to no significant difference in COVID cases.

“Sometimes the very people you’re trying to help are going to be resistant to having another mandate. Our strategy is to get more people vaccinated. We’re trying to educate people. There’s a social science to this and sometimes forcing people or potentially trying to force people into doing something they don’t want to do just hardens them and they’re going to resist," explains Scott. "So I’m not convinced that we’re going to see a substantial change as a result of this. Forcing them I’m not sure is going to work at this point in time.”

Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, announced on Monday that he will retire at the end of his term next year. Scott has said he will not run for the open seat. He was asked how he justifies his decision when he has called for more moderate Republicans to run for Congress.

“I think there needs to be more moderates, more centrists in Washington. I just choose not to be one of them. It’s something that it takes a different maybe style, maybe a different approach than I’m willing to contend with," asserts Governor Scott. "I mean it’s an uphill battle and a moderate centrist in Washington is amongst the minority unfortunately. And you know I’ve served my entire political life in the minority and I’m not sure that I want to jump into that quagmire, so to speak.”

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, a Democrat at-large, said Tuesday afternoon he will decide whether to run for the Senate seat “in the coming days." Welch, who is 74, has been in Congress since 2007 and is a former state Senate Pro Tem.

Related Content