Lawmakers override Guv’s veto on minimum wage bill

By Guy Page

February 25, 2020 – The latest round in the legislative battle between the Democrat-Progressive Legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott went to the lawmakers Tuesday noon, as the House overrode his veto of  S23, raising the minimum wage to $12.55 by January 1, 2022. 

The House vote was 100-49. The Senate had already voted to override.

Here’s how some possible “swing votes” cast their ballots. Charen Fegard (D-Enosburg) voted no. Paul Lefebvre (R-Barton) voted no. Kelly Pajala (I-Weston) voted yes. Laura Sibilia (I-Londonderry) – No. Linda Joy Sullivan (D-Dorset) – Yes. Theresa Wood (D-Waterbury) – Yes. Chris Bates (D-Bennington) – No. 

You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you can’t afford the boot,” Rep. Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury) said in support of the override.

“If the cost of something goes up, people will use less of it. Many businesses will….cut payroll,” Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) said in opposition. The proposed increases are “too much, too soon.”

So far this session, both the House leadership and the governor have each “won” one battle over banner, high-priority legislation. Earlier this week, the House approved H688, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), by a veto-overwhelming 105-37 tally. The bill now proceeds to the Senate, where support is strong in concept for a GWSA. H688 requires state government to meet aggressive carbon reduction goals and allows citizens (including environmental lawyers) the right to sue the State for non-compliance. 

A recent House change in H688 blunted somewhat the ability of a judge to provide and enforce specific direction about carbon reduction efforts, opponents of the bill say. 

On Feb. 5, the House failed to override Gov. Scott’s veto of H107, Paid Family Leave. The administration is moving forward with a voluntary paid family leave program. 

Still up in the air is S54, the commercial cannabis bill. It moved closer towards a vote on the House floor, following a narrow 6-5 vote of approval by the House Appropriations Committee Monday. The bill would levy a six percent sales tax and a 14 percent excise tax. 30% of the excise tax would go to substance abuse prevention, Appropriations decided. It also reduced the number of full-time cannabis control  board members from five to three. 

Photo Credit Vermont Dept. of Labor

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