State Government

As Stamford defies State of Emergency, Guv claims “solid ground”

By Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott said today at a press conference he and his legal team “feel we are on very solid ground constitutionally” after the Town of Stamford voted Tuesday night to defy the governor’s emergency pandemic orders.

Stamford Selectboard member Dan Potvin confirmed Wednesday the board voted 3-2 on the following 12/29 agenda item:  “Termination of Governor’s Emergency Order pursuant to V.S.A. Title 20 section 13(3) and implementation of local recommendations for safety and protection.”

At issue is a state law that seems to say that municipalities may overrule a governor’s executive order. According to St. Johnsbury attorney Deb Bucknam, “Vermont Statute Section 13(3) of Title 20 provides that the governor “shall” declare the state of emergency terminated in a municipality when the ‘majority of the legislative body of a municipality affected no longer desires that the state of emergency continue within its jurisdiction.’”

That doesn’t mean what you think it means, Scott administration legal counsel Jaye Pershing Johnson in effect replied. In an opinion given to Vermont Daily Dec. 9 by Scott press secretary Rebecca Kelley, Johnson said other state laws “clearly prohibit actions inconsistent with the Governor’s general direction and control of the emergency.” In particular she cites: 

“20 V.S.A. § 16. Orders, rules and regulations – The towns and cities of the state and other agencies designated or appointed by the governor are authorized and empowered to make, amend and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for emergency management purposes and to supplement the carrying out of the provisions of this chapter, but not inconsistent with any orders, rules or regulations promulgated by the governor or by any state agency exercising a power delegated to it by him or her. (Amended 1989, No. 252 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)”

In other words – the state’s emergency authority trumps municipalities’, Persing claims. 

Not so, Bucknam responded via email with several legal arguments, including:

  • The 13(3) statute is unambiguous and must be allowed to take effect;
  • Use of the words “must” and “shall” make the actions mandatory;
  • Laws must not be construed in such a way as to make them ineffective. 

Today, Scott seemed confident his lawyer has the better case. “I heard the Attorney General has weighed in and sent a letter to the town. Our general counsel feels we have nothing to be concerned about,” he said. “Just declaring it (the state of emergency) over doesn’t make it so. We still have an emergency on our hands.”

Minutes of the 12/29 meeting were not available at presstime. 

9 replies »

  1. To bad the governor cares more about his power and his beliefs than those of the Vermonters who have expressed their beliefs that are different than his. He continues to prove he is a dictatorial fool. CBD/vitamin D and NAC to control the virus even though the governor and the health department and the mayor ignore the simple truth. No lock down no masks only knowledge and health. drbob

    • Kevin Hoyt, John Klar, Jim Sexton, Emily Peyton—all would be better than what we have now. Scott has to go. We cannot wait until the next election in two years.

  2. The Issue is that the Governor has abused his authority. In the Constitution, which he cites as a premise for his authority to kill 88 thousand jobs on the basis of a virus that most will experience as a mild flu, there is no authority named for his right to call an emergency, and in fact in section 20, it states that the Governor may make an embargo, but not lasting longer than 30 days when the legislature is not in session. Essentially, a lot of what he has done is an embargo, and further he cites VSA 20 section 8 and 11, in both f these sections, which describe his authority in an emergency, it also states that whatever he does in response to an emergency, he cannot contraindicate the constitution. Now what he has done is an abuse of power, because the Governor does not have the authority to make laws, and what he has done is make law, by creating fines for businesses that are caught either open or allowing unmasked people, he has created law. That is the legislatures job. Further, there is no emergency. And the emergency measures he has implemented has created a larger emergency of its own. If you have harms from the lockdowns, and wish to join a federal lawsuit claiming the lack of science and an abuse of power, harms you may reach a group of plaintiffs who have filed by contacting Guy Page, and asking him to forward your info to us. If we do not stand up for our constitution now, we will become the US of China in short order. After January 3rd we will upload the suit to Thank you Stamford.

  3. If Vermont was a “home rule” state, our cities and towns could govern themselves as they see fit, as long as they adhere to the Vermont and U.S. Constitutions and to Federal law ( There are 29 home rule states, including Massachusetts and New York. Other than our little in-person town meetings, which may not happen this year (, Vermont has no local self-governance. How did it happen that Vermont’s communities gave up so much of their sovereignty?

  4. Of course the achilles heal to the Governor’s position is, there is NO STATE OF EMERGENCY, and there never was! What sensible person could claim a state of emergency in which the total death toll from COVID in Vermont is but 136 people for the entire “crisis”– and where most of those deaths happened to the elderly who had diminished immune systems and comorbidities? There is no crisis– there is no state of emergency! What Governor in his right mind would claim the existence of a state of emergency in which the total COVID death rate in Vermont comes out to a whopping 0.02%(!), or less than 22 deaths per 100,000 people? This argument by the Governor and his minions has no standing in rigorous epidemiological science. The courts will bear this out.

    The REAL EMERGENCY is what is happening AS A RESULT OF THE LOCKDOWN– the lost jobs, the closed businesses, ruined livelihoods, ruined lives; increased stress experienced by real people across the board resulting in tragic consequences– i.e. depression, exploding drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and other stress related maladies. Could there be criminal accountability for the Governor for his actions?

    The Governor is following orders directed by a diabolical elite that can only hope the general public does not “wake up” soon enough to REJECT the experimental and highly contentious mRNA vaxxxine, which DOES NOT NECESSARILY PREVENT COVID TRANSMISSION, according the the vaxxxine manufacturers, but could act as a vector for mass sterilization. Why would anybody take this vaxxxine when serious adverse reactions have already surfaced in significant numbers, and long term effects have yet to be determined? Why would anyone volunteer to be a guinea pig, when the survivability rate for COVID is 99.98%?

    The triple-x (xxx) used in “vaxxxine” is subjective license by this poster to denote the obscenity of this dangerous modality.

  5. There is not now, nor ever was a state of emergency. Governor Scott may have had justification for imposing some short-term restrictions last March, but we are now going on ten months with no sign of a reprieve. His ongoing mandates are nothing more than an unconstitutional power grab, not supported by any science, and causing more harm with each passing day.

  6. It’s all in the plan to remove you from your home and off of your land. Put you in debt and then spike your property taxes. Once you are gone someone with deeper pockets can move in and do as they like with your former home. Tear it down as of it never existed or what ever they desire. After all they are not making any more of it so why not recycle what is here. Rub out any sign of your existence and was wha la, you have a fresh canvas to work with. Playground for the rich and famous anyone?

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