By Guy Page
At 3 pm today, I will be in the Winooski studios of Vermont Public, shooting moderator Stewart Ledbetter’s next-to-last episode of Vermont This Week, the Vermont Public week-in-review program the News 5 anchorman and news director and Vermont Broadcasters Hall of Fame member has hosted for almost 17 years.
Ledbetter announced this week that next week’s May 26 show will be his last as Vermont. His replacement has not been named. His work at News 5 will continue.
The show we film this afternoon will be aired at 7:30 pm tonight. With another session of the Vermont Legislature over, Ledbetter, Calvin Cutler and Katharine Huntley of WCAX, and I will focus on what happened and what’s next – i.e. a likely veto session in June after the governor announces his spending-related vetoes next week.
We may also play the talking-head commentator’s favorite game: the Winners and Losers.
I’ll go first…..
The Vermont NEA, for once again getting its way when it counts in a State House committee. When the House General and Housing Committee in early May added anti-harassment protections for students to a bill (S103) dealing with workforce and rental harrassment, the teachers’ union and other public school educational advocacy groups became alarmed. Giving students more power to file harrassment complaints against adult educators? NOT a good idea, they said. Days later an amendment emerged without the student harrassment section. It easily passed the House.
Abortion/Transgender rights advocates. Fresh off last November’s voter ratification of Article 22, enshrining abortion in the constitution, they quickly moved through not one but two abortion/transgender service provider shield bills, H.89 and H.37. The latter even tells the Attorney General she can file charges against pro-life pregnancy resource clinics for allegedly ‘deceptive’ marketing.
Also, a constitutional amendment was introduced on the last day of the session providing equal treatment under the law for identity groups including race, gender ID, and national origin. As with Article 22, some of the policy implications of the proposed amendment are unclear.
Jill Krowinski, Speaker of the House. Last spring she was mortified when the Clean Heat Standard veto override failed by a single vote due to her and her team’s failure to count heads accurately. Last November the Emerge Vermont Democratic candidate bootcamp she founded helped deliver a stunning victory that secured a supermajority that, so far, has proven veto-proof. (41 current House members are Emerge graduates.) It must have been sweet for her to stand at the podium and watch the new Democratic lawmakers sitting in formerly Republican House seats vote to override the veto to S.5, this year’s Clean Heat Standard bill.
Rep. Amy Sheldon – the chair of the Environment and Energy Committee finally succeeded in getting H.126, conserving 50% of total land area by 2050, through the Legislature. Even if it’s vetoed by the governor….see above for ‘veto override.’
Sheldon also put the kibosh on the upstarts in House General and Housing who wanted to ease Act 250 housing restrictions statewide. They learned that Act 250 reform is her baby, not theirs. To be fair, her committee did then somewhat expand the Act 250 exemption for new housing construction.
Sen. Phil Baruth and fellow gun-control advocates. Yes, H.230 passed both chambers by apparently veto-proof margins. But the bill’s 72-hour waiting period provision is deemed patently unconstitutional in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court Bruen decision. Time will tell…..
Everyone who got the short end of the stick in the bills mentioned above: harassed students, pregnancy resource centers, people concerned about heating their homes in a post S.5 regime, etc. Would-be gun owners (maybe).
Taxpayers, if Gov. Phil Scott has correctly calculated that proposed new spending will add $1200 to the cost of running the average Vermont household.
Progressive House members (sometimes). They went to bat for students against the NEA – and lost. They wanted the House/Senate leaders to restore $20 million in emergency ‘homeless hotel’ funding – and lost. Some are trying to exert pressure to restore the $$ by threatening to join the GOP in a supporting the governor’s possible-to-likely veto of the $8.5 billion budget. Stay tuned.
Categories: News Analysis