Waiting period, 16-year-old voting, budget also may come up
By Guy Page
The word around the State House is that a veto session will be held June 20-22 for S.5, the carbon-taxing climate change bill vetoed Friday by Gov. Phil Scott.
Pitting the nation’s most popular governor supported by an outspoken citizenry vs. an ostensibly veto-proof legislative supermajority, the S. 5 battle will be the veto session’s main event.
But the undercard could be pretty interesting, too. Other possible veto session bills:
The budget. After the Senate passed its version of H.494 last week, Gov. Scott issued this statement: “In the coming weeks, I know legislators may claim their budget includes funding for a lot of my initiatives, but it’s what they added, and the price tag that comes with it, that has me concerned. The Senate budget passed today will increase spending at more than twice the rate of inflation, and that doesn’t include the hundreds of millions in new taxes and fees being contemplated in other legislation, which makes it unsustainable.”
When this governor uses phrases like “has me concerned” or words like “unsustainable,” he may be signaling a veto. Meanwhile the budget has been sent to a House/Senate conference committee to reconcile considerable differences in spending priorities – notably over child care and paid leave.
H.230, this session’s gun control bill, includes a 72-hour waiting period before firearm transfers. In 2019 he vetoed a 24-hour waiting period, saying the bill didn’t do enough to address concerns about suicide-by-gun. H230 was billed as a suicide prevention bill. It’s uncertain whether the final bill – still requiring reconciliation of the House and Senate versions – will merit a veto. Its five roll calls hovered around the ⅔ necessary to override.
H.386, 16-year-old voting in Brattleboro, now in the Senate. Brattleboro proposed charter change allows 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. The House passed H.386 overwhelmingly on April 12. The Senate – which passed a similar bill last year, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Scott – has sent it to the Government Operations Committee.
A bill that may have avoided a veto is S.100, the omnibus housing bill. After last month’s uprising in the House Housing Committee, the House Environment and Energy Committee yesterday expanded rural housing options exempted from Act 250.
S.100 was voted out of E&E and sent to the House floor. It will now go to the House “money” committees for review of its fiscal needs and impacts. The 10-unit cap on rural housing development exemptions from Act 250 review remains, despite urgent calls to raise the cap to 25. However, changes enacted by E&E include:
- Four-unit rehabs of single-unit homes would count as a single unit under the 10-unit cap.
- The 25-unit exemption allowed only in urban growth areas has expanded to several development designations, including in small towns.
The changes fall short of raising the Act 250 review exemption to 25 units statewide. However, they’ve been relaxed enough to satisfy the Rural Caucus, a tri-partisan group of lawmakers that last month wanted the 25-unit cap. Whether the changes are enough to satisfy Gov. Scott’s demand for eased housing construction regulations will likely be a question asked at tomorrow’s press conference.