Scott vetoes ‘just cause’ eviction, signs criminal threatening bill

By Guy Page

Governor Phil Scott yesterday vetoed a Burlington charter change requiring landlords show ‘just cause’ for eviction. State law doesn’t require just cause.

Scott also signed into law S265, the ‘criminal threatening’ bill that doubles criminal penalties for threatening public servants or candidates. Critics of S265 – including Rep. Matthew Walker of Swanton – say the law unfairly makes some Vermonters are ‘more equal than others.’

Scott’s H708 ‘just cause’ veto was about providing more rental housing, not less.

“We must not add policies that will remove much-needed housing units from the market,” Scott’s veto letter to the House of Representatives said. “By eliminating a property owner’s ability to end a lease agreement at the time of the mutually agreed upon end date within a lease, this ‘just cause eviction’ law effectively creates the potential for perpetual tenancy, undermining private property rights and a foundational principle of choosing to rent your property.”

H715 passed the House 98-49. All but a few Democrats and Progressives voting yes. It remains to be seen whether House leadership can muster 100 votes to override the veto, or whether it will even try. 

Governor Scott yesterday signed the following bills into law:

H.629, access to adoption records

S.72, Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

S.265, expanding criminal threatening to include threats to third persons

S.171, adoption of a State code of ethics. Gov. Scott issued this statement: “This bill takes a positive step towards ensuring public trust in their elected officials. In recent decades governors of both parties have adopted policies for the Executive Branch which mirror or exceed the conflict of interest and ethical obligations in this bill. Even though the Legislature created an exception for itself regarding conflicts of interest, I believe this represents an opportunity for them to develop transparent rules and policies consistent with this new state law.”

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