Without veto threat, Clean Heat Standard, hard drug legalization, just cause eviction, and minor voting get second chance

By Guy Page

On Election Day, voters elected 37 Republicans to the Vermont House. This past session, the necessary 50 votes could often be found in a coalition of Republicans, sympathetic independents, and the occasional brave Democrat is history. When the 2023 Legislature convenes, the beefed-up Democrat/Progressive super-majority will have the leisure of passing bills without fear of a successful veto by Gov. Phil Scott.

Just two days after Election Day, House leadership has yet to release a legislative priority list. However, bills successfully vetoed by Gov. Scott last year would seem to be likely targets. Some of the vetoed bills (contractor registry, gun ban in hospitals) were simply tweaked, reworked into other bills and passed. Other big changes could be reintroduced in 2023 and easily passed into law include:

Safe injection sites, AKA ‘opioid overdose response services.’ Gov. Scott’s veto of H728 questioned if providing cop-free places to shoot up with new, clean needles really helps addicts. Supporters cite overdose reduction statistics in cities where it’s been tried. For some lawmakers ‘safe injection sites’ are a foot in the door towards hard drug legalization.

Other foot-in-the-door drug legalization bills also were vetoed. The proposed Drug Use Standards Advisory Board in H505 would study “decriminalizing personal use of cocaine and other hard drugs.” H534 would have “expanding eligibility for expungement and sealing of criminal history records for nonviolent offenses,” including some drug offenses. 

Clean Heat Standard. The House sustained the veto of H.715 when Democrat Tom Bock (since retired) surprised and angered House leadership by voting with Republicans. That won’t happen this year should this carbon tax to fund renewable power and energy efficiency providers return to the Legislature – which seems very likely.

Act 250 – Last year’s veto resulted in follow-on legislation of a handful of changes to Vermont’s land use and development law. This year, environmental, climate and anti-development priorities could pass unfettered over concerns raised about the high cost of new housing creation and property owners’ rights. 

Just Cause Eviction – Gov. Scott vetoed H708, a Burlington city charter change requiring landlords to show just cause for evicting tenants (by law they don’t need to now). Should the Legislature make Just Cause the law of the state, some private sector landlords may decide renting is no longer worthwhile. Increased condoization of apartment houses and more state spending for public housing construction are not unlikely outcomes. 

Voting by minors – Scott also vetoed H361, a Brattleboro charter change allowing 16-17 year old voting in local elections. (A national minor voting bill was supported by now Sen.-elect Peter Welch.) At the very least, Brattleboro can expect legislative approval of minors voting, very soon. 

The Legislature also has carte blanche to pass bills it never brought to the governor’s desk for fear of his veto pen. Legalized prostitution and removing police officers’ civil lawsuit protection (‘qualified immunity’) could be law by next summer, if the Legislature so decides. Gov. Scott may well be at the policy-making table, but now he’s just another voice. 

Categories: Legislation

20 replies »

  1. I wanted so badly to vote for Republicans in my district, Orange County, but they were just too far out of touch with reality and mouthed the MAGA line. As long as that is the case, Republicans will never get anywhere close to a majority in Vermont. As the results show, people are just not buying what their being sold. You can call Phil Scott a RINO as long as you want but that is what most people are looking for-moderate, rational.

    • We shall soon see how phil Scott is portrayed during the coming biennium. I suspect he will be labelled many things by the left as he speaks out about Vermont’s affordability crisis, lack of workforce and the usual laundry list of issues that past legislatures fail to correct. Expect a carbon tax, it was one of last year’s big disappointments for the elitist/socialist legislative leaders. With a veto-proof majority, Vermont voters have handed away the safeguards to the political process to lobbyists and astute political grifters.
      I assume ‘mike’ to be a troll on this forum, as he continues on with his anti-MAGA rant. Vermont’s political candidates were very much not MAGA- and certainly more centrist that their D/P challengers- MAGA candidates just won’t get elected here- so branding every R candidate with MAGA was a ploy by the D/P cabal that worked.
      The demographic change in Vermont’s population- exacerbated by Covid has brought in a wave of upper middle class and wealthy transplants that brought their jobs with them. Insulated from the economic issues we face in Vermont, they are enjoying lower taxes- income and property than they paid in metro NYC, NJ, CT, MA-
      so Vermont’s zealous tax rates are cheap to them. Likewise service sector costs are lower, Plumbers, Builders and Handymen charge much less than they were paying.
      A nirvana for these wealthy folk, but a huge burden for existing residents. Add the assuredly coming carbon tax schemes and energy regulations- the previously average Vermont resident just cannot afford. Now, with the upcoming legislature enjoying a veto proof majority- watch the gloves come off to steamroll Vermont, it’s residents and economy flat with a socialist and totalitarian agenda.
      That Republicans in Vermont are out of touch with reality is really a foolish statement.
      The 2023-2024 Vermont Legislature will prove my point, unfortunately for all of us.
      Sorry mike, the true definitions of reality and rational isn’t what you think they is.

      • Frank Bammo, also many people have been brought in. Poor people now on voting rolls. Some may also vote elsewhere. I myself received a letter, here at my VT apt., from the City of Philadelphia inviting me to vote by mail in ballot(!).

    • An exceptionally uninformed and uneducated comment, Mike. You seem to revel in the fact that Vermont is now dead inside with a bunch of gloating perverts in Montpelier delighting in stabbing the body.

    • Mike, just what exactly is rational about the Democrat/Progressive agenda? What is rational about voting for the Democrat/Progressive agenda because Republican candidates were too “MAGA” for you?

  2. Guy, You forgot a few for 2023. Don’t forget legalizing Prostitution. (That won’t be a city initiative, that will be a Vermont bill in Montpelier)
    Don’t forget prison reform, now that prop 2 passed. It will be the mass exodus of inmates from Vermont prison, since inmates are now considered slaves.

    • Anonymous, that is the idea. To break down Rule of Law.
      Democrats didn’t sweep everywhere. Hopefully Federal level lawsuits might spring up.

  3. I find it interesting that those who supported this other debacle of ending slavery( really, here in Vermont) are also supporting legalization of prostitution. Isn’t that a form of slavery and demeaning to women? Our legislators have lost not just their minds but their eternal souls as well. Vermont needs new leadership.

  4. This is a self inflicted wound,
    Until the VTGOP pulls it’s head out of its rectalpore.
    This will continue unabated!

  5. …and dont forget Sen. Baruth and Rep Lalonde will be salivating to blame law abiding gun owners for the downcountry thugs committing violence in our once-great state with a host of restrictions…

    • Perhaps baruth and the progressive socialists will meet their demise in pushing gun control for law abiding Vermonters while doing nothing about the drug dealers with illegal guns?? Sadly Vermont has become the new Venezuela or worse yet the new Sodom.

  6. Divided Republicans will never prevail. After all the years of circular firing squads at work, one would think that this would be figured out and take remedial action to counter. But NO, NO, NO, continue with the same ole modus operendi.

  7. I find it ridiculous that when a bill is vetoed, the sneaks that WE elected simply put it into another bill. what to heck is the point of veto if the people pushing it are turned down and get their way anyways. Same with handing over the control of the Carbon Imitative to a bunch of NON eletced officials who have total control of any funds raised through taxation to support their agenda. Taxation without representations, folks/ I am not denying global warming, but I hate how they handed it over so we cannot be pissed off at them,

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