Our “part-time” legislature has been in overdrive this year. Instead of adjourning in mid-May, the legislature stayed on to handle a deluge of Covid-19 legislation. That lasted until the end of June and passage of a three-month budget. In August the legislature reconvened to continue with Covid relief and other legislation, and to craft a budget for the full fiscal year.
That budget, which is balanced while leaving our rainy day funds intact, has been approved by the House and is now in the Senate where they intend to vote on it this week. When the budget is finalized and sent to the governor, hopefully by Friday, the legislature will adjourn until January when the newly elected legislature is sworn in.
In the meantime, the legislature has passed a number of other bills that were already in process from the spring. They range all over: prohibiting trade in endangered animal parts, availability of contraception, frontline worker hazard pay, and municipal charter changes. After weeks of negotiation and compromise, both bodies also finally agreed on a cannabis tax and regulate bill that the House has approved but the Senate still needs to formally act on. The Governor has not indicated whether he will sign it or not.
Last week Governor Scott vetoed Vermont’s Global Warming Solution Act, which was not unexpected. The house overrode his veto by a vote of 103-47. That bill is also in the Senate and they will take action on it early this week. A successful override requires a 2/3 vote in each chamber, and it is expected that the Senate will reach that threshold easily.