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Action Taken by Governor Phil Scott on Legislation - May 30, 2024

On May 30, Governor Scott signed bills of the following titles:

  • H.233, An act relating to licensure and regulation of pharmacy benefit managers
  • H.503, An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of St. Johnsbury
  • H.534, An act relating to retail theft
  • H.563, An act relating to unlawful trespass in a motor vehicle and unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent
  • H.585, An act relating to amending the pension system for sheriffs and certain deputy sheriffs
  • S.25, An act relating to regulating consumer products containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances or other chemicals
  • S.30, An act relating to creating a Sister State Program
  • S.55, An act relating to updating Vermont’s Open Meeting Law
  • S.98, An act relating to Green Mountain Care Board authority over prescription drug costs and the Green Mountain Care Board nomination and appointment process
  • S.184, An act relating to the temporary use of automated traffic law enforcement (ATLE) systems
  • S.191, An act relating to New American educational grant opportunities
  • S.192, An act relating to civil commitment procedures at a secure residential recovery facility and a psychiatric residential treatment facility for youth and civil commitment procedures for individuals with an intellectual disability
  • S.195, An act relating to how a defendant’s criminal record is considered in imposing conditions of release
  • S.204, An act relating to supporting Vermont's young readers through evidence-based literacy instruction
  • S.206, An act relating to designating Juneteenth as a legal holiday
  • S.301, An act relating to miscellaneous agricultural subjects
  • S.305, An act relating to miscellaneous changes related to the Public Utility Commission
  • S.310, An act relating to natural disaster government response, recovery, and resiliency

When signing S.191 Governor Scott issued the following statement:

“New Americans have been through so much before getting to Vermont, and this bill will help to expand opportunities for them by furthering their education and training for new skills that lead to good paying jobs. At a time where we continue to see our population getting older, and our workforce declining, we need to do everything we can to reverse these trends and support good careers for all Vermonters.”

When signing S.204 Governor Scott issued the following statement:

“Making sure our kids have a strong foundation of reading skills is critical to their long-term success in the classroom and beyond. This bill continues to build on the work we have done to improve student literacy. The Agency of Education will support Vermont schools and educators as they tackle this important challenge and implement this new law.”

On May 30, Governor Scott returned without signature and vetoed H.72, An act relating to a harm-reduction criminal justice response to drug use, and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:

May 30, 2024

Dear Ms. Wrask:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I’m returning H.72, An act relating to harm-reduction criminal justice response to drug use, without my signature because of my objections described herein.

Drug addiction is something we must continuously address, and this important work is never done. That’s why year after year, I have prioritized expansion and enhancement of prevention, enforcement, treatment, and long-term recovery services. I have been urging the Legislature to strengthen the law enforcement response to the increasingly toxic drug stream entering our state. And I feel for every family grieving an overdose death.

While these sites are well-intentioned, this costly experiment will divert financial resources from proven prevention, treatment and recovery strategies, as well as harm reduction initiatives that facilitate entry into treatment rather than continued use. While it may consolidate the widespread drug use in Burlington into a smaller area within the city, it will come at the expense of the treatment and recovery needs of other communities, for whom such a model will not work. 

Vermont’s existing overdose prevention strategies – including widespread Narcan distribution, fentanyl testing strips, needle exchanges, enhanced prevention, treatment and recovery through local coalitions are resulting in some positive trends in relation to overdose deaths. And paired with increased enforcement, and the ability to invest Opioid Settlement funds in additional strategies like drug testing, naloxone vending machines, contingency management and expanded outreach, I’m hopeful we will continue to see fewer and fewer overdose deaths. 

Sincerely,

/s/

Philip B. Scott

Governor

On May 30, Governor Scott allowed S.213, An act relating to the regulation of wetlands, river corridor development, and dam safety, to become law without his signature and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:

May 30, 2024

Dear Mr. Bloomer:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, S.213, An act relating to the regulation of wetlands, river corridor development, and dam safety, will become law without my signature.

S.213 is another example of this Legislature’s practice of passing complex and significant policies without appropriate consideration of whether they can even be implemented.

Throughout the session, the Agency of Natural Resources’ subject matter experts repeatedly told legislators that the work required in the bill is not achievable in the timeline it sets.

Specifically, S.213 envisions a major new river corridor regulatory program – which will impact development on roughly 45,000 parcels and 209,000 acres statewide – will be up and running in three years. And this is just one of the four complex initiatives this bill directs – including expanded regulation of wetlands and dam safety oversight. With the program anticipated to have a sizeable impact on communities and landowners, this pace is reckless. 

However, we also told legislators throughout the session, we support the goals and agree this work needs to be done. Therefore, this bill will become law without my signature, but you can expect us to come back in January and propose a sensible timeline that is actually achievable and does this work correctly for the people of Vermont.

Sincerely,

/s/

Philip B. Scott

Governor

On May 30, Governor Scott allowed S.259, An act relating to climate change cost recovery, to become law without his signature and sent a letter to the General Assembly:

May 30, 2024

Dear Mr. Bloomer:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, S.259, An act relating to climate change cost recovery, will become law without my signature.

Instead of coordinating with other states like New York and California, with far more abundant resources, Vermont – one of the least populated states with the lowest GDP in the country – has decided to recover costs associated with climate change on its own.

Taking on “Big Oil” should not be taken lightly. And with just $600,000 appropriated by the Legislature to complete an analysis that will need to withstand intense legal scrutiny from a well-funded defense, we are not positioning ourselves for success.

I’m deeply concerned about both short- and long-term costs and outcomes. Just look at our unsuccessful nationally-focused cases on GMOs, campaign finance and pharmaceutical marketing practices. I’m also fearful that if we fail in this legal challenge, it will set precedent and hamper other states’ ability to recover damages.

Having said that, I understand the desire to seek funding to mitigate the effects of climate change that has hurt our state in so many ways. I also note Attorney General Clark and Treasurer Pieciak have endorsed this policy and committed to the work it will require. I’m also comforted by the fact that the Agency of Natural Resources is required to report back to the Legislature in January 2025 on the feasibility of this effort, so we can reassess our go-it-alone approach. So, for these reasons, this bill will become law without my signature. I hope those who endorsed this policy will follow through.

Sincerely,

/s/

Philip B. Scott

Governor

To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2024 legislative session, click here.

Governor Scott recently discussed his decision-making approach to the bills passed by the Legislature, highlighting the challenge of balancing benefits, costs and risks, and concerns about the realities of new costs and short timelines for numerous new initiatives coming out of the Legislature. In part, Governor Scott said, “As I’ve always done, I will carefully weigh the good against the bad to make a decision based on whether the benefits outweigh the negative impacts for our entire state. These decisions aren’t easy and they’re not always popular here in Montpelier. But I’ll take that heat when I believe I’m making the right choice for the everyday Vermonter.” Read his full statement here.