Democrat-controlled Vermont Legislature attempts to override Republican governor's vetoes

The Democrat-controlled Vermont legislature returned to the Statehouse on Monday to try to override Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s vetoes, including his rejection of bills cracking down on companies’ use of online personal data and creating a drug overdose prevention center in the state’s largest city.

The House and Senate, which both have a supermajority, are also expected to take up the governor’s vetoes of bills on property taxes, restricting a type of pesticide that’s toxic to bees and requiring state utilities to source all renewable energy by 2035.

Each chamber needs two-thirds of those present to vote to override to be successful in passing the bills.

Scott vetoed eight bills this session, saying last month that “sometimes the Legislature focuses so much on their goals they don’t consider the unintended consequences.” While his vetoes aren’t popular in Montpelier, “I’ll take that heat when I believe I’m making the right choice for the everyday Vermonter,” Scott said.

The data privacy bill was considered to be among the strongest in the country that would allow consumers to file civil lawsuits against companies that break certain privacy rules. Scott vetoed the legislation last week, saying it would make Vermont “a national outlier and more hostile than any other state to many businesses and non-profits.”

The Legislature expects to override his veto of a measure that bans uses of the pesticides neonicotinoids — commonly called neonics — as well as selling or distributing soybean and cereal grain seeds that are coated in the substance. Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the legislation last month saying it “is more anti-farmer than it is pro-pollinator.”

The governor also vetoed a bill allowing the creation of a pilot overdose prevention center in Burlington, including a safe injection site where people can use narcotics under the supervision of trained staff and be revived if they take too much. Democrats hope to overturn that veto.

The Legislature will also take up Scott’s veto of a bill that would have required state utilities to source all renewable energy by 2035. The governor said the move would be too costly for ratepayers.

Under the legislation, the biggest utilities would need to meet the goal by 2030. If the Legislature overrides the veto, Vermont would become the second state with such an ambitious timeline.

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