Democrats will not challenge Douglas vetoes

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(Host) Democratic legislative leaders have decided not to challenge Governor Jim Douglas’s two vetoes from the recent session.

The Democrats have concluded that they don’t have the votes to overturn vetoes of the GE seed bill or gender identity legislation.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) When lawmakers adjourned several weeks ago, they passed a resolution that allows them to return to the Statehouse in the event that the governor vetoes any bills. The veto session was scheduled for Thursday, June 1.

Douglas has vetoed two bills. One holds the manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds liable if their products contaminate a nearby organic farm. The second piece of legislation prohibits discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

It takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate to override a gubernatorial veto. House Speaker Gaye Symington says it’s clear that backers of these two bills don’t have enough votes to overturn a veto. As a result, she says it makes little sense to bring lawmakers back to Montpelier at a cost of roughly $50,000 a day:

(Symington) “But I don’t think we do have the votes to override a veto. And so I think it’s tough to bring back the entire Legislature and pay the expense when the vote is a foregone conclusion.”

(Kinzel) Senate Majority leader John Campbell says he expects lawmakers to address both bills next January. He also hopes that backers of the GE seed bill will actively promote their proposal in the coming months.

(Campbell) “It’s probably important for everyone now to sit back, realize what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished more than any other state in the country at this point. I feel very confident that we’ll be having this discussion again and I hope next year when we do have the discussion the disinformation and distortions will in fact have no place at the table.”

(Kinzel) Senate minority leader Bill Doyle says he’s pleased that lawmakers won’t be coming back for a formal veto session in June.

(Doyle) “I think it enhances a session that already was a pretty good session and makes the judgement of the Legislature even better.”

(Kinzel) The governor’s office has indicated that Douglas won’t be vetoing any additional bills but in the event that he did, lawmakers could still hold a special session during the summer to consider the new veto.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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