House Agrees to Reapportionment, Legislature Adjourns

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(Host) After spending five and a half months in session, the Legislature adjourned Thursday after passing a new compromise reapportionment plan.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Even though a lot of House Republicans clearly did not like the compromise reapportionment agreement, on Thursday afternoon most of them voted for the deal to help keep this issue out of the state’s court system. Burlington Representative Kurt Wright expressed the feelings of many GOP lawmakers when he accused the Senate Democrats of ramming their plan through, leaving House Republicans with the option of accepting an unfair plan or go to court:

(Wright) “But make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker. The Senate’s refusal to negotiate in good faith, the Senate’s refusal to compromise on Orange, on a common sense provision to putting Orange back where it belongs in Orange County, and what they did in Burlington in under representing and fair representation for Burlington ¿ there’s no question that the Senate negotiators sold Burlington down the river, the Winooski River.”

(Kinzel) The House then passed the reapportionment bill by a vote of 112 to 18.

Following this vote, Governor Howard Dean made his eleventh and final adjournment speech. Dean told members of the House that by adopting the agreement on reapportionment they had helped avoid a constitutional crisis:

(Dean) “But to not have the legislature do this, I think, would have been an enormous problem for the people of this state. It would have been a problem for all of you because we would have had to push filing deadlines back we wouldn’t have known what districts to run in and open seats wouldn’t have known where the open seats were. But more importantly, it would have been an enormous problem for the people of the state of Vermont.”

(Kinzel) Dean said he would save nostalgic comments about leaving Vermont political life for his farewell address to the Legislature next winter but he did thank lawmakers for working with him over his 20 years in office:

(Dean) “I’m deeply grateful for the job you’ve done, deeply grateful for the courtesies that you’ve shown me over the 20 years that I’ve served here. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing the right thing for the state of Vermont. Thank you very much.” (Applause from legislators.)

(Kinzel) Once the governor had been escorted out of the House chamber, House Speaker Walter Freed adjourned the House for the session:

(Freed) “All those in favor please signify by saying ‘aye.'” (Chorus of ayes.) “All those opposed signify by saying ‘nay.'” (Silence.) The ayes appear to have it, the ayes do have it and you’ve adjourned¿pursuant to the provisions of JRS 148. Enjoy your summer.” (Applause from legislators.)

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

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