Legislature says Saturday adjournment possible

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(Host) Legislative leaders say they’re convinced that it will be possible for lawmakers to adjourn tonight.

But as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, it’s very likely that legislators will be coming back to the Statehouse in several weeks for a special veto session.

(Kinzel) There’s optimism that the regular session will conclude this weekend because the two most controversial bills – health care reform and the state budget – are moving through the legislative process and should be on their way to the governor by late Saturday night.

Douglas plans to veto the health care bill because it contains a payroll tax. And he may veto the budget bill because it includes a provision calling for binding arbitration in the dispute between the faculty and management of the Vermont State Colleges.

The governor says he probably won’t veto the bills for several days to give his staff a chance to carefully review the legislation. So when lawmakers leave Montpelier they’ll adopt a resolution that allows them to come back in a special veto session to give them a chance to override the governor’s veto.

House Speaker Gaye Symington says the time frame for the session is uncertain – if Douglas vetoes the budget bill – it’s likely that lawmakers will come back before the end of June because the state’s new fiscal year begins on July first:

(Symington) “It would probably be the end of June. I’m working through a draft of a adjournment resolution now. I don’t want to bring people back and then have this same stop go stop go to the day and give the staff time to have everything prepared so we know what we’re working on when we get back.”

(Kinzel) This session marks Symington’s first year as House Speaker. She says she’s been disappointed by the negative tone of the Douglas Administration during this final week

(Douglas) “This is a theater at the end of the session. To be perfectly blunt what we’re seeing is amateur hour.”

(Symington) “I think the comment about amateur hour was totally inappropriate and completely disrespectful. And I would really hope that the chief executive officer of the state could treat the Legislature with more respect than a comment like that indicates.”

(Kinzel) It’s also clear that several controversial issues won’t receive final consideration this year and will be held over until next January because House Republicans are refusing to suspend their rules to immediately take up these bills.

These issues include the G.E. seed bill and a resolution that calls for a study of the Vermont National Guard. The Republicans say both issues need a lot more study before lawmakers vote on them.

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

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