No action expected on four-year term

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(Host) A proposed constitutional amendment extending the governor’s term in office to four years has been dealt a major setback in the Senate. The head of the Senate Government Operations Committee says his panel is divided over this issue and no action on the plan is expected for the rest of the session.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) It now appears very likely that Vermont is going to retain its distinction of being one of only two states in the country that has a two-year term for governor. That’s because there’s no consensus on a key senate committee on how to proceed with this issue.

Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Bill Doyle is the lead sponsor of a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution to extend the governor’s term to four years. Doyle’s committee held public hearings throughout the state on this issue this winter but the issue did not evoke a lot of public testimony.

The panel has been reviewing the proposal this week and Doyle says there are three distinct points of view on his committee. The first group opposes a four-year term, the second backs it while the third only supports the plan if the terms of lawmakers are also extended to four years.

Doyle says it’s very unlikely that the issue will be voted out his committee because none of the proposals has the majority support of the panel:

(Doyle) You really have to go to the floor with a very solid vote because you have to have 20 votes on the Senate floor and that’s extraordinarily difficult. And it’s difficult to amend the constitution and I think it’s good that it is difficult. I think what happens now at this point there’ll be no action out of the committee.”

(Kinzel) Windham Senator Jeannette White thinks the current system should be left in place because there are problems with both a four-year term for governor and for lawmakers:

(White) “I originally had thought that a four-year term made a lot of sense for the governor. The more I hear about it the more concerned I am about that, because I don’t think you can have a four-year term for the governor without at least the Senate. I’m not so sure that I want four-year terms for the Senate because it moves us more in the direction of a professional legislature instead of a citizen legislature.”

(Kinzel) White says the lack of public interest in this proposal indicates to her that many Vermonters don’t view the issue as a major concern.

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

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