Senate Reconvenes for Veto Session

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(Host) The Senate returned to Montpelier on Friday in an unusual veto session. The legislative chamber overwhelmingly sustained Governor Howard Dean’s veto of an abandoned vehicle bill.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) At 10:30 on Friday morning, Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin gaveled the Senate into order for a rare veto session:

(Shumlin) “Welcome to the veto session. Some would say we have to stop meeting like this.”

(Kinzel) The session was called because the governor vetoed a bill that was designed to make it easier to deal with abandoned vehicles. The governor concluded that an amendment tacked onto the bill in the final days of the session would actually make it harder to properly dispose of these vehicles.

Legislative leaders decided not to try to fix this problem this year because that would have required all 180 lawmakers to return to the Statehouse. Instead, only the Senate came back to sustain the veto. Addison Senator Tom Bahre disagreed with this approach and urged his colleagues to override the veto:

(Bahre) “My vote and I hope your vote will be to override, not sustain, but to override this veto in deference to the businesses that for too long have been abused unofficially in order to function.”

(Kinzel) Caledonia Senator Rob Ide agreed with Bahre that the state’s current law is very unfair to tow truck operators who deal with abandoned vehicles and Ide was disappointed that the legislation had been changed in the House. But Ide said it would be better to deal with this issue next January:

(Ide) “In my opinion, Mr. President, this was very unfortunate action. I don’t think anyone did this with malice. I think it was perhaps a drafting error, the sentence is a compound sentence and it certainly is constructed in a confusing way.”

(Kinzel) The Senate then voted 23 to 2 to support the governor’s veto of the bill. And at just after 11 in the morning, Senator Shumlin, in his capacity as president of the Senate, brought the gavel down on the 2002 session:

(Shumlin) “The ayes have it and the Senate will stand in adjournment until January next….” (Sound of gavel banging.)

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

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