(Host) Democrats in the House came up short in their attempt to override two gubernatorial vetoes today.
The global warming bill was defeated by a wide margin. But lawmakers failed by just one vote to override the veto of campaign finance legislation.
Both votes were a victory for Governor Jim Douglas, and a defeat for the Democratic majority in the Statehouse.
We have two reports on the special legislative session.
First VPR’s John Dillon:
(Symington) “Please listen to the results of your vote: Those voting yes, 86, those voting no, 61…”
(Dillon) The numbers did not add up for House Speaker Gaye Symington and her Democratic majority.
Symington needed 98 “yes” votes to pass the global warming bill in spite of the governor’s veto. And when the votes were tallied, 11 Democrats failed to side with their leadership.
She said lawmakers would return next year and try again.
(Symington) “We’re not thinking about the impact of our decisions today on the tomorrow we’re building for our kids. I remain committed to that work and we will come back and do the work next session. And I hope the governor can play a more constructive role in moving legislation forward rather than blocking it…”
(Dillon) For opponents of the global warming bill, the main issue was a tax on the power produced at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The tax money would fund an expanded energy conservation program.
On the House floor, Shelburne Republican Joyce Errecart spoke out against the bill.
(Errecart) “I can’t vote to give away taxpayer dollars by setting up a program that we don’t know how much it will cost, and how we’ll pay for it. I can’t vote for a tax on one taxpayer that when challenged in court will surely by found unconstitutional as denying equal protection of the laws.”
(Dillon) The vote capped months of intense lobbying from both sides. Hundreds of supporters crowded the House galleries. They rubbed shoulders with business lobbyists and officials from Entergy Vermont Yankee, the company targeted by the tax.
At times, the tone was like a political pep rally. Senate President Peter Shumlin told a morning news conference that some people might not realize that climate change is a serious threat.
(Shumlin) “And then there are those who have understood it, have seen the facts and will not act, want to maintain the status quo, want to stay in the pockets of big oil, want to pretend that it’s not really happening. In my judgment, unfortunately, in the camp, is Governor Jim Douglas.”
(Dillon) Douglas tried to strike a more conciliatory tone. He said he would implement key parts of the bill on his own through executive order.
(Douglas) “I look forward to working with legislators to fashion legislation this next year that will include some of the provisions that require legislation that I support that were in the House passed bill so we can move the state’s energy policy forward.”
(Dillon) The Senate passed its own version of the energy bill – without the Vermont Yankee tax – but Republicans in the House blocked the measure. They refused to suspend the rules to advance the bill during the one-day session.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.