New Supermajority in Vt. House Could Blunt Governor’s Veto Power

Election night wins by Democrats means a major change is coming for the Vermont Legislature.

Preliminary vote totals from the office of Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos indicate there will now be enough Democrats and Progressives in the House of Representatives to block the governor from using his veto authority.

"Bittersweet, in some respects," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said of an Election Day that earned him a second term, but saw House Republicans lose seats.

Gains by Democrats in the Vermont House means it appears they'll have more than 100 votes, if they stick together and team with Progressives, which would enable them to override vetoes from the governor.

Scott's used that power to block bills he doesn't like from becoming law, including one this year that would have incrementally raised the state's minimum wage.

"When you have a supermajority, there are some things that are going to happen that I can't prevent, so they'll have to work to make their case," Scott said of House Democrats in an interview with necn affiliate NBC 5 News. "I'll do whatever I can to find areas where we can work together."

House majority leader Jill Krowinski, a Democrat representing Burlington, said she expects the wage issue to be back on the table next session, along with a bill that would guarantee workers access to paid leave from their jobs after family changes such as a new baby.

Also sure to resurface, Krowinski predicted, are proposals to tax and regulate the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

However, Krowinski told necn that just because her caucus has this new veto-proof power doesn't mean it'll use it to steamroll Republicans, since she recognizes the governor was elected by a wide margin.

"What we heard from voters is they want us to come together and get good things done," Krowinski said. "As majority leader, what I think that means is we work with our friends across the aisle to pass legislation so we don't have to be overriding vetoes."

"Right now, today, I can't say that it's going work out, but I certainly hope it does," Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex, said of hope for greater tripartisan cooperation between Republicans, Democrats and Progressives.

Myers said House GOP members will be looking to keep a focus on affordability, but acknowledged that with their numbers now at even more of a minority, they'll have to be willing to compromise.

"If we don't do this – let's face it – then what do I see for the future of the party?" Myers said, referring to the challenging numbers in the House for Republicans. "That's my concern."

The new composition of the Vermont Legislature gets to work the first week of January.

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