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Scott vetoes noncitizen voting measures, signs 8 other bills

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 11:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:43 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Governor Phil Scott Tuesday vetoed two charter change bills related to noncitizen voting in Winooski and Montpelier.

The cities wanted all residents to be able to vote in local elections, even if they’re not yet U.S. citizens or are in the process of being one. The governor rejected H.177 and H. 227 because he says he wants a uniform, statewide policy. He says the Legislature should establish a clear and consistent way of defining how towns determine which legal residents may vote on local issues.

“I understand these charter changes are well-intentioned, but I ask the Legislature to revisit the issue of non-citizen voting in a more comprehensive manner and develop a statewide policy or a uniform template and process for those municipalities wishing to grant the right of voting in local elections to all legal residents,” Scott said in a statement.

With his action, Scott now sets the record for the number of vetoes while in office at 22, beating Democratic Governor Howard Dean.

Vermont legislative leaders Wednesday said that while they agree the noncitizen voting issue warrants further discussion, the desires of voters in those communities should be respected. “These bills were important to many Vermonters from those communities and if we truly believe local control then members of these communities can say who they believe should have a say in local elections,” said Senate President Becca Balint, D-Windham County.

“I can appreciate the governor’s desire to have a statewide framework for policy, and that is important in some policy matters, but it simply doesn’t work in situations like this that require charters to be tailored to a specific community,” House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, said in a statement. Both lawmakers say they expect to override the veto when lawmakers return later this month.

GOVERNOR SIGNS CHILD CARE, OPIOID TREATMENT BILLS

The governor also signed eight other bills, including one related to child care spending and another on opioid addiction treatment.

H. 171 provides state funding and investments into child care across Vermont. The bill expands access to benefits for more families and creates a simplified family co-payment. The governor says the bill also includes money for providers to pay off student loans and for scholarships. Lawmakers say the goal is to not only attract child care staff into the workforce but to help them make a career out of it.

Scott also signed H. 225., a bill that decriminalizes possession of up to 224 milligrams of buprenorphine. The medication is used to help people struggling with opioid addiction. The governor supports another strategy but believes more data needs to be collected to truly understand the full effectiveness of the drug and worries about the impact of diverted medication and its use outside of treatment. It is a bit of experimental legislation as lawmakers set a date of July 1, 2023. Scott signed an executive order accompanying the bill to allow experts to assess its effectiveness.

Related Stories:

Vt. lawmakers consider decriminalizing opioid treatment drug

Winooski debating implementing non-citizen voting for local elections

Noncitizen voting approved in Winooski

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