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Vt. House leaders try to corral votes ahead of minimum wage showdown

(WCAX)
Published: Feb. 17, 2020 at 4:36 PM EST
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Democratic leaders in the Vermont House are scrambling to corral votes ahead of an expected attempt to override Governor Scott's veto on a bill raising the minimum wage.

"The conversation is, 'where are your concerns'? Where are you right now? and what information do you need to make a decision?'" said House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington.

The senate voted last week to override the governor's veto by a vote of 24 to 6, but Democratic leaders are facing an uphill battle in the House, where the original vote on the bill passed 93 to 54, seven votes shy of the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.

Krowinski says minimum wage advocates and House leaders are working to muster every vote they can. "We need to form a coalition with Independents and Progressives to hit that threshold of 100 votes," she said.

WCAX reached out to every Democratic lawmaker who voted against the bill originally. Representatives Charles Kimbell, D-Woodstock, Daniel Noyes, D-Wolcott, and John Gannon, D-Wilmington, did not respond Monday. Two other lawmakers say that they're still concerned with parts of the bill but aren't sharing their vote just yet. Rep. Theresa Wood, D-Waterbury, says she's voting to override. Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, says she'll likely oppose the override because it will hurt the people it intends to help. Rep. Sam Young, D-Orleans, says he's still weighing his options.

The stakes are high for Democratic leaders after a previous veto override on a paid family leave bill failed by just one vote two weeks ago. Krowinski says the policy and politics around this veto override vote is different.

"It's like comparing apples to oranges. It's a different group of legislators who are making this decision on how to vote and talking with their constituents, and we're talking about different issues," Krowinski said.

Until the vote, leaders on both sides admit the pressure is on in yet another veto showdown.

"For those who voted against minimum wage on the other side of aisle, I'm sure there is incredible pressure on them to override my veto regardless of how they feel about... regardless how their constituents might feel," Gov. Scott said Thursday.

The earliest House lawmakers could take a vote on the issue is this Wednesday, but that's not a hard deadline.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, ultimately has to make the final call.