Scott ponders veto of pot legalization bill

Ethics bill requires tax return, $$ source disclosure

Sec State answers questions about “double-voting”

By Guy Page

Page Communications

Gov. Phil Scott is pondering whether or not to veto S22, the bill passed by the House 79–66 last week to legalize non-regulated possession of one ounce of marijuana and two mature plants, and also to study commercial, regulated cultivation and retail sale.

Friday, Gov. Scott sent the following email response to a letter urging his veto:

“Thank you for contacting me to share your views on the legalization of marijuana in Vermont. I have received much correspondence on this issue since the Legislature passed S.22 on May 10. From a procedural standpoint, the bill will now be reviewed by the House and Senate staff and Legislative Council before it is returned to me to be reviewed by my General Counsel, as it has evolved greatly over the course of the legislative session. I will also be having conversations with the Vermont Agency of Education, Department of Public Safety, Department of Health and other potentially impacted state agencies to get their comments and input.

“Multiple aspects of this issue, and how they are addressed in the bill, are concerning to me, such as how we detect impairment on our roadways, implement substance abuse education, keep our children safe, and weigh how legalization will impact the mental health and substance abuse issues our communities are already facing. While I am not philosophically opposed, I feel it is crucial all questions are addressed.”

Vermonters wishing to advise the governor on the proposed veto (or other issue) may use the following media:

Email: Ethan.latour@vermont.gov

Message: HTTP://GOVERNOR.VERMONT.GOV/CONTACT-US/MESSAGE
 US MAIL: Vermont Governor Phil Scott, 109 State St., Pavilion, Montpelier, VT 05609
 PHONE: 802–828–3333 [leave a message]

Gov. Scott is also grappling with the Legislature’s unwillingness to require public school teachers to join the state employee health plan, which he says will save taxpayers $26 million in the coming year alone. The disagreement is holding up the adoption of a State Budget, which means the Legislature will meet again this week — at a cost per week of $250,000.

Bills of interest passed by the Legislature last week:

S16 allows “medical marijuana” dispensary licensees to operate under for-profit status, and expands the potential number of sites from four to 12. This bill, and S22, have both been questioned as possibly illegal under federal marijuana laws.

S112 creates a Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force, to make legislative recommendations about alimony and other types of support.

S.8 establishes a state ethics commission, requires legislators and senior state officials to wait a year before earning money as a lobbyist, requires candidates for the Legislature to declare at filing all sources of income over $5000 for themselves/spouses/domestic partners, and requires candidates for statewide office (governor, lt. governor, attorney general, etc.) to disclose their tax returns when they file their petition to run for office.

And speaking of electoral ethics — in his press release today criticizing Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order about voter fraud, Sec. State James Condos said, “In January, we implemented same-day voter registration, making it easier for Vermonters to register and vote on Election Day.” State House Headliners (SHH) contacted his office at 1 pm to ask how same-day voter registration precludes “double voting,” i.e. voting in more than one precinct, either in Vermont or in another state. At 1:30 Sec. Condos returned the call. While he said same-day voting law does not specifically protect against double voting, he did say:

· This summer Vermont will join the Pew Trust’s ERIC database, which can detect voter fraud in 21 participating states. No workable 50-state system exists, due to current concerns about voter privacy, Condos said.

· The State’s new election software allows municipalities with Wi-Fi, skill, and willpower to detect double voting on Election Day. The same software will empower the Secretary of State to identify double voting after Election Day. Suspects may be reported to the Attorney General, and may face Freeman’s Oath-violation perjury charges carrying sentences of up to five years in prison.

SHH appreciates Sec. Condos’ prompt, informative response. Vermonters concerned about double-voting and other potential voter fraud may encourage their local voting officials, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General to be vigilant, diligent, non-partisan and thorough — and they might even want to get involved by running for local Justice of the Peace.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) will host representatives of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) May 25 meeting 6–9:15 PM in the Multipurpose Room at Brattleboro Area Middle School, 109 Sunny Acres, Brattleboro. The NRC will outline and answer questions about NorthStar plan to decommission Vermont Yankee, and has allotted 90 minutes for Public comment. NorthStar would restore the Vermont Yankee site for new industry by as soon as 2026, for less money than the current Entergy plan. For more information contact page@vtep.org.