Legislative Session Review: Vermont

By Jason Phillips | July 9, 2018

Vermont - Adjournment Graphic

Despite veto threats from Governor Phil Scott (R), the Democratic-controlled Vermont legislature overwhelmingly passed a budget package that included property tax rate increases before adjourning on May 13. Scott subsequently vetoed the legislature’s budget and tax bills and called for a special session beginning on May 23 that centered around the potential property tax increases.

The special session dragged on for six weeks as Governor Scott vetoed two budgets, attempting to avoid increases in property tax rates. Ultimately, with a government shutdown looming, the governor and legislature reached a compromise on reduced property tax increases. This brought a tumultuous end to a session in which the governor and legislature reached compromise on new gun legislation, but otherwise struggled to find common ground.

Legislative Highlights

  • Governor Scott signed a package of bills aimed at reducing gun violence. The new laws include an extension of background checks to private sales and increase in gun purchase age from 18 to 21, among other measures.
  • Governor Scott signed a bill legalizing marijuana possession after vetoing a similar bill last year. The law will allow adults aged 21 and over to grow marijuana and possess up to one ounce.

Election Preview

Vermont voters will go to the election booths on November 6 to elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, all 30 state senate seats and all 150 state house seats.

Governor Scott is favored to win reelection to his second term after taking office in 2016. He is expected to fend off a primary challenge from grocer Keith Stern, who previously ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Tea Party candidate. On the Democratic side, primary candidates include environmental activist James Ehlers, former Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist, Southern Vermont Dance Festival Director Brenda Siegel, and 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn, who is able to run because Vermont doesn’t have an age requirement for gubernatorial candidates.

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