Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe launched the 2019-2020 legislative biennium with a challenge to his colleagues: “I challenge each of you, and I challenge myself, to never let go of this one question: what can we do to improve life in the other Vermont?” Ashe describes “the near complete takeover of the legislative process by special interests” that inspired his challenge. He also discusses his proposal to reduce Vermont’s incarceration rate and end the use of out-of-state prisons, legalize and tax marijuana sales, and speculates on whether this session will end in a raft of vetoes by Gov. Phil Scott as it did in 2018. (February 13, 2019 broadcast)
On May 22, 2018, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed four bills passed by the Legislature, including legislation that would have raised Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 and established a paid family leave program. Scott previously vetoed legislation regulating toxic chemicals, and he is expected veto the state budget and tax bills. The Vermont legislature convened in a rare special session to address the vetoes. The state budget has only been vetoed once in state history prior to Gov. Scott’s tenure; this will be Scott’s second budget veto. What is the crisis? Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson say there is none. “This is a manufactured political battle,” says Ashe. “We have a governor who is playing off bogus plans…. If he wants to stand behind destroying our schools, that’s on him.” (May 23, 2018 broadcast)
Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe discusses Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of Vermont’s first-in-the-nation legislative marijuana legalization and the governor’s attack on teachers’ unions. “Perhaps we were too optimistic that there would actually be compromise,” he says. “I can imagine what might follow next is some type of proposal related to state employees, right to work laws which have gained currency in other states. …We will do everything that we can to stop that.” (May 24, 2017 broadcast)
VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow guest hosts The Vermont Conversation with a focus on the Legislative Year in Review.
Andrew Stein, a reporter for VTDigger.org joins Dan in the studio and offers his thoughts on the session highlights and memorable moments.
Sen. Tim Ashe, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee; Sen. Claire Ayer, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee; and Rep. Margaret Cheney, the vice-chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee call into the show to share their points of view.
Program Assistant Russ Elek discusses VBSR events and announcements for the upcoming months.