IN THE TIME OF MONEY
This was a big week in Montpelier. The House passed the budget, revenue bill and capital bill. Timing is on par with most legislative sessions. With 12 weeks in the books the legislature is two-thirds of the way through the scheduled 18 week session. What is somewhat more unusual - at least compared to recent sessions - is how little controversy there has been.
It has been widely reported that both the governor and legislative leaders are seeking more consensus and a friendlier approach in their negotiations this year. That has resulted in fewer partisan disagreements in the legislature thus far. However, the dynamic changed when a proposal to fund weatherization programs by doubling the tax on heating fuels reached the House floor. This led to a contentious debate on the floor with Republicans and some Democratic members from rural districts voicing serious concerns about the legislation.
The governor appears to be signaling that he will veto the proposal if it makes it through the Senate and to his desk. There are other bills Governor Scott might veto but those are mostly holdovers from the previous biennium. Those bills include minimum wage and paid family leave. The weatherization bill is the first during the 2019 legislative session that highlights the clear difference in the approach the Republican Governor and the Democratically controlled legislature take in policy making.
The challenge for the Democrats is that some of their members sided with Republicans and voted against the bill. This may be a bill that really puts the super majority to the test.
However, the budget and the capital bill were controversy free. The budget passed with only one member voting nay.
With only six weeks left in the session the pace will pick up in Montpelier with hopes of adjourning on time. How much controversy and conflict there will be on the money bills or some of the policy bills will become clear pretty quickly.