Scott: Passage Of Marijuana Legalization Bill During Veto Session 'Wasn't A Priority For Me'

Jun 22, 2017

Gov. Phil Scott says he didn't encourage lawmakers to support the marijuana legalization bill during this week's veto session because passage of the legislation was not a high priority for him.

When the governor vetoed the marijuana legalization bill in May, he said he could support a new bill if it addressed some of his problems with the original legislation, including public safety and driver impairment.

But a revised bill that addressed a number of his concerns did not clear a procedural hurdle in the one-day veto session.

Despite getting the changes he wanted, Scott says he did not do anything to promote the bill.

"This wasn't a priority for me," said Scott. "If it had moved forward and passed, I would have been happy to sign it."   

During Wednesday's veto session, Scott and Democratic leaders did reach an agreement on a new bill, and the legislation passed the Senate with no debate.

But the measure needed a rules suspension to be considered in the House, and most members of the Republican caucus, as well as some Democrats and Independents, voted to block debate over the bill.

At a press conference at the end of May, Scott said he would talk to the House Republican caucus about this issue if he was able to reach a final compromise with Democratic leaders.

"If we get a point where we think we can agree, I certainly will reach out," said Scott. "I'm not sure that I'll have the power to change the minority leadership's mind on this, but I'll advocate for it."

Scott says he did meet with House Republicans during the veto session, but he says he didn't ask them to support the rules suspension that was needed to bring the bill to the floor for debate.

"I didn't encourage them, I didn't twist any arms; This is a personal decision that they had to make," said Scott. "They decided at that point they were going to come together and decide as a caucus.”

Scott says it is likely that he'll create a special commission through an executive order to look at the implications of a regulated market. He says he wants that work to begin before the Legislature returns in January so that issues surrounding driver impairment can receive a thorough study in the coming months.