Shumlin Vetoes Bill That Includes 'More Cumbersome' Clean Water Board

May 24, 2016

Gov. Peter Shumlin has issued his first veto of the 2016 session. The governor says a bill expanding the membership of the state's Clean Water Fund Board could have slowed down efforts to clean up lakes and streams across the state.

Legislative leaders are not inclined to fight the governor over this issue.

Last year, the Legislature created a Clean Water Fund Board to allocate state and federal money to projects to reduce phosphorus run off throughout Vermont.

The board was made up of five members who are all top officials in the Shumlin administration.

The bill this year added four public members to the board.

Shumlin says he vetoed the legislation because he says it's much too soon to make changes to the new law.

“We've got a lot of work to do. We should do it quickly. We've got to get our waterways cleaned up, and I don't think adding a more cumbersome board will necessarily help us get that done,” Shumlin says. “It's the administration's job to do the work and we should do it."

Shumlin says the Clean Water Fund is targeted primarily at three groups:

“One is farmers so they can have the proper equipment technology to be able to lower phosphorous runoff into our lakes and streams. Second is municipalities where their dirt roads … put a lot of natural phosphorus through wash outs and erosion, and the third is impervious surfaces, roof tops, parking lots, new construction where we can do that a lot smarter going forward.”

House Speaker Shap Smith says he won't ask House members to come back to consider overriding the veto because it's an issue that can be revisited next year.

"It is discretionary, particularly if it would cost too much to bring people back,” Smith says.  “And it's not clear whether it would actually be overwritten." 

The governor's office says it has many more bills to review and that it's not clear if any additional vetoes will be issued.