Legislative session ends

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(Host) The Vermont Legislature returned to the Statehouse today to hold a special veto session.

But as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the session lasted less than a minute and it involved just a handful of legislators.

(Symington) “The House will please come to order we have one action to take today I have joint House resolution 81. All those in favor of the resolution please indicate by saying aye. All those opposed, nay. The ayes appear to have the ayes do have it and the House stands in adjournment subject to the provisions to the Joint House resolution 81.”

(Kinzel) With those words, House Speaker Gaye Symington concluded one of the shortest veto sessions in history.

When lawmakers adjourned late last month, one of their final actions was to pass a resolution allowing them to come back to Montpelier in the event that Governor Jim Douglas vetoed any bills.

Douglas did veto 2 pieces of legislation. One holds genetic seed companies liable if their products inadvertently drift to a nearby organic farm and cause damage to the organic crop.

The second bill prohibits discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

It takes a two thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a gubernatorial veto.

Speaker Symington says Democratic leaders concluded that they didn’t have enough votes to override either veto.

So rather than bring all 180 lawmakers back to the Statehouse at a cost of roughly $50,000 dollars a day. Symington said it made more sense to hold a token session formally adjourning the 2006 Legislature.

(Symington) “Given who was going to be present it was clear that there wouldn’t be a change in the outcome. And given that, I think it’s a lot to ask to bring people back for the expense.”

(Kinzel) Symington says the short veto session marks a good way to end what in her mind was a very productive session:

(Symington) “Let’s end the session on a constructive note. We got a lot accomplished in the last 2 years that Vermonters really wanted to work on. Those of us who supported both the GE seeds bill and the non-discrimination bill are on record in that way and stay by our votes and look forward to working to pass that legislation next year.”

(Kinzel) Symington says lawmakers decided to formally adjourn for the year after being assured by the Governor than he has no intention of vetoing any additional bills.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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