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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

House Democrats Fail To Override Scott's Veto Of Toxics Bill

Angela Evancie
VPR File
House lawmakers were unable to muster the votes needed to override Gov. Phil Scott's veto of a bill dealing with the regulation of toxic chemicals.

The Vermont House has failed to override Governor Phil Scott’s veto of a bill that would have tightened regulations on toxic chemicals used in children’s products.

Democrats Wednesday fell four votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override Scott’s first veto of the 2018 legislative session, due to a united stand by the House Republicans who voted to sustain.

The bill would have given new authority to the commissioner of health to restrict or even ban chemicals used in children’s products. House Minority Leader Don Turner says that authority was far too broad.

“I feel that this change would put too much power in the hands of a single individual, and would make such decisions more arbitrary and potentially much less scientific, legitimate, and surely more political,” Turner said in a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

"When we're talking about toxics chemicals that are of high concerns to children, that's about protecting our kids out there." — Burlington Rep. Mary Sullivan

Supporters of the legislation say it would have improved the likelihood that toxic chemicals are banned before they begin to cause public health problems. They say it also would have given parents easier access to information about potentially hazardous chemicals used in the manufacture of children’s products.

“When we’re talking about toxic chemicals that are of high concerns to children, that’s about protecting our kids out there,” Burlington Rep. Mary Sullivan said.

Brian Shupe, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, called Wednesday’s vote “a bad day for Vermonters.”

“[The bill] would have been a first step toward providing much-needed protections for Vermonters from toxic pollution,” Shupe said in a written statement. “As we saw in Bennington, Vermonters are not immune from exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals.  Governor Scott has chosen industry over vulnerable Vermonters in vetoing [the bill], and unfortunately his veto will stand.”

Scott, however, says existing regulations on toxic chemicals in Vermont are among the most stringent in the nation. He says the legislation would have added unneeded uncertainty to the state’s manufacturing sector, without improving public safety.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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