by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Monday evening, Governor Phil Scott signed into law the abortion rights bill, as well as several other pieces of legislation passed by the Legislature. But he vetoed the 24-hour gun purchase waiting period bill, S169. The governor had signed gun measures last year and said then and since that he did not envision the need for further gun safety measures. The governor had to act by the end of Monday or the gun bill would have become law without his signature.
The Legislature did not schedule a veto session and thus will not have the opportunity to override this or any other veto action taken by Scott until it reconvenes next January. The gun measure did not have a veto-proof majority when it passed the House in May.
The gun waiting period bill was intended to allow for a "cooling off period" because of data suggesting that it could prevent suicide. Opponents of the bill said it infringed on constitutional rights and affected the legitimate purchase of firearms, especially at gun shows or online.
In vetoing S.169, an act relating to firearms procedures, Scott made the following statement: “Last year, I called for and signed a package of historic gun safety reforms because I believe they make schools, communities, families and individuals safer, while upholding Vermonters’ constitutional rights.
“Over the last year, among other gun safety measures, we have established:
- Mandatory background check requirements;
- Extreme risk protection orders, giving families tools to remove guns from those who may harm themselves or others;
- The ability of law enforcement to remove firearms from those accused of domestic violence; and
- Requirements increasing the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21.
“With these measures in place, we must now prioritize strategies that address the underlying causes of violence and suicide. I do not believe S.169 addresses these areas.
“Moving forward, I ask the Legislature to work with me to strengthen our mental health system, reduce adverse childhood experiences, combat addiction and provide every Vermonter with hope and economic opportunity.”
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson issued the following statement Tuesday morning: “I’m deeply disappointed that Governor Scott vetoed the gun violence prevention bill. Had it become law, this public health and safety measure would have prevented impulsive acts of self-harm and violence. Many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis and 90%(1) of firearm suicide attempts result in death. Instituting a short waiting period would allow the heated moment to pass and help to prevent the tragedy of suicide.
“Vetoing this compromise bill makes the Governor responsible for ending certain shooting competitions important to sportsmen and sportswomen in Vermont. In addition to curbing impulsive suicides, the House and Senate in S.169 provided responsible gun owners reasonable exemptions to allow scheduled and future shooting competitions to continue. Without this compromise bill, those will not be allowed after July 1. The vetoed bill would have also provided clarity on the transfer of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices and their use by law enforcement. These provisions were important to many responsible Vermont gun owners and shooting competition organizers.
“It is clear that the Governor’s disengaged approach to policy is not working for Vermont or for Vermonters. I hope to see him engage with lawmakers as legislation is developed next session.”
(1. A. Elnour and J. Harrison, “Lethality of Suicide Methods,” Inj Prev 14 (2008): 39-45, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18245314)
The abortion rights bill, H57, an act relating to preserving the right to abortion, was a companion bill to an abortion rights constitutional amendment, which also passed but still must be approved by the 2021-2022 Legislature on its long journey to being enacted.
The governor made the following statement on H57: “Like many Vermonters, I have consistently supported a woman’s right to choose, which is why today I signed H.57 into law. This legislation affirms what is already allowable in Vermont – protecting reproductive rights and ensuring those decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider. I know this issue can be polarizing, so I appreciate the respectful tone and civility from all sides throughout this discussion.”
Additional actions are outlined below.
S.7, An act relating to social service integration with Vermont’s health care system
S.31, An act relating to informed health care financial decision making and the consent policy for the Vermont Health Information Exchange
S.41, An act relating to regulating entities that administer tax-advantaged accounts for health-related expenses
S.73, An act relating to licensure of ambulatory surgical centers
S.112, An act relating to earned good time
S.131, An act relating to insurance and securities
S.134, An act relating to background investigations for State employees with access to federal tax information
H.132, An act relating to adopting protections against housing discrimination for victims of domestic and sexual violence
H.135, An act relating to the authority of the Agency of Digital Services
H.292, An act relating to miscellaneous natural resources and energy subjects
H.508, An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Bennington
H.514, An act relating to miscellaneous tax provisions
On June 4, 2019, Governor Scott signed a bill of the following title:
H.536, An act relating to education finance
Yesterday, H. 57 was signed into law by Vermont Governor Phil Scott. This law preserves the right to reproductive health services like abortion and ensures that no government entity can infringe upon or restrict that right.
James Duff Lyall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, said: “We celebrate the passage of H.57 as an affirmation of Vermonters’ longstanding commitment to reproductive liberty and personal autonomy. At a time of unprecedented attacks on abortion rights, this historic legislation sends a powerful message that efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade do not reflect our values, and that we will continue to defend reproductive freedom for all.
We thank the thousands of Vermonters who spoke out in support of H.57, the countless individuals who came forward to share their personal stories, all of the legislators who worked to see this critical legislation through, and Governor Scott for signing it into law. Thanks to them, the people of this state will continue to have the freedom to define their own path without government interference or intrusion into their private decisions.
This is a tremendous, collective victory for all Vermonters, and the ACLU – together with our partners, members, and supporters – is proud to have joined in it. We look forward to building on the incredible momentum generated by H.57 to see that Vermont becomes the first state in the country to finally enshrine these fundamental rights in its state constitution.”
Chloé White, policy director of the ACLU of Vermont, said: “We all want to live in a country where people are free to make their own decisions about what is best for themselves and their families. When the right to an abortion is secure, people and families thrive, and we build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and equality. Those are exactly the values H.57 affirms. The ACLU of Vermont applauds the many individuals and organizations, legislative champions, and Governor Scott who made this historic win possible amidst an all-out assault on reproductive rights across the country. Standing together, we will lead this state and this country forward to a new and better day.”
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
The landmark abortion rights bill became state law today, protecting Vermonters’ right to access safe, legal abortion. The passage of ‘An Act Relating to Preserving the Right to Abortion’ (H.57) ensures that Vermonters are able to make private medical decisions with their health care providers, without interference from politicians. Governor Phil Scott signed H.57 into law today at the State House in Montpelier.
The bill was designed to protect abortion access through changes in the state statute in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Statement from Meagan Gallagher, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
“For our patients at Planned Parenthood health care is personal, not political. Protecting abortion rights in Vermont became a reality thanks to the powerful stories that our courageous patients shared in their testimony and letters to lawmakers.
“Each and every day we see proof that abortion rights are on the line, and we cannot risk the threats to abortion access that we’re anticipating at the U.S. Supreme Court. We applaud the tireless and thoughtful efforts of Vermont’s House and Senate members for passing this historic and common sense bill to ensure that reproductive rights are protected in Vermont, no matter what happens in Washington, D.C. We applaud Governor Scott for supporting reproductive rights and for taking action to preserve these rights in Vermont law.”
‘An Act Relating to Preserving the Right to Abortion’ (H.57) received overwhelming support in both chambers of the Vermont legislature. Until today, Vermont had no law affirmatively protecting abortion rights, and in practice, abortion access in Vermont has been legal due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court is certain to have the opportunity as soon as this year to impact patients’ health and rights. There are currently dozens of cases on abortion and reproductive health that are one step away from the Supreme Court. Any one of the abortion-related cases could result in the Court overturning, dismantling, or severely eroding reproductive rights, making it critically necessary that Vermonters’ access to safe and legal abortion is protected.
Vermont Right to Life Committee
Gov. Phil Scott announced that he will sign H.57, the unlimited, unregulated abortion bill into law.
“By putting his signature on H. 57, Governor Phil Scott endorses unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy." stated Mary Hahn Beerworth, Executive Director of Vermont Right to Life. "His signature signals his preference for protecting the business of abortion over other life-affirming options in Vermont statute,” continued Beerworth.
While Scott has always called himself pro-choice, throughout the years he has expressed support for parental involvement legislation for minor daughters considering an abortion, concern for abortions occurring in the later in months of pregnancy, and shielding taxpayers from funding them. With his signature, Gov. Scott has rejected any regulation of abortion, abortionists, and abortion clinics, including measures to protect the health and safety of girls and women. Scott has embraced without reservation the agenda of the powerful pro-abortion lobby.
While abortion advocates claim that H.57 merely codifies current abortion practice in Vermont, that is not true. "H. 57 goes beyond Roe v. Wade, and may well be the most radical anti-life law in the nation." stated Sharon Toborg, Policy Analyst for Vermont Right to Life. "H.57 grants abortion providers and clinics the right to sue the State if they are not allowed to establish a new abortion practice in Vermont. Unlike providers of any other medical procedure, H. 57 grants abortion providers this private right of action against the State."
After the roll-call votes in the House and Senate displaying the power of the pro-abortion super-majority, it was apparent that H. 57 would become law. However, by putting his signature on H. 57 Governor Phil Scott has capitulated to the demands of the abortion lobby. Going forward, Gov. Scott shares responsibility for harm to girls and women, rising numbers of abortion in Vermont, as well as the violent harm done to unborn children.
Source: Governor. Montpelier, 6.10.2019