The governor of Vermont again deflected a question about whether he intends to sign a bill to legalize marijuana sales in the state, suggesting that new racial justice concerns could lead him to veto it and make the legislature take the issue up anew during the next session that begins in January.
During a debate with his challenger, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (D), on Thursday, Gov. Phil Scott (R) said that he needs time to reflect on concerns expressed by certain racial justice groups who are urging him to veto the tax-and-regulate bill that officially arrived on his desk earlier in the day.
The governor has until Wednesday to sign or veto the legislation, and if he takes no action by then it will become law without his signature.
The House and Senate passed differing versions of the bill, S. 54, earlier this session and both approved a new version last month that was put together by a bicameral conference committee that negotiated differences between the two chambers’ proposals. Throughout the process, lawmakers took pains to ensure that Scott’s previously stated concerns with the reform measure—namely around impaired driving, taxes and local control—were largely accounted for before transmitting it to his office.
But while the governor said last month that he was impressed by the legislative process that the bill went through.
“I haven’t been philosophically opposed to the regulation of marijuana, but I had some certain conditions that had to be met in order for me to sign it. They have come a long ways,” Scott reiterated during the debate. “They aren’t perfect, they aren’t everything that I wanted, but they’ve come a long ways.”
But for the second time in the span of just a few days, the governor voiced news concerns about the bill. He also brought