- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont lawmakers on Thursday evening sustained Gov. Peter Shumlin’s veto of a bill that some believed would have slowed renewable energy development in Vermont, and then replaced the measure with one more to the Democratic governor’s liking.

Shumlin had vetoed a bill Monday designed to give towns and regional planning commissions more say in where wind and solar projects are built. He complained that it set sound standards for wind turbines that were too low, was missing $300,000 in needed funding for the planning and needed other changes.

The bill that ended up passing “delivers two really essential things,” said Sen. Christopher Bray, D-Addison, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee and a key architect of the bill. “It gives greater voice to Vermonters for siting projects. It tackles the sound issue, which has haunted this building for three, four, five, six years.”

The Senate responded to the governor’s veto Thursday by drafting, passing and shipping to the House a new bill with changes intended to address the governor’s concerns. But minority Republicans in the House refused to go along with a procedural vote that needed a three-quarters majority for the replacement bill to come to a vote.

They pressed instead for the Senate to vote to override the governor’s veto, and then send that on to the House.

“After all, that is what we were called in for. So let’s do our job and go home,” said Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe.

The Senate, meanwhile, held its own ace in the hole. Because the bill Shumlin vetoed had started in the Senate, that chamber had to vote before the House on whether to override the veto. The Senate refused to do so until the House voted on its replacement bill. House Republicans refused to do that until the Senate took the veto vote.

In other words, on a special session day that cost taxpayers more than $50,000 to bring lawmakers back to Montpelier more than a month after their regular session ended, it looked around 6 p.m. as if nothing would get done.

But after lawmakers returned from a dinner break, the Senate relented on its earlier demand that the House vote first on the replacement bill. It took up the veto override question and backed Shumlin’s veto by a vote of 20-8. House Republicans then dropped their efforts to block the replacement legislation, and that passed on a voice vote.

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