On May 20, Governor Scott signed bills of the following titles:
- H.421, An act relating to animal cruelty investigation response and training
- S.1, An act relating to extending the baseload renewable power portfolio requirement
- S.66, An act relating to electric bicycles
- S.102, An act relating to the regulation of agricultural inputs for farming
- S.124, An act relating to miscellaneous utility subjects
On May 20, Governor Scott returned without signature and vetoed S.107, An act relating to confidential information concerning the initial arrest and charge of a juvenile, and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:
May 20, 2021
The Honorable John Bloomer, Jr.
Secretary of the Senate
115 State House
Montpelier, VT 05633-5401
Dear Mr. Bloomer:
Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning S.107, An act relating to confidential information concerning the initial arrest and charge of a juvenile, without my signature, because of concerns with the policy to automatically raise the age of accountability for crimes, and afford young adults protections meant for juveniles, without adequate tools or systems in place.
Three years ago, I signed legislation intended to give young adults who had become involved in the criminal justice system certain protections meant for juveniles. At the time, I was assured that, prior to the automatic increases in age prescribed in the bill, plans would be in place to provide access to the rehabilitation, services, housing and other supports needed to both hold these young adults accountable and help them stay out of the criminal justice system in the future.
This has not yet been the case. In addition to ongoing housing challenges, programs designed and implemented for children under 18 are often not appropriate for those over 18. Disturbingly, there are also reports of some young adults being used – and actively recruited – by older criminals, like drug traffickers, to commit crimes because of reduced risk of incarceration, potentially putting the young people we are trying to protect deeper into the criminal culture and at greater risk.
I want to be clear: I’m not blaming the Legislature or the Judiciary for these gaps. All three branches of government need to bring more focus to this issue if we are going to provide the combination of accountability, tools and services needed to ensure justice and give young offenders a second chance.
For these reasons, I believe we need to take a step back and assess Vermont’s “raise the age” policy, the gaps that exist in our systems and the unintended consequences of a piecemeal approach on the health and safety of our communities, victims and the offenders we are attempting to help. I see S.107 as deepening this piecemeal approach.
I also remain concerned with the lack of clarity in S.107 regarding the disparity in the public records law between the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Based on the objections outlined above, I am returning this legislation without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution. I believe this presents an opportunity to start a much-needed conversation about the status of our juvenile justice initiatives and make course corrections where necessary, in the interest of public safety and the young Vermonters we all agree need an opportunity to get back on the right path.
Philip B. Scott