Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s legal counsel told lawmakers that the bill to legalize adult-use sales in the state violates the state Constitution because it doesn’t allow governors the authority to determine the makeup of the panel to regulate the industry, VTDigger reports.
Under the law, passed last month by the Senate, the governor would only appoint the board’s chair, but the governor’s counsel Jaye Pershing Johnson said the state Constitution provided the governor with the power to appoint all of the members of the board.
“When the Legislature decides they will both create the laws and structure the entities in such a way so as to divest the governor of his constitutional duty, that’s where I say that there’s a separation of powers concern.” – Johnson, to VTDigger
Vermont governors do appoint all of the members of the state Board of Liquor and Lottery.
Betsyann Wrask, an attorney with the office of Legislative Council, disagrees with Johnson’s interpretation, arguing the state Constitution “does not state that an Executive Branch entity,” such as the Cannabis Control Board, “cannot be comprised of a majority of legislative appointees.”
Scott, a Republican who has vetoed legislation based on separation of powers issues in the past, indicated last week he believed he needed more control over the board if it would be an executive branch function. He also promised not to sign the regulation measure if it didn’t include roadside saliva testing, but he didn’t go so far to say he would veto it.