Vermont State House, Montpelier

The Vermont State House in Montpelier.

MONTPELIER – An attempt by Democrats in the Vermont House of Representatives to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of the legislature’s mandatory paid family leave program failed by a single vote Wednesday.

Requiring a supermajority of two-thirds of the House to override a veto, proponents of H.107, the bill creating a mandatory paid family leave plan, fell short of the 100 necessary votes, mustering only 99 votes against 51 representatives who voted against it.

The majority of Franklin County’s legislators again voted against the paid family leave proposal, with only the county’s two registered Democrats – Reps. Charen Fegard, D – Berkshire, and Mike McCarthy, D – St. Albans – voting in favor of the attempted override.

Fegard had previously voted against the paid family leave bill when it last came before the Vermont House of Representatives.

In a statement to the Messenger, Fegard explained she did not have enough information regarding the bill when the House initially elected to send H.107 to the governor’s desk in January.

“I voted against H.107 initially because I had not had enough time to fully study the bill as it came out of the Committee of Conference and I won’t vote for something I don’t understand,” Fegard said. “I finally translated all 57 pages and researched other states’ experiences... [and] recognized the bill was a viable, effective option that would have helped Vermont’s working families, protected our businesses, and helped attract more quality workers to the state.”

If passed, H.107 would have authorized a paid family leave program offering 12 weeks off of work in order to care for a newborn and eight weeks off in order to care for a family member.

The program would have been financially supported through a mandatory 0.2 percent payroll tax that could be voluntarily paid by employers.

A voluntary paid personal sick leave program was also included in H.107, allowing for six weeks of personal leave with a 0.38 percent payroll tax for Vermonters opting into the program.

The House originally sent H.107 to Scott’s desk with 89 votes, with several Democrats, Progressives and independents voting with Republicans against the legislation.

Opposition to the bill generally came from concerns from legislators about the costs of the program and its accompanying payroll tax, reasons later cited by Scott when he vetoed the proposal late last week.

Several Progressives who later switched their vote during Wednesday’s override attempt argued the benefits proposed in H.107 were too modest.

Democrats in the state legislature had considered the passage of a paid family leave program a priority for the current session.

Scott, meanwhile, has proposed a voluntary program that would leverage 8,500 state employees as an initial risk pool and require participating insurance providers to offer the same benefits offered to state employees to individuals and employers interested in tapping into the program.{

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