Marijuana legalization and veto voted Vermont’s top story
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s Legislature became the first legislative body in the country to vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in May, but the step was blocked weeks later when the bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
The move by the Legislature and the governor’s veto were voted Vermont’s top story of 2017 by a survey of Vermont reporters and editors of news organizations that belong to The Associated Press news cooperative.
Scott’s objections to the marijuana bill passed by the Legislature were practical and not philosophical. It’s expected Vermont lawmakers will take up the issue again when they return to the Statehouse next month to begin the 2018 legislative session.
Other states that have approved recreational marijuana did so by citizen initiative.
Here are the other stories voted into the top 10:
2. SCOTT TAKES OVER
Scott took office in January , succeeding Democrat Peter Shumlin. Scott, the former lieutenant governor, lawmaker and the owner of a small construction business who is also an accomplished stock car driver, said the focus of his time as Vermont’s chief executive would be to make state more affordable and promote the creation of good jobs to help halt the exodus of young people from the state.
3. JANE O’MEARA SANDERS
Sanders, the wife of former presidential candidate and independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, continued to be in the news for her role as the president of the now-defunct Burlington College . Federal authorities are said to be looking into the finances behind a real estate deal that burdened the tiny college with debt, helping to lead to its demise. Sen. Sanders has said he felt the investigation was politically motivated.
4. JAY PEAK SKI RESORT FRAUD
The fallout of the $200 million Jay Peak ski resort fraud case continues to reverberate. Raymond James Financial Inc. reached a nearly $150 million settlement. Ski resort owner Ariel Quiros reached a tentative settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to court documents, although the details have not been released. US Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to close Vermont’s regional immigrant investor center and a number of other lawsuits remain pending.
5. RETIREMENT COMMUNITY RICIN
In November, federal authorities descended on the upscale Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne after learning a resident had manufactured the poison ricin from castor beans found growing nearby. Betty Miller, 70, who has an extensive mental health history, told investigators she wanted to harm herself and tested the effectiveness of the poison on fellow residents by placing it in their food or drinks. She was indicted this month by a federal grand jury on a charge of knowingly possessing “an unregistered select agent, namely ricin.” The case remains pending.
6. JODY HERRING CASE
Herring, the woman who in 2015 shot and killed state social worker Lara Sobel and three of Herring’s family members out of anger that she lost custody of her then 9-year-old daughter, pleaded guilty in July. She was sentenced in November to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
7. MURRAY AT MIDDLEBURY
In March, author Charles Murray , known for the 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” which some say improperly links intelligence to race, was shouted down during an appearance at Vermont’s Middlebury College. In a melee that followed, Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was injured. Afterward dozens of students were disciplined by the college. The episode became part of a broader national dialogue about the role of the First Amendment and free speech on the nation’s college campuses.
8. TREATMENT CENTER CLOSES
In January, the Underhill Maple Leaf Treatment Center, at the time one of three residential treatment centers in the state, closed. While it was thought it could re-open, the center later filed for bankruptcy. In August court documents showed the center was being investigated for possible Medicaid fraud.
9. MASCOT NAME CHANGE
In February, the South Burlington school board voted to change the name of the high school mascot “Rebels ” because of the name’s connection to the Confederacy. The move angered some alumni and parents who felt the change was unnecessary. The furor was blamed for the defeat of two school budgets. Students later chose the mascot “Wolves” to replace “Rebels.”
10. SANDERS’ PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT
Sanders, who failed in his bid to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, continues to lead the nation’s progressive movement . Sanders has not yet said whether he will seek re-election to the Senate in 2018 or run again for the presidency in 2020.