Editor’s note: This update from our friends at “Take it to the People” was originally to go out in Friday’s edition, but that got delayed do to the need to purchase a new copmputer.
Yesterday, in a surprise move, the Vermont Senate voted in favor of a strike-all amendment to S.77, the “Physician Assisted Suicide” bill. The initial language of the bill was completely eliminated and replaced with language proposed by Senators Galbraith and Hartwell. All thirteen Senators who voted to reject the bill on Tuesday joined Senators Galbraith and Hartwell in voting for the amendment. Since the vote was tied 15 – 15, Lt. Governor Phil Scott cast his vote in favor of the amendment, to break the tie.
Today the Senate worked on S.77’s third and final reading. Senator John Rodgers offered an amendment that would have restored all of the “Physician Assisted Suicide” language. This was an attempt by the pro-suicide folk to regain control of the bill.
Then Senator Ann Cummings offered a “strike all” amendment to the Rodgers’ amendment. This would reset the bill to a version of the alternative language passed on Wednesday.
The Cummings’ amendment received a 15-15 vote and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott broke the tie in Cummings’ favor. Rodgers’ amendment was now Cummings’ amendment and the language looked much like it was at the session’s start.
Now the version that the pro-suicide folks hated was the bill that was voted on for a third and final reading. S.77 now received a 22-8 vote and will travel over to the House in a shortened, defanged and less deadly form.
Some 7 of the pro-suicide folk voted to pass the radically changed bill. The rumor is that Gov. Shumlin instructed them to vote the bill over to the House where it could be “fixed”.
Will the House be able to “fix” S.77 and restore the “Physician Assisted Suicide” language that the Gov. wants passed? Certainly! BUT!!!! If the House makes any “significant” changes to S.77 as passed by the Senate, the bill must go to a “Committee of Conference” to iron out the differences.
Such a committee is made up of 3 Senators and 3 Representatives. The 3 Senators would be chosen by Senators Campbell, Sears and Mazza — all strong opponents of “Physician Assisted Suicide”. In this scenario, S.77 likely dies in committee.
The only way Gov. Shumlin is likely to see any bill this biennium is if the House passes the current version of S.77 unchanged and sends it on to him. Given current political realities, the House leadership is likely to take no real action on S.77 this biennium.