This post was written before the Senate’s final vote. I’ve updated it below to include that action.
At today’s gubernatorial press conference, it was inevitable that the death with dignity debate would come up. Specifically, Wednesday’s maneuver by Sen. Peter Galbraith (D-Asshat) in which he gutted the existing bill and substituted his own version, which would simply indemnify any doctor who prescribes a lethal dose to a patient.
Shumlin reiterated his strong support of the original bill, and offered some tough criticism of Galbraith’s substitution (without naming any names):
The bill that the Senate first discussed… is very carefully crafted. It follows the Oregon model. It’s not reinventing the wheel. I think when you pass an amendment that’s not thought out, that’s written on the fly, that you’re going to get unintended consequences that don’t put the protections in place that Vermonters feel strongly about. So I support the bill as it was originally introduced. I’m hopeful that the Senate will send it over to the House so the Speaker and the sensible House can put it back in shape.
Sensible House, insensible Senate?
When asked if he was calling for Senate passage of the Galbraith bill, he said yes:
I want to see the bill come to my desk, and I think the best likelihood for it to come to my desk in a smarter and more compassionate and more thoughtful form would be to let the House take a look at it.
For “take a look at it,” read “dump the Galbraith bill and go back to the original.”
Well, the House will get the chance to do just that.
This afternoon, the Senate approved the revised bill on a 15-15 vote with Lt. Gov Phil Scott casting the tiebreaker in favor. Just as he did yesterday. Scott, it should be noted, is an opponent of death with dignity.
Anyway, so the bill goes to the House. Supporters of the concept, like Gov. Shumlin, are hoping the House will undo Galbraith’s version and return the bill to its original form, or something close to it.
And if that happens, the two versions would have to be reconciled.