House Discord: Speaker Finds Harmony Doesn’t Last

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The House’s unanimous vote last week on the annual tax bill and its unanimous-but-for-one balloting on the budget bill tells you something about the chamber’s new speaker.

So does the House’s action a few days later to ship the much-anticipated marijuana legalization bill off to a committee for further review.

Unanimity on fiscal matters is what happens when the chamber elects a former House Appropriations Committee chair as speaker, especially one hell-bent on producing collaborative budgets. Spending bills are in Speaker Mitzi Johnson‘s wheelhouse.

But policy bills with political reverberations, such as the marijuana legislation? Those are new territory for the South Hero Democrat.

Three months into the job of overseeing the 150-member chamber, Johnson concedes that she is most comfortable immersing herself in the minutiae of state spending.

“The budget is what I’m most familiar with,” she says. “For me, the tougher ones are the policies that never made it to Appropriations. The things I need to spend more time on are the things that haven’t required appropriations.”


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