Republican Gov. Phil Scott delivered the annual state-of-the-state address to a joint session of the Vermont House and Senate on Thursday after a group of climate activists forced a brief adjournment by shouting down the governor shortly after he took the podium.
The activists started shouting slogans and what sounded like a manifesto about 90 seconds into the governor’s speech. Scott listened politely for about 5 minutes, before asking lawmakers gathered for the address, “Have you had enough?”
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman then stepped to the podium and gaveled the chamber into recess while police removed 16 protesters from the chamber without incident. The speech was delayed for about 20 minutes.
One person, identified as Henry Harris, 41, of Peacham, Vermont, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct. The remaining individuals were released on verbal no-trespass orders.
In his address, the governor outline his priorities for the 2020 legislative session, which started Tuesday. He said lawmakers need to focus on Vermont’s ongoing demographic challenge. He said that, compared with 2000, today there are 55,000 few people in Vermont under the age of 45 and 44,000 more over the age of 65.
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said Tuesday that lawmakers will debate a medical monitoring bill, a measure to raise the minimum wage and expanded paid family and medical leave. The legislature is also expected to consider a tax-and-regulate scheme for recreational marijuana.
Scott is scheduled to give a separate budget address later this month in which he will outline his spending priorities.