Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation last week that would have prohibited police from publicly identifying individuals under the age of 19 arrested for certain crimes.
The veto was Scott’s 21st since taking office. He now ties former Gov. Howard Dean for issuing the most vetoes in state history.
The bill, S.107, would have allowed law enforcement to release initial arrest information of those 19 and younger only if they were charged as adults for any Big 12 offenses, such as murder, sexual assault or aggravated assault.
Identifying information would not be released for those charged with other crimes — including motor vehicle crashes in which someone was killed — if the alleged perpetrator was likely to face juvenile proceedings in family court. That age threshold would have increased to 20 next year if the bill became law. The legislation would, however, have allowed the release of names in matters affecting public safety.
For decades, the names of teenage drivers involved in accidents, including fatal crashes, were disclosed by police.
But following a fatal crash last September in which a 16-year old from Atlanta crossed the center line while driving on Route 7 and killed a Ferrisburgh couple, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling halted that practice, citing conflicting state laws.
Lawmakers had worked on S.107 this session in hopes of clearing up that uncertainty.
But in his veto message, Scott said he did not believe the proposal clarified the state’s public records laws and expressed concern over continuing to raise the age by which those charged with crimes receive protections meant for juveniles in the state’s criminal justice system.