Scott off guard

Phil Scott has won a reputation over the years as being a pretty diplomatic guy. Tactful. Even-keeled. Gets along well with others.

His delicacy was on display last Thursday, when a gaggle of tourists wandered onto the Senate floor.

The chamber had recently emptied out after a long floor debate and Scott, still standing at the dais from which he presides over the body, was kind of enough to field a few questions from the curious crowd. Top of mind for the group: the alleged “dysfunction” in the Senate they’d read about recently.

The lieutenant governor thought a moment before reflecting on the lengthy, contentious flood debates that have characterized this year’s session.

“I think it’s an indication – pause – we have different – longer pause – it’s unique,” Scott finally said. “We have a lot of people here from all different walks of life. We have a trial attorney, we have a professor from UVM, we have a former ambassador from Croatia,” Scott said, referring to Sens. Joe Benning, Philip Baruth and Peter Galbraith.

The three senators belong to a loquacious class of freshmen legislators that has been cited by Senate President John Campbell as one of the reasons for the perceived chaos in the chamber.

At this point in the conversation, Scott got a well-timed assist from Steve Marshall, assistant Senate secretary.

“Some very strong minded-individuals,” Marshall said.

Scott: “And they want to be heard”

Marshall: “And they are.”

Scott: “And some don’t always understand the rules of the Senate, so when they get trampled on a bit, other people bring up points of order.”

The long and the short of it, Scott said, is that “the debate has been unlike any I’ve seen over last 10 years.”