Vermont Senate Pro Tem Democrat Tim Ashe Discusses Upcoming Session Priorities
The Vermont Legislature will begin the second half of its biennium on January 7th. When it gavels into session, the Democratically controlled chambers will take up vetoes that Republican Governor Phil Scott penned along with other measures that the House or Senate failed to complete before adjourning in May. Vermont Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe of Chittenden County tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley that the theme for the upcoming session is similar to the last one.
“I think going into the session, you know, the overarching themes tend to be the same: making progress on environment, housing, cost of living and so on, making the most progressive forward thinking legislation that we can get done. We have the paid family leave and minimum wage bills, which were very close to being finalized back in May and hope to have both of those bills to the governor within the first month, or just over a month, of the session. We have a couple bills that were vetoed by the governor that we have to figure out what we're going to do with. One of them is particularly relevant in the southwestern corner of Vermont and this relates to medical monitoring. We passed a bill that would basically protect Vermonters who have been poisoned by industrial pollutants from bearing the full health care costs associated with something which they had nothing to do with in the first place. That bill got vetoed by Governor Scott and we're going to have to try to muster up the votes to override that veto. The governor also vetoed gun safety legislation which would have created a modest waiting period for purchase of handguns and made some changes to what we call the red flag law, which helps get the guns out of the hands of people who might be considering suicide or in other ways indicating that they might commit acts of violence using guns. So we got to figure out a plan moving forward on gun safety legislation and we are determined to do that. A few other areas. There are carry over issues but with new themes this year. Working on the state's environmental performance. We're very eager to see the continued work around the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which is the 12 state discussion that includes New York and Vermont and basically all of New England and the Atlantic, Mid Atlantic, which would cut the amount of carbon emissions regionally from transportation. We've got some major work to do on criminal justice issues.”
An extended conversation with Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Democrat Tim Ashe is here: