Vermont Legislators are proposing and committees are reviewing bills with a focus on the budget and the impact of the pandemic. Numerous groups including the House Progressive Caucus are lobbying legislators in a virtual world to address their priorities.
The Vermont Legislature adjourned late last Friday night until August. This week, the House Speaker and finance committee chairs discussed how federal COVID-19 recovery funds have been appropriated and what work remains.
The Vermont Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee is holding daily teleconferences to discuss key legislative and coronavirus concerns. Members heard from agency heads Tuesday about the latest emergency management and public safety challenges.
Voices for Vermont’s Children, a group that has been advocating for the state to pass and implement a paid family leave bill, announced on Monday it will not support the bill currently in the legislature.
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.
Last week, the Vermont Senate adjourned and with that, the legislature ended the session until January. The first half of the biennium was marked by a number of controversial bills but ended with two key pieces of legislation left unfinished.
The Vermont House Committee on Energy and Technology held a hearing Tuesday evening on three bills related to fossil fuel infrastructure in the state. Most of those commenting during the hearing urged the lawmakers to approve the bills and move them to the House floor.
Debate over reproductive rights in Vermont has moved from the state Senate to the House. The House Committee on Human Services held a public hearing on Proposition 5 Wednesday evening. The two-hour session to take comment on a proposed change to the state constitution comes two weeks after the state Senate gave initial approval to the measure.
It is crossover week at the Statehouse in Montpelier - a time when Vermont lawmakers scramble to finish legislation so it can move to the other chamber for consideration. If a bill does not crossover it’s unlikely to survive the session. Hearings this week included the Senate Judiciary Committee going to the Vermont Technical College to take comments on a new firearms bill. It’s one of the measures that Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe is highlighting for completion this week. The Democrat/Progressive says the key provision in the bill is a waiting period for purchasing a firearm.
On Town Meeting Day, three towns in Vermont approved non-binding resolutions calling on their communities to ban the use of plastic bags. Other towns in the state had previously passed similar measures. Sponsors of a bill in the Vermont Senate hope this week’s support will lead to progress in the Statehouse for their proposal.