The gears of the Legislature are grinding away. Lawmakers are in committee this time of year taking testimony and getting legal advice from legislative counsel as they mull over changes to Vermont statutes.
Major proposals, such as the opiate bill, timely mental health treatment and tax legislation are slowly wending their way through the process.
Sure to move through committees this week? Paid sick leave provisions for workers, a bill that would regulate the siting of wind turbines and other energy generation assets, changes to the open meetings law and a bill that would ban cellphone use while driving.
The Vermont Senate and the House will take up smaller bills on the floor this week, including final approval of the Budget Adjustment Act, which passed the Senate last week, a bill that would negate parental rights for rapists, a repeal of a long outdated abortion law, a compost bill (H.542), and a planning law that would promote growth centers.
Which is to say, the session has a long way to go. The pace hasn’t reached a fever pitch yet, largely because lawmakers have plenty of time before crossover day. The deadline for passage of bills out of committees in the Senate and the House — is more than a month away. (The date has been set for March 14.)
Items of note this week:
Michael Sirotkin, the widower of Sen. Sally Fox, will be sworn in on Tuesday. Sirotkin left his lobbying practice and divested his financial interest in Sirotkin and Necrason shortly after he decided to take the seat.
H.640, the government operations technical corrections bill, could spark fireworks in the House this week. The legislation includes a provision correcting an error in the effective date for S.82, the campaign finance bill that the governor recently signed into law. Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, has proposed an amendment that would lower the amount parties could receive from individuals and corporations and raise the contribution limits for parties to candidates.
Nine legislative committees will hold a legislative briefing 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Room 11 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Representatives from the EPA will present their response to Vermont’s water quality proposal, H.586, for cleaning up phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain.
Tom Sullivan, the president of UVM, will meet with a joint hearing of the Senate and House education committees on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Ethan Allen Room.