By Guy Page
Bills prohibiting teens age 16-17 to marry, requiring public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge, and eliminating license suspension as a punishment for non-payment of traffic fines cleared their respective House committees last week and will go to the full House this week.
H. 148, prohibiting any marriage of 16 and 17 year olds, was voted out of House Judiciary unanimously last week and will go to the House floor this week.
The bill removes the parental consent clause for 16 and 17 year-olds to marry. Instead, it prohibits all marriages under 18. Critics of teen marriage say children must be legally protected from consequences of abuse, economic privation, and divorce. Some critics liken under-age marriage to child sexual assault.
H165, voted out 9-2 of the Committee for Agriculture, Food Resiliency, and Forestry, would require all public schools in Vermont to make available school breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.
It also allows approved independent schools to provide school breakfast and lunch at no charge to students attending on public tuition if the approved independent school participates in federal food programs. The cost of these school meals that is not reimbursed through federal or State funds or other sources would be paid for by an appropriation to the Agency of Education out of the Education Fund.
H53, eliminating suspension of a driver’s license based on nonpayment of civil penalties for moving violations, was approved by House Ways & Means last week and will go to the full House this week. State statistics show that 5500 licenses were suspended last year for non-payment of moving violation fines, up from the previous year but far below the 11,000 high of 2016.