Also on this week’s House committee agendas: eugenics apology, contraception, homeless bill of rights, commercial cannabis, ‘good cause’ for firing employees, global warming solutions, legal prostitution, EV subsidies for bicycles, captions in movie theaters, pet license plates
By Guy Page
February 3, 2020 – H670, giving cities and towns the power to exercise rent control, will be discussed Friday morning in the House Government Operations Committee of the Vermont House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Reps. Curt McCormack (D-Burlington) and Brian Cina (P-Burlington), H670 would add rent hike increases to the list of rental housing powers already in municipal control, such as lighting, heat, electricity, health standards, and security deposits.
Every bill and report under House committee review this week can be seen here. Other bills of note include:
Joint House Resolution 7, an apology for ‘state-sanctioned and eugenically-inspired sterilization,’ Tuesday morning in House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee. Nancy Gallagher, author of “Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State,” is scheduled to testify. Her 1999 book outlines how almost 100 years ago Vermont UVM professors and lawmakers conspired to pass and enforce laws causing the forced sterilization of Vermont minorities, including Abenaki Indians and French-Canadians.
H752, authorizing pharmacists to dispense contraceptives without prescription, sponsored by UVM Associate Professor of Medicine and practicing physician Dr. George Till (D-Underhill); and, H663 (lead sponsor Frances McFaun, R-Barre Town), expanding access to contraceptives, including public school students as young as 12; both bills Wednesday morning in Human Services.
A Vermont Daily Chronicle news story on H663 last week elicited this comment from Sharon Toborg, Vermont Right to Life Policy Analyst: “This bill would in fact mandate that all over-the counter contraceptives – included the ultra-high hormone morning after pill – be available to all secondary school students. Those students could be 12 years old or possibly younger. And nothing in the bill would protect the parent’s right to know.”
H492, the Homeless Bill of Rights, will receive testimony from retail and business organizations Thursday in House General. Bill sponsor and Committee Chair Tom Stevens has already taken some testimony on H492, including some he termed “cranky” in a brief State House cafeteria interview. The bill would ensure equal access to housing, employment and state benefits, but also would protect hanging out on the street and panhandling.
H688, Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), Wednesday in House Energy & Technology will be the subject of testimony from the managers of the Massachusetts GWSA. A business advocate in Massachusetts reported the following to Vermont Daily Chronicle about the Bay State’s GWSA, passed in 2008:
“The GWS is used to justify every crazy idea. We need stronger building codes, we need all houses to be solar ready, all to meet the goals…… Bottom line, the GWSA is used to justify everything.”
H851, requiring “good cause” for job termination, will be discussed Thursday in House General. Many Vermont workers now may be fired “at will” of their employers. This bill would eliminate “at will” and require employers to show “good cause.” Lead sponsor is progressive Democrat Emilie Kornheiser of Brattleboro.
H464, data collection on police use of force in traffic stops and requiring de-escalation training, will be discussed Thursday in House Gov Ops. Lead sponsor is Cina of Burlington.
H568, study of legalization of prostitution, will be discussed Tuesday in House Judiciary. Also in Judiciary – H610, seizure of firearms in cases of domestic violence, and H579 and H580, classification of property crimes. If value of property is less than $10,000, it would be a misdemeanor; above that total, a felony.
H312, limited required captioning in movie theaters, Friday in Human Services.
House Transportation will discuss electric vehicles all week, including reviewing on Friday H765, expanding EV incentives to electric-powered bicycles.
H907, pet vehicle registration plate, proceeds to benefit Vermont Spay Neuter Incentive Program (VSNIP) and expansion of VSNIP to cover rabbits, Thursday in House Transportation.
S54, Commercial Cannabis – House Ways & Means will take up the controversial ‘tax and regulate’ marijuana bill Tuesday afternoon. Ways and Means typically addresses the amount of the tax rate, and who will collect it.