Strict new school bus rules have officials, parents looking for alternatives

Also: Seat belt pull-overs, prevention spending, and local revenue and control divide Legislature on commercial cannabis bill

Homeschool applications more than double last year

BLM says Burlington cop should be fired; see incident video

By Guy Page

September 2, 2020 – S54, the proposed commercial cannabis law, now faces more opposition from minority rights activists. Also, a discussion in the House tax committee Tuesday highlighted differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.  

Etan Nasreddin-Longo, a Marboro College professor and former AIDS activist, this week was named the Vermont State Police’s new co-director of fair and impartial policing. He told the Legislature Tuesday it must consider the impact of the proposed commercial marijuana law on minority communities, according to a report in the Bennington Banner

According to today’s Banner, “He also advised lawmakers that they need to listen to the state’s Black and minority communities when making changes to the law, and put processes into place where legislative proposals are all reviewed for how they will impact people of color. One example he cited Tuesday was the Legislature’s attempts to establish the legally taxed and regulated sale of marijuana. ‘The regulation of substances has contributed to the incarceration problem we have nationally,’ Nasreddin-Longo said.”

Justice for All, a minority rights organization led by Mark Hughes of Burlington, and Vermont organic farming groups also has panned S54 for catering to white marijuana business owners without consideration for the financial and legal consequences to Vermont minorities, as reported August 21 by Vermont Daily. 

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Both Senate and House have approved S54, but their versions differ. Some differences came to light in a Sept. 1 meeting of the House Ways & Means Committee, House concerns about the Senate version of S54 include inadequate funding for prevention, and how revenue from local taxes would be allocated. Rep. Dr. George Till (D-Jericho) said he foresees licensing and police funding needs, but the Senate bill doesn’t provide that money up front, but instead relies on sales tax revenue. 

The Senate version of S54 “puts the municipalities in the funny position of rooting for more sales, because that’s more money they will get,” Till said. He prefers the House plan to allow municipalities to spend licensing fees. He and Pat Brennan (R-Colchester) also said he hopes the House will hold firm on a House provision allowing police to pull over drivers seen to not be wearing seat belts. 

Chair Janet Ancel (D-Calais) said the main differences aired in the S54 House/Senate conference committee are the seat belt provisions, and whether towns decide on on allowing commercial cannabis by “opt out” or “opt in.” The House version would require a town to “opt in” if it wants commercial cannabis. The Senate version would automatically allow commercial cannabis unless a town “opts out.”

Strict new school bus rules have officials suggesting students walk, bike or get ride 

The VT Dept. of Health and the Agency of Education have enacted strict new rules (pg. 14) for children waiting for and riding the bus to school. Officials also recommend parents give their kids a ride, or have them walk or bike to school.

New schoolbus regulations, as of August 11, include:

  • Bus windows must be left open except in unusual circumstances. “Students should wear appropriate clothing in the event of cold or drizzly weather.”
  • All students must wear face coverings.
  • Assigned seating is a must.
  • Younger students will be seated near the front of the bus; older kids toward the back.
  • Students from the same household may sit together.
  • More bus stops may be created to minimize the number of students gathering in one place.

In a related issue, True North reporter Mike Bielawski yesterday asked Commissioner Mark Levine about complaints by parents that students are required to wear masks while practicing soccer outdoors. Some students appear to have trouble breathing, Bielawski said. Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the research does not yet show whether masks are a health threat or benefit for children exercising outdoors. 

Homeschooling applications more than double last year

School officials announced at a press conference yesterday that homeschooling applications are expected to top 4000. Homeschooling advocate Retta Dunlap – who will appear live today on VPR at noon – gave Vermont Daily more specific figures yesterday: Enrollments August 2019: 2024. Enrollments as of August 27, 2020: 4,455. Of these the agency has completed processing for: 2,706.

BLM wants Burlington cop Corey Campbell fired – see body cam video of incident

Last year, Douglas Kilburn of Burlington died after taking a swing at Burlington Police Officer Corey Campbell. (Campbell fought back, putting Kilburn in the hospital with injuries.) Now the BLM protesters want him and two other police officers fired.

Did Campbell’s behavior that day in the UVMMC parking lot merit firing? Was his use of profane language a “firing” event? Could he have de-escalated the angry Kilburn? Thanks to body cam video, viewers can see the event and make up their own minds. Warning – plenty of F-bombs dropped in this 2-3 minute version, which focuses on the actual confrontation. Longer versions – which show a lengthy, patient effort by Campbell to get an unwilling Kilburn to move along in his car – also are available online. 

Photo: students wearing masks on commuter train. Vermont school buses also will require students to wear masks on the bus ride to and from school. Also, windows will be open most of the time.

VT Watercooler Comment of the Day:

“If the president doesn’t let us cheat in the election, we’ll just need to attempt a coup.”
Bold stance.

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