By Guy Page
Bills up for House committee review this week would encourage home visitation by school workers, allow candidates to spend campaign money on personal expenses, let a judge order police to take away firearms, study a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for Vermont, promote BIPOC home ownership, and reimburse farmers for crop damage caused by black bears.
12:30 pm Corrections and Institutions will discuss S18, limiting ‘good time’ sentence reductions for the most serious crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, arson, sexual assault, child sex crimes, and other serious offenses. This bill amends a ‘good time’ bill passed last year, and addresses concerns by sponsor Sen. Richard Sears and others about universal sentence reduction.
1 pm, General, Housing and Military Affairs will discuss J.R.H. 2, “sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices.”
Beginning at 1 pm, House Education will discuss H106, the “community schools” bill that would help low-income students by removing “out of school” barriers to learning. Community schools work with social services and law enforcement to address the whole needs of the child, including family, substance abuse, hunger, trauma, etc. Home visitation is among the suggested strategies.
At 3:15 pm, Government Operations will discuss H10, allowing a candidate to “spend campaign funds on expenses necessary to allow a candidate to campaign, such as expenses for the care of a dependent family.” A short list of prohibited expenses is included. The sole sponsor is Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, chair of Government Operations.
This bill would appear to allow fundraising and expenditure of campaign money on some daily living expenses of the candidate, “such as” but not limited to childcare and eldercare. This bill could be especially attractive to lawmakers who face little competition yet are able to raise funds from interest groups.
Tuesday afternoon and all week, Human Services will review H171, governance and funding of childcare.
Tuesday afternoon, Judiciary will resume review of H133, allowing a judge to order police to take away the guns of a person subject to a relief from abuse court order.
10:30 am, Gov’t Operations will review H227, the proposed City of Winooski charter change allowing non-citizen voting in local elections.
2:45 pm, Agriculture and Natural Resources will discuss H67, authorizing farmers “to seek compensation from the Department of Fish and Wildlife for damage by a black bear to crops, fruit trees, or crop-bearing plants.” Louis Porter, Commissioner, Department of Fish and Wildlife is scheduled to testify.
At 3:15, Gov’t Operations will review and possibly vote on H196, adding staff to the Vermont Director of Racial Equity.
In the afternoon, General, Housing and Military Affairs will discuss H96, establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission study task force. Sponsored by Representatives Christie of Hartford, Colston of Winooski, Stevens of Waterbury, Cina of Burlington, Copeland Hanzas of Bradford, LaClair of Barre Town, LaLonde of South Burlington, Lippert of Hinesburg, Long of Newfane, and Redmond of Essex, H96 creates a task force to develop “legislation to create one or more truth and reconciliation commissions to examine and begin the process of dismantling institutional, structural, and systemic discrimination in Vermont, both past and present.”
The Truth and Reconcilation movement began after the downfall of apartheid in South Africa, to peacefully address its wrongs. A modern-day movement in the U.S., with a focus on law enforcement, has set up similar commissions in San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia.
Later that afternoon, the committee will discuss H 232, promoting BIPOC land and home ownership and economic opportunity (Rep. Katherine Sims D-Craftsbury), and H 273, promoting racial and social equity in land access and property ownership. H232 would provide housing and land purchase funding for disadvantaged populations, including BIPOC, through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. H273 would do likewise, but has a more “progressive” tone and would create a new Vermont Land Access and Opportunity board and fund.
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