By Guy Page
Friday, March 19 the Vermont House approved the expanded sale of raw unpasteurized milk after refusing an amendment to require bacteria testing. It also approved three spending bills aimed at improving public school learning and facilities.
These House bills received final approval and were sent to the Senate:
H. 218 – expanding the sale of unpasteurized raw milk. An amendment by Reps. Rosenquist of Georgia and Hango of Berkshire to have milk tested for salmonella and other germs prior to delivery to farm stand or CSA was defeated 15-81.
H. 101 – allocates $800,000 for grants to school districts to implement sustainable literacy.
H. 106 – allocates $1.5 million for “equitable access to a high-quality education through community schools.” Community schools have an enhanced social work component and community engagement program to provide counseling, family conflict resolution, criminal justice advocacy, weekend and summer programs, substance abuse assistance, etc. as a means of helping struggling children do better in school. The long list of potential services includes home visitation by teachers and other professionals.
H. 426 allocates about $3 million to sets standards for upgrading public school facilities and requires school districts to design and implement a five-year capital building plan.
H. 434 establishes the Agricultural Innovation Board to replace the Pesticide Advisory Council and make recommendations for implementation of recommendations of the Soil Health and Payment for the Ecosystem Services Working Group, the Vermont Climate Council, and other relevant recommendations. The Agricultural Innovation Board would also recommend practices that reduce the use of and exposure to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
The House gave preliminary approval to:
H. 313, miscellaneous changes in alcohol beverage laws.
H. 431, requires prompt reporting and investigation of energy utility accidents, exempts utility cybersecurity from the Public Records Act, gives power storage facilities a development, regulatory, and interconnection status similar to power generation or transmission facilities; and gives the Town of Vernon another member on the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel while making other community representation optional. This is likely due to the decreased threat of radiation discharge to the surrounding area, and the increased focus on redeveloping the site for the Town of Vernon.
Also, S. 107, keeping confidential information concerning the initial arrest and charge of a juvenile, was received from the Senate and sent to House Judiciary.
S. 7, expanding access to expungement and sealing of criminal history records, sent to House Judiciary.
S. 78, binding interest arbitration for employees of the Vermont Judiciary, sent to General, Housing, and Military Affairs.
On Thursday, the House gave final approval to:
H. 87, establishing a classification system for criminal offenses
H. 145, amending the standards for law enforcement use of force
H. 154, failure of municipal officers to accept office
On Thursday, House Speaker Jill Krowinski sent H159, the Better Places Program, to Appropriations. Also on Thursday, the following remarks by Rep. Ann Pugh (D-S. Burlington) were entered into the House Journal:
“Madam Speaker: I’m wondering if the House knows what the junior member from Winooski has in common with Amanda Gorman and Dolly Parton? If you don’t, let me tell you. They join Representative Taylor Small as being identified by Time Out Magazine as being one of 11 amazing women who have changed the world; who have not only survived a global pandemic, but have channeled all their efforts into making their communities and the world a better place. Congratulations, junior member from Winooski.”