Race-related bills get review this week
By Guy Page
Like baby turtles marching to the sea, most bills introduced into the Vermont Legislature never become ‘full grown’ laws. Most die without a single committee hearing. The somewhat more fortunate ones actually get a committee hearing. This week, several bills of interest were “taken off the wall” and valuable committee time was given for their consideration.
All day Friday, House Commerce will hear Rev. Mark Hughes and other racial justice advocates testify about H406, promoting racial and social equity in economic opportunity and cultural empowerment. If passed, the bill would:
- Create the Vermont Department of Cultural Empowerment and Economic Advancement, which would implement a statewide Cultural Empowerment and Economic Advancement Network, consisting of four Community Empowerment Centers located in different geographic regions of the state. It would create a new Treasury fund to finance the new department, estimated at $10 million per year.
Among other tasks, the new department would fund cultural empowerment and arts programming.
- Design and implement the BIPOC Business Development Program.
- Prioritize BIPOC businesses for the awarding of state contracts.
- design and implement five BIPOC continuing education and apprenticeship programs.
All week, House Energy & Technology will take testimony on Clean Heat Standard legislation. A Clean Heat Standard would require fossil-fuel dealers to finance ‘green’ companies’ installation of low-fossil fuel home heating systems like heat pumps.
The always-interesting House General, Housing and Military Affairs will discuss legislation to:
Authorize composting of human remains (H244).
Promote BIPOC land ownership (H273)
Create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Development Task Force (H96)
Require employers provide compensation data to the State, broken down by gender and race, and require the Dept. of Labor to publish this information on a searchable website (H615).
On Wednesday and Friday, House Human Services will examine H628, amending a birth certificate to reflect gender identity, sponsored by Rep. Taylor Small (D/P Winooski).
House Judiciary will consider:
- H533, limiting law enforcement financial benefit from forfeiture of drug dealers’ property.
- H505, reclassifying penalties for drug offenses, including dealing.
- H631, raising the age of eligibility to marry to 18.
House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Wednesday morning will hold another hearing on H606, which would require 50% of total land area in Vermont to be conserved against development.
House Ways & Means – the tax committee – Tuesday afternoon may vote on H510, creating a Vermont child tax credit to replace the proposed federal child tax credit in moribund “Build Back Better” legislation.
On Wednesday, Ways & Means will review H556, exempting Native-American tribe-owned land from property taxes. Friday it will review H527, a more general tax relief bill sponsored by Rutland Republican Bill Canfield.
More information on these bills can be found on the Bills & Resolution tab of the Vermont Legislature website.