Covid, ethics, reapportionment bills passed in House

By Campaign for Vermont

This Friday, March 12 is “crossover” in the Vermont Legislature: the last day for all Vermont Legislature bills (except the “money committee bills” like the budget) to be passed out of their committee in order to proceed to passage this year. 

This date is the drop-dead point where a non-money bill must be voted out of one legislative body (the House/Senate) in order to be considered by the other. If a bill does not make crossover it will likely have to wait until next year for final passage. That being said, making the crossover deadline does not guarantee a bill will pass or that it won’t change significantly before it does.

Most committees have passed a small number of priority bills. A few bills have been approved by either the House or the Senate. Even fewer have cleared both chambers. Here is a breakdown of bills that have passed either House, Senate or both.

The House has passed:

  • H.315 –  COVID-19 relief
    • “Prefunds” the state employees pension and other post-employment funds with an additional $20M.
    • Re-allocates $15M in unallocated reserves for school air quality measures.
    • Creates $10M in business grants administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
    • Gives the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board an additional $10M to combat homelessness.
    • Bolsters mental health services with an additional $5.3M.
    • Offers New Americans, refugees, and immigrants $700k in translation, telehealth, Covid-19 testing, and vaccination programs.
    • Appropriates an additional $1.3M for families in the Reach Up program.
    • Adds an additional $1.4M in funding for the Vermont Food Bank.
    • Puts an additional $2.2M towards the Covid-response line extension program and customer assistance programs for broadband.
    • Other various program enhancements related to pandemic response totaling $13.3M.
  • H.338 –  reapportionment proposal deadlines
  • H.199 –  validating legal instruments used in connection with the conveyance of real estate
  • H.135 –  the State Ethics Commission
    • Moves required disclosures for executive officers and commission members from every two year to every year.
    • Staggers terms on the Ethics Commission so that no more than two seats expire in a given year.
    • Allows the Executive Director to hire staff deemed necessary by the Commission.
    • Limits who can request advisory opinions to just those persons covered by the code of ethics in order to avoid misuse.
    • Prepares the Commission to introduce an official state code of ethics next year.
  • H.89 –  limiting liability for agritourism
  • H.122 –  boards and commissions
  • H.81 –  statewide public school employee health benefits
  • H.20 –   pretrial risk assessments and pretrial services
  • H.18 –   sexual exploitation of children
  • H.151 –  vital records, mausoleums and columbaria, and emergency health orders

The Senate has passed:

  • S.11 –  prohibiting robocalls
  • S.45 –  earned discharge from probation
  • S.86 –  miscellaneous changes to laws related to vehicles and vessels
  • S.87 –   emergency provisions for the operation of government
  • S.18 –  limiting earned good time sentence reductions for offenders convicted of certain crimes
  • S.42 –  establishing the Emergency Service Provider Wellness Commission
  • S.36 –  modifications to the use of certain Coronavirus Relief Fund appropriations

Passed by both:

  • S.14 –   deed restrictions and housing density
  • H.138 –  fiscal year 2021 budget adjustments
  • S.9 –   extending certain workers’ compensation amendments related to COVID-19
  • H.48 –  authorizing alternative procedures for 2021 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19

“What is noticeably missing is any ostensible effort at economic recovery or getting small Vermont businesses back on their feet,” campaign for Vermont said.Arguably the only bill with even a tenuous connection to economic recovery is the agritourism liability bill. But even that is a stretch. Honestly, looking at the remaining bills in play we are not too hopeful that a comprehensive bill will pull together in the next week.”

Categories: Legislation

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