Police lawsuits, anti-development legislation also proceeds
By Guy Page
Two hunting and trapping bills were approved by the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee last week and will move forward for consideration by the full Senate.
The bills fall short of outright bans on leg hold traps and hunting coyotes with dogs, as set forth in the bills as introduced. If approved by the Senate, the bills will move on to the House.
Senate committees also offered ‘compromise’ legislation to S254, which would have stripped police officers of protection against civil suits. Instead, the bill requires a summer study on how ‘qualified immunity’ might best be taken from them.
Other high-profile bills to emerge out of committees last week include H606 (pg. 1123), requiring that 50% of all land area in Vermont have non-development status by 2050: “Thirty percent of Vermont’s total land area shall be conserved by 2030, and 50 percent of the State’s total land area shall be conserved by 2050. The Secretary of Natural Resources shall assist the State in achieving these goals. The land conserved shall include State, federal, municipal, and private land.”
H606 faces strong pushback from conservative Republicans. “It is a dangerous threat to private property rights,” Rep. Art Peterson (R-Clarendon) said. A Republican senator noted on social media. “I will be a big NO if this bill gets to the Senate side,” Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) said.
Rules set by the Vermont Legislature require bills to be approved by their original committees by Friday, March 11 – the date known as the “Crossover.” In addition to many previously approved bills, all of the bills below were approved late last week and thus have survived Crossover. They can be seen in their entirety on today’s House and Senate calendars.
House bill (H.) 606 Community resilience and biodiversity protection
H. 244 Authorizing the natural organic reduction of human remains
H. 500 Prohibiting the sale of mercury lamps in the State
H. 523 Reducing hydrofluorocarbon emissions
H. 482 The Petroleum Cleanup Fund
H. 715 The Clean Heat Standard
Senate Bill (S.) 161 extending the baseload renewable power portfolio requirement
S. 251 divestment of State pension funds from fossil fuel companies
S. 284 weatherization
S. 201 the use of leghold traps – requires the Fish & Wildlife Board to revise by Jan. 1, 2024 all trapping regulations according to the “best practices” as determined by the Fish & Game Dept.
S. 281 hunting coyotes with dogs – allows up to 100 coyote-hunting-with-dogs permits, restricts when and how hunting may take place.
H. 722 Final reapportionment of the House of Representatives
H. 465 Boards and commissions
H. 512 Modernizing land records and notarial acts law
H. 551 Prohibiting racially and religiously restrictive covenants in deeds
H. 655 Establishing a telehealth licensure and registration system
H. 266 An incremental approach to health insurance coverage for hearing aids
H. 287 Patient financial assistance policies and medical debt protection
H. 353 Pharmacy benefit management
H. 464 The medical review process in the Reach Up program and Postsecondary Education Program eligibility
H. 661 Licensure of mental health professionals
S. 197 the Coordinated Mental Health Crisis Response
S. 204 licensure of freestanding birth centers
S. 285 expanding the Blueprint for Health and access to home- and community-based services
H. 399 Incarceration terms for criminal defendants who are primary caretakers of dependent children
H. 475 The classification system for criminal offenses
H. 635 Secondary enforcement of minor traffic offenses
S. 127 a pilot project for a Department of Corrections report to assist the court setting conditions of probation
S. 220 State-paid deputy sheriffs
S. 250 enhanced administrative and judicial accountability of law enforcement officers
S. 254, the ‘qualified immunity’ bill, creating a private right of action against law enforcement officers for violating rights established under Vermont law. The bill as approved last week (see pg. 977) by Senate Judiciary does not remove police officers’ qualified immunity, but instead requires more summer study, and a report due by Nov. 15.
H. 548 Miscellaneous cannabis establishment procedures
H. 703 Promoting workforce development
H. 704 The regulation of accessory on-farm businesses
S. 258 amending the Required Agricultural Practices in order to address climate resiliency
S. 162 the collective bargaining rights of teachers