The House Last Week

House votes to conserve 1/2 of VT land, raise heating costs, reduce criminal sentences

By Rep. Samantha Lefebvre

Editor’s Note: Our new feature, ‘The House Last Week,’ is an edited version of the excellent weekly report Rep. Samantha Lefebvre (R-Orange) emails every Friday to her constituents.)

It was a busy week on the House floor, due to cross over occurring the week before. Cross over moves bills from policy committees so they can go to the floor and then move, if passed, to the Senate. The same occurs in the Senate and those bills are then sent to the House for us to take up.

Rep. Samantha Lefebvre

The House redistricting bill passed the House this week 129-13. To see the final map of the state click here.  

Other bills passed on the House Floor last week:

Retirement allowance for interim educators passed. I voted yes.  

Natural organic reduction of human remains passed. I voted yes.

Prohibiting sale of mercury lamps passed. I voted yes.  

Reducing hydrofluorocarbon emissions passed. I voted no. 

Community resilience and biodiversity protection passed with a roll call of Yeas 92 Nays, 42. I did not support this bill, referenced as the 30 by 30 and 50 by 50 conservation of Vermont’s lands.

Over 80% of Vermont’s forest land is already privately owned. There is a strong possibility that this will affect private property ownership. While there are many ways to conserve land, efforts through zoning could lead to situations where you are constricted to what you can or can’t do with your land, which will leave many Vermonters wondering why they are paying property taxes. I believe that Vermonters have done and will continue to be good stewards of their property. This is Government overreach dictating to landowners.

Judicial Retention bill before Joint Assembly passed. I voted yes. 

Final reapportionment of House passed on a roll call vote of Yeas, 129 Nays, 13. I was a yes on this bill though I am very disappointed in the outcome of the former Orange – 1 District. I support the overall work of the committee and I appreciate the communication, public input and detail that went into trying to meet the needs of the state while meeting constitutional requirements. 

I am deeply saddened that the Town of Williamstown is being divided. This means that ¾ of the Town of Williamstown will be with the Town of Chelsea in its entirety and ¼ of Williamstown will be combined with the Town of Barre. 

Leaving Williamstown and Chelsea whole had a deviation of over 10% which is unconstitutional. I personally brought other maps and ideas forward that were declined, by leadership of my committee. There was no constitutional reason to divide the 6 towns that are currently represented by two representatives. The deviation for the six towns was appropriate and the deviation of the Town of Barre was within limits if left alone. 

The separation occurred at the ask of smaller towns in the district not wanting to be overshadowed by a larger district. I can respect their ask but wished that there was a different way to go about getting to that point as all towns within their testimony asked that they themselves and any other towns not to be physically divided.

Incremental approach to health insurance coverage for hearing aids passed. I voted yes. 

Patient financial assistance policies and medical debt protection passed. I voted yes. 

There are far too many Vermonters that are neglecting to receive or seek out medical care due fear of the fees associated. While we all need to take accountability for fiscal responsibility and management of personal debt, I feel that guard rails can assist someone from going completely over the edge.

Incarceration terms for criminal defendants who are primary caretakers of dependent children passed. I voted yes.

This bill takes into consideration that a convicted person is a caretaker for dependent children when setting a term limit. While I did not agree with the entire bill or some of the floor testimony that was given, the underlying notion is something that I have seen be a huge aspect in the lives of children whose parent(s) are incarcerated.

Classification system for criminal offenses passed. I voted no. 

This bill changed some of the fees and sentences associated with crimes that I find heinous. I understand that at the end of the day the term and fee will be set by the judge based on statutes but lowering the amount that is in statute only shows that we are moving more and more away from holding criminals accountable for their actions.  

Miscellaneous cannabis establishment procedures passed. I voted no on this on the floor and in committee. I was not comfortable with the labeling piece and some of the packaging concepts. It is crucial that we keep children away from these products and while trying to be environmentally friendly is in everyone’s best interest, I do not believe that it should come at the cost of having an accidental incident of a child digesting these products.

Prohibiting racially and religiously restrictive covenants in deeds passed. I voted yes.  

Secondary enforcement of minor traffic offenses. Action on this bill was postponed until the week of Monday, March 21. This bill proposes to designate certain motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic violations as violations that may only be enforced if a law enforcement officer has detained the operator of a vehicle or pedestrian for another suspected traffic violation.

H715 

Clean Heat Standard is an administrative nightmare for small fuel dealers with the threat of losing more small local dealers. This will cause less options and more opportunity for the larger companies to monopolize the price field. Inevitably the rise in prices will come back to the consumers, families, businesses, schools, and more. 

It passed 96-44. I voted no.

Rep. James Harrison (R-Mendon) and others offered an amendment that did not pass and that I supported. It set a revision date for 2023 that would put the obligation back in the hands of the Legislature to review the proposed price changes and what they have found throughout this year while working on these standards. 

I find it appalling that there was a bill approved that was guaranteed to hurt small business and at the end of the day force businesses to raise prices before we even knew what that rise might look like.  

Access to adoption records passed. I voted yes. 

A bill on union and unified union school districts passed by roll call of Yeas = 98, Nays = 39. I did not support this bill. I stood in support of our rural area and the challenges that we have faced with mergers and separations. Our students are the foundation of what the generations to come will be like and it is crucial that they have the best opportunities and education.

Civil forfeiture passed. I voted yes.

Sealing criminal history records passed. I voted no.

H.711 (opioid settlement advisory committee and special fund) passed. I voted yes. This is a requirement for the $64 million that Vermont will be receiving from the opioid settlement.

H.716 (misc. changes to education law) passed. I voted yes.

S.4 (procedures involving firearms) Passed on a roll call vote of Yeas = 90, Nays = 42. I voted no.

S.30 (prohibiting possession of firearms within hospital buildings): action was postponed until May 17th.

Categories: The House Last Week

8 replies »

    • I thought the exact same thing Patrick. I would have voted exactly as Samantha did in every bill. She is thoughtful and has her constituents’ interests clearly foremost in her mind. Our representative continues to ignore the needs and interests of her constituents.

  1. The fringe alt left progressives want Vermont to resemble burlington…keep that in mind in November!!

  2. They say if you are targetted, you must be doing something right. Orange took a hit. You were targetted. Pick up and keep on going.

  3. Very little of the legislation introduced this biennium benefits Vermont’s citizens. The same folks that these “representatives “ swore or affirmed an oath to represent. This group of elitists has done an admirable job of protecting their special interest donors.
    Until the electorate holds these people accountable to their oath and constitutional duties, we will get more of the same. I hold the eligible voters of Vermont responsible for the debacle, those that do vote and those that have become disenfranchised- and stopped voting.
    I’m sure that balint, krowinski,pollina and many others are pleased to read of conservatives leaving Vermont, but they seem to not realize that the tax money paid by this group leaves as well. The federal government isn’t going to replace the loss, especially now that Leahy has announced his retirement. Bernie could care less about Vermont, he has bigger goals.

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