Legislation

Jury trial change, senior tax exemption, cannabis regs, Clean Heat Standard, etc. survive Crossover

by Guy Page

Friday was a busy day in the Vermont House and Senate, with many bills being passed to meet the Friday “Crossover” deadline. Bills not passed out of their original committees by Friday are ineligible to proceed for passage this year (barring extraordinary action by the Legislature).

Vermont Daily Chronicle will publish a more comprehensive list tomorrow. Today, here are seven Crossover survivors. Information on the first five bills is sourced from the March 11 Lake Champlain Chamber advocacy newsletter

Non-Unanimous Jury Trial

The Senate Committee on Judiciary advanced S.178, reducing the requirement for obtaining a jury verdict in a civil case from unanimous to 80 percent. This is despite testimony from Judge Thomas Zonay, a Vermont Chief Superior Judge, who had polled all current civil judges and found that no judges are in favor of this legislation.  

Currently, Vermont requires verdicts to be unanimous. Under this bill, the plaintiffs’ attorneys will only need to persuade 10 out of 12 jurors (or 5 of 6). Many see this as an effort by the plaintiffs’ bar to obtain more frequent and larger verdicts. This is of concern because often, jury dynamics can be such that minority voices can easily be cast aside during deliberation and the majority of the jury can ignore the views of jurors who see things differently.

Military retiree tax exemption

Senate Finance approved S53, which with many other tax changes includes the long-debated military retiree tax exemption as previously passed by the House. The Senate’s language will be included with the stipulation that retirees must choose between the military retiree exemption or the Social Security benefits exemption when they reach Social Security eligibility. There will also be a full exemption on military survivor benefits without restrictions.

Due to differences in the House and Senate versions of S53, the bill will very likely be decided in a Committee of Conference. 

Hazardous household waste disposal

The House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously advanced H.115, a bill that would create a requirement for those importing products that fit the definition of Hazardous Household Waste to create stewardship organizations to handle that waste.

Clean Heat Standard

The Clean Heat Standard was passed out of the Appropriations Committee on a vote of 8-4 and will head to the House Floor next week for a vote. The Clean Heat Standard creates a regulatory system by which fossil-fuel gasoline and heating oil dealers fund non-fossil transportation and heating alternatives. 

Weatherization

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources approved the weatherization bill, S.284, with $20 million for the Office of Economic Opportunity, focused on low-income homes.

Information on these two bills was provided by Rep. Samantha Lefebvre (R-Orange). 

Cannabis regulation

H. 548, miscellaneous cannabis establishment procedures, was approved by House Government Operations 9-2-0. Rep. Lefebvre voted no on this bill. “There was a lot of testimony on the labeling and safety warnings along with other portions of this bill that led me to be uncomfortable with the bill,” she said. The bill was passed with “caps” on THC concentration despite efforts by the marijuana industry to remove them. 

Secondary enforcement of minor traffic offenses: goes to summer study

H. 635 – An act relating to secondary enforcement of minor traffic offenses. This was voted out of committee on a 11-0-0 vote. “While I was adamantly opposed to the first and second draft of the bill, I appreciate the sponsor being willing to pull the bill and turn it into a study by the Commissioner of Public Safety and a liaison from the Office of Racial Equity to be able to flush out what would be appropriate to remove from statute,” Rep. Lefebvre said.

More Crossover coverage in tomorrow’s edition

9 replies »

  1. Easy to wish the legislators would focus on core running
    State business and finance, and tax levels;

    And leave these “feel good baloney” Bills “in the hopper!”

  2. “The Clean Heat Standard was passed out of the Appropriations Committee on a vote of 8-4 and will head to the House Floor next week for a vote. The Clean Heat Standard creates a regulatory system by which fossil-fuel gasoline and heating oil dealers fund non-fossil transportation and heating alternatives.” It appears the four Republicans, at least, kept their sanity and opposed this boondoggle. Let’s all hope it is vetoed and there are enough rational Democrats left to vote against the override.

  3. if you want to kill this bill…… let every fuel dealer in Vermont deny delivery to every politician that is listed as voting for this boondoggle.

  4. Thank you, Rob LeClair, for capping THC to 30 and 60%. This is much better than the industry’s request for 100% that is found in many dabs, waxes, butters, and shatter. This is VERY DANGEROUS for any user. I knew the high school student who on a first time experience almost died Dec. 23 on the gym floor at a basketball game in Central Vermont. She isn’t the only Vermont student this happened to. Canada’s THC limits are 15%.

    Most of Vermont’s media are not reporting on Cannabis concerns. Thank you, Guy for including it here. There are many stories if the public knew them coming from other states that commercialized before us would never have gone along with any commercialization. It is an open door invitation to the cartels because it is much easier for them to do business then. It is much safer if those that want to smoke find a friend to grow it for them. We don’t need it pushed any more than it is to our youth. Even Gov. Scott’s Marijuana Commission’s doctors agree that it is NOT SAFE for brains that are still developing up to age 25.

    I hope the stories reach our youth and their parents before they learn the hard way that it increases psychosis episodes, violent outbreaks in ER’s, autism, addictive drug use, homocides, suicides, crime, homelessness and more. This is not a scare tactic – you can find reputable sources for all of the posters in this dropbox. Find some you agree with and put them up on your community bulletin boards, town hall for planning boards and selectboards, schools, grocery stores, community organizations. We all need to be better informed, but especially our youth.
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gkvpc1m8dt8674s/AAD8d1mxUoT59VVkZaCla-ZCa?dl=0

  5. I’m confused by the wording of S53….vets must choose between their military tax exemption OR their Social Security tax exemption when they reach retirement age…..I never knew there was a Social Security tax exemption. Is this new?

    • Kathleen, I think this only applies to military vets. you can take the exemption on your social security or your military retirement. Hope this helps.

      • Thank you. I guess seniors (a large demographic in VT) still count for nothing.

  6. Can someone explain crossover to me; little in the dark thinking 3/18 is 2.5 months to work on a 12 month budget ect…..I’d like to see a cap on the time it takes our leaders to do the work ..say done by end of march. seems to me limiting the time would also limit some of the completely unnecessary and/or harmful legislation from getting attention as it is now…..if a limit on time also cuts down on costs associated

  7. as far as the Jury Trial 80%; thats just plain unconstitutional ………”who are those guys”……what are they thinking…….

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