By Rep. Samantha Lefebvre
Editor’s note: the one-armed paper hanger that is the Vermont Daily Chronicle sometimes “gets behind” on reporting current news. Rep. Lefebvre submitted this report last weekend on the bills voted on last week by the House. Our regrets for not publishing this information sooner.
H697, eligibility of reserve forestland for enrollment in Use Value Appraisal Program, passed by roll call: Yeas 99, Nays 40. I voted NO.
This bill is categorized as “dipping our toes in the water” for testing a new category of the Use Value Appraisal Program that would place reserve forest land into the structure. “Reserve forestland” means land that is managed for the purpose of attaining old forest values and functions in accordance with minimum acceptable standards for forest management and as approved by the Commissioner.
There is a state goal to get our old forest land to 9% and there is some fear with the current statute we will not get there. I have many reservations looking at this bill.
The first, which I tried to correct, is that this bill stayed in the possession of the House Committee on Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife. This bill never went to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry which is the committee that holds jurisdiction over forestry related legislation. I made a motion on the floor asking to commit this bill with the instances of amendment from the Committee on Ways and Means. That motion was denied.
There wasn’t enough testimony taken as a landowner was never heard from along with the committee never hearing testimony from the Current Use Advisory Board. Forestry land, products and management are very near and dear to my heart. I hope that in the future a bill that will impact so much of it will be treated and respected better.
Vermont National Guard Tuition Benefit Program passed unanimously.
Obtaining a marriage license in any town in Vermont passed unanimously.
This bill was sponsored by Rep Graham of Williamstown, and I proudly reported it on the floor! The bill gives permissive language to Vermonters to have the same accessibility and flexibility that non-residents have now!
Management of perpetual care funds by cemetery associations passed unanimously.
Vote on the Governor’s veto of Brattleboro 16-17 year-old voting bill: Yeas = 100, Nays = 48. The Governor’s veto was not sustained, and the bill will pass.
A bill for disposal of hazardous household products passed 80-55. I do not support this bill as there were many areas that were left unanswered. For example, the products that would be considered and what the fees will be. I support the underlying concept of this and want to support the one landfill that we have left in Vermont, it’s unfortunate that the bill could not address these questions. I will look forward to seeing the list of products in this new category and what that will mean for Vermonters.