by Guy Page
Every week, a freshman legislator from Orange reports back to her constituents 1) what the House voted on and 2) how she voted. Samantha Lefebvre calls her column “News from the House Floor.”
It is a marvel of brevity and accountability.
Reports like hers are a rarity. It is distinguished from those of almost all other legislators of all parties in three ways:
- It is brief and easy to read.
- She tells you the bill number and what it’s about. And
- She tells you how she voted.
Without further ado and with an editor’s appreciation and gratitude for a reporter who compresses important information not available elsewhere on Vermont Daily Chronicle, here is this week’s edition of what will, with her permission, become a regular weekly feature:
News from the House Floor
H.456 (establishing strategic goals and reporting requirements for Vermont State Colleges) Passed, I voted Yes.
H.491 (creating City of Essex and adopting City charter) Passed, I voted yes.
H.515 (banking, insurance, and securities) Passed unanimously, I voted yes.
H.708 (City of Burlington charter – just cause evictions) Passed, I voted no.
H.709 (misc. agricultural subjects) Passed unanimously, I voted yes.
H.448 (City of Burlington charter – misc., incl. regulation of thermal energy systems) passed with a roll call of Yeas, 96. Nays, 47. I voted No. This bill will cause an increase in what Vermonter’s in Burlington pay and additional fee will be imposed on those that use fossil fuel. Before the fee is enacted it will have to go back to the voters of Burlington. As usual, a charter change is enabling language that gives the town of the charter the ability to create ordinances beyond the charter base. In committee we heard testimony that this will also put pressure and cause price increase for the fuel dealers in that area, not that there isn’t support for more sustainable options for those that can afford a change but mandating an entire city like Burlington to change their systems will create the fuel suppliers in that area to make changes that they are not having to do statewide. We heard that this will be more costly, and they urged Burlington to wait until the rest of the state had a plan, if there was to be one.
The Committee on Government Operations recommends an amendment The Committee on Ways and Means recommends that the bill ought to pass when amended as recommended by the Committee on Government Operations.
H.R.18 (revising and adopting by rule the House member dress code) passed, I voted yes.
H.501 (physical containment standards for residual waste, digestate, and soil amendments) passed, I voted no. To start this bill never went to the House Committee of Agriculture and Forestry. This bill has direct work with the Agency of Agriculture, yet never went through the committee that has that jurisdiction. I support composting and it’s something that I do myself, but this bill will continue to defend a single source provider for how we deal with our trash. I feel that there are better ways about this that are not legislation. The Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife recommends a strike-all amendment that begins on pg. 800 of your Calendar.
H.R.19 (amending House ethics rules) passed, I voted yes
J.R.H.16 (authorizing Green Mountain Boys State to use the State House) passed, I voted yes
H.697 (eligibility of reserve forestland for enrollment in the Use Value Appraisal Program) passed on a roll call of Yeas, 83. Nays, 43. 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 that we have 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 on the House Committee on Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife. This bill never went to the House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry who 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. I feel that 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 is 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.
The Committee on Ways and Means recommends instances of amendment.
H.R.20 (remote participation in House sessions and committees under restricted, COVID-related circumstances through 2022 and 2023-24 alternative procedure convening and organizing authority) was adopted. I voted yes
J.R.H. 17 (remote participation in joint committees under restricted, COVID-related circumstances through 2022) adopted with 17 representatives opposing on a roll call.