By Guy Page
A House bill introduced Jan. 27 by two southern Vermont legislators would ban tax exemptions for any church or charitable organization engaged in lobbying.
H.113 would amend current law to “clarify that churches and other public, pious, or charitable organizations are not eligible for the State property tax exemption if those organizations engage in any lobbying or other political activity on their property. Churches and nonprofits will also be required under this bill to certify annually to the Vermont Department of Taxes that the organization does not conduct any lobbying or political activity on the property that would disqualify the organization from the exemption.”
The bill was sponsored by Reps. Laura Sibilia (West Dover) and Kelly Pajala (Londonderry), both independents. It was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
Eliminate life without parole?
S.41 would eliminate a life without parole as a sentencing option and prohibit consecutive sentencing for individuals who were 25 years of age or younger at the time they committed the offenses. Sponsored by Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, it was sent to Senate Judiciary.
A Senate bill introduced Jan. 25 would permit arrest without a warrant for persons suspected of assaulting, or threatening assault, on a health care worker.
A Senate bill introduced last week would provide no-cost health care for all legislators, as well as other benefits.
S.39 would “make members of the General Assembly eligible for the State employees’ health benefit plan at no cost and to allow them to participate in any flexible spending account program offered to State employees for health care expenses or dependent care expenses, or both.”
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) and Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) and others, would also
- provide compensation to members of the General Assembly during adjournment
- allow members of the General Assembly to choose whether to receive their payments for meals and lodging expenses as an allowance, which may be treated as income subject to tax for federal and State income tax purposes, or as reimbursement of actual expenses, which may be excluded from income for federal and State income tax purposes
- allow a legislator to be reimbursed for child care, dependent care, and elder care expenses that are necessary to facilitate the member’s service in the General Assembly
- expand the legislative leave of absence law to allow members to take a leave of absence from any job, not only a full-time job, in order to serve in the General Assembly
- create the Legislative Service Working Group to consider and make recommendations on issues involving legislative compensation and benefits, staffing, administrative support, and the length of the legislative session.
S.36 would “permit a law enforcement officer to arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person assaulted or threatened a health care worker at a health care facility, or engaged in disorderly conduct that interfered with the provision of medically necessary health care services in a health care facility.”
The bill was sponsored by Sens. Richard Sears (D-Bennington, Chair of Judiciary) and Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden, Chair of Health Care), and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Last year, Vermont hospitals experienced a significant uptick in assaults on nurses and other staff, particularly in overcrowded emergency rooms with high numbers of mentally ill patients.
Judiciary is scheduled to review S.36 at 9 AM Wednesday morning. Jill Maynard, Director of Emergency Services, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and Patricia Johnson, MS, RN, Emergency Room Nurse, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are among those scheduled to testify.
A Vermont law enforcement official associated with the Legislature said last week he is unaware why the bill would authorize an arrest “without a warrant” when warrants are not required to execute an arrest.
A House bill introduced Jan. 27 would ban surveillance devices from use on private property without consent from the property owner.
H.122 would “propose to make it a civil offense to place a surveillance device on private property without first obtaining consent from the property owner.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Allyssa Black (D-Westford) and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.