Legislature back to ‘business as usual’

By Guy Page

With the State House closed and the streets filled with protesters, it’s been easy for Vermonters to overlook the work of their lawmakers. Bills all but forgotten during the pandemic will be addressed when the House meets by Zoom.

The following bills have received initial House approval and are up for third or “final” reading:

H.833 forms a study group of the environmental and economic impacts of moving surface water, including runoff. Critics of the state Clean Water Act’s huge fees for surface water management fees hope this study will offer more realistic solutions.

H.99 bans trade in ivory, animal skins, and other body parts of protected animals including elephants, ocelots, jaguars, lions, mammoths and mastodons. Exceptions include ivory-inlaid firearms, drums covered with protected animal hide, etc..

Guy Page

H.581 forms a study group to emphasize the wildlife protection role of the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and find reliable funding sources other than hunting and fishing license fees. In effect, this bill would reduce Fish & Wildlife policy and funding control by sportsmen and sportswomen and enhance it among bird-watchers and other non-lethal nature-lovers.

H.783 enacts guidelines for recovery homes, including how to remove residents for lack of sobriety.

These two Senate-approved bills are up for initial “second reading” approval in the House:

S.338, justice reinvestment, attempts to reduce out-of-state “contract” beds and recidivism of furloughed inmates by streamlining and shortening probation and parole.

S.348 authorizes the Secretary of State to require mailing of 2020 general election ballots to every registered voter. Gov. Phil Scott has said he will not oppose this bill. House Republicans (Reps. Myers of Essex, Donahue of Northfield, Goslant of Northfield, Gregoire of Fairfield, Morrissey of Bennington, Quimby of Concord, Savage of Swanton, and Toof of St. Albans Town)  would amend the bill to add penalties for vote-by-mail fraud, and would require the Attorney General to investigate. Similar amendments failed in the Senate, generally along party lines.

Critics of S.348 say the Secretary of State’s office has neither the interest nor a plan to prevent or investigate vote-by-mail fraud, despite many municipal clerks saying it could happen in their towns, and has happened in at least one other state. The House vote on today’s amendment will, at least, put House members on record for their level of concern about possible voter fraud.

Two bills are on the House “notice calendar,” meaning they will be addressed for second reading at the next session of the House. H.880 would require Abenaki place names on state park signs. H.923 expands the crime of unlawful trespass to include entering a vehicle without legal authority. Last year a Washington County woman was terrorized when a man unknown to her entered her car, pushed her over into the passenger seat, and proceeded to drive off. Only after tense minutes of her protests did he pull over and exit the car.

To controversial bills were “ordered to lie,” meaning they are effectively dead for the 2020 season: H.162, removal of buprenorphine from the misdemeanor crime of possession of a narcotic, and H.492, establishing a homeless bill of rights and prohibiting discrimination against people without homes.

The pandemic has forced the State of Vermont to alter its care for homeless Vermonters, who have had less access to food, shelter and bathroom facilities due to the lockdown. An estimated 1,100 homeless Vermonters are housed nightly in hotels and motels after traditional shelters were forced to close. H.492, conceived “pre-pandemic,” banned discrimination for employment, services, housing, and healthcare, but also protected the right to loiter on public streets – which was objected to by some municipal and business interests.

Over in the Senate, S.227banning small plastic shampoo bottles in hotels, will be up for final approval. (Critics have noted that the more recycling-friendly alternative, the refillable pump bottle, is also a possible vector for virus transmission.) This bill is discussed at length in a recent Ethan Allen Institute blog post.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

5 thoughts on “Legislature back to ‘business as usual’

  1. The mail in ballot plan is shameful.

    The Dem’s/Progressives have championed and encouraged all of the demonstrations across the country, even though it violated every aspect of social distancing and efforts to curtail the spread of COVID. This fly’s in the face of their argument that we all “must” stay at home and do our part. WHY???

    These buffoons are so single minded that everything is right and reasonable and acceptable as long as it challenges law and order. Now we should vote by mail to reduce exposure to the virus. What a bunch of B.S.. They have a single purpose… to do everything possible to shape this November’s election.

    Vermont has a tried and trusted absentee ballot system. You can request a ballot, have your name checked off the check list that you were sent your ballot. Only you can legally mail it back to the town clerk to be counted. You just don’t automatically receive a ballot in the mail. Who knows who fills out the ones sent by mail to all registered voters who may be dead, no longer a resident, etc. How many people will tell someone, I will pay you “money” for your mail in vote?

    This is a dangerous, unnecessary, and a moronic move that is only being pushed by progressives because they think this will give hem an advantage at election time.

    They ain’t doing it just to be nice and considerate. They have a devious and nefarious reason for doing this.

    These are the same people that want to disarm the police, defund them and make them personally more vulnerable to every possible scenario that restricts the leftest agenda.


  2. Legislature back to ‘business as usual’ so that means a new barrage of
    foolishness and some more taxes……………

    The states in debt, taxes already out of control businesses are still trying
    to recover from the state shutdown from the Wuhan Virus and this gaggle
    of fools, we have in Montpelier introduce H99″ Ban Ivory trade ” sounds like
    a real issue, and S.227, ” banning small plastic shampoo bottles in hotels,
    my God how pathetic……………

    Vermonter’s ” real ” Vermonters please help to vote these inept fools out
    of office before the completely ruin the state as we know it.

    No new bills, that have a tax or added cost to the budget !!!


    • Back in business as usual is the scariest phrases there is when it comes to the state legislature. Give them credit for creativity as no one in their right mind can dream up the schemes these folks are capable of.

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