Statehouse Headliners: New bills make hard drug possession a misdemeanor, ban teacher strikes

By Guy Page

House Judiciary Committee on Friday held a hearing on H.103, downgrading possession of cocaine, heroin, LSD and other “hard drugs” from a felony to a misdemeanor. Possession with intent to sell would remain a felony. Supporters say the downgrade will make drug addicts and other users and their friends and family more likely to seek assistance.

As startling as this proposed transition from felony to misdemeanor may be, there is reason to think some supporters would like to downgrade further to actual decriminalization. Present to testify yesterday was Robert Sand, a marijuana legalization supporter, former Vermont state’s attorney, and now a Vermont Law School professor. In 2017, Sand introduced into House Judiciary testimony a Cato Institute report supporting hard drug decriminalization, by which “violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm.”

These bills have been introduced into the Vermont House of Representatives through Feb. 1.

H.149 Require lack of road access to be considered in valuation of land-locked parcels. Reps. Hill, Noyes.
H.148 Allow banks, CUs to offer prize-linked savings accounts and operate savings promotion raffles. Reps. Hill, Noyes.
H.147 Allow mediation of disputes about access to landlocked property. Reps. Hill, Noyes.
H.146 Increase board of bar exam examiners from nine to 11 members. Rep. Lalonde.
H.145 Require retail sellers of prepaid wireless telecommunications service to collect universal service charge at POS. Rep. Sibilia.
H.144 Distinguish between mental illness, developmental disabilities, and TBI for examining competency to stand trial, amends commitment process for individuals with mental illness to ensure medical necessity. Rep. Donahue.
H.143 Selectmen may appoint town agent, election not necessary. Rep. Sibilia.
H.142 Give active duty National Guard same leave rights, job protections as under federal authority. Give State employees up to 15 days/year paid military leave. Rep. Donahue.
H.141 Public school choice. Rep. Bancroft.
H.140 Require Advisory Council on Special Education conform to federal law. Rep. Townsend.
H.139 Give prescribing authority to doctoral-level psychologists. Rep. Townsend.
H.138 Require Dept. of Health to conduct radon testing in schools. Rep. Townsend.
H.137 Set minimum salary level for executive, administrative, or professional employee to be exempt from minimum wage law. Rep. Howard.
H.136 Add 1% surcharge to personal income tax filers over $500,000, revenue to increase earned income tax credit. Rep. Howard.
H.135 Set authority of Agency of Digital Services. Rep. Briglin.
H.134 Allow pharma manufacturers to provide food to health care providers and members of Green Mountain Care Board at conferences. Rep. Rogers.
H.133 Consolidate annual Energy Report, considers battery storage. Rep. Briglin.
H.132 Allow victims of domestic and sexual violence to terminate rental lease. Rep. Stevens.
H.131 Ban baby bumper pads. Rep. Till.
H.130 Authorize towns to increase smoking age to 21. Rep. Till.
H.129 Create universal, publicly financed primary care for Vermont. Rep. Cina, others.
H.128 Create unused prescription drug repository program. Rep. Pugh
H.127 Allow municipality to set speed limit as low as 15 MPH on town highways. Rep. Lalonde, others.
H.126 Study for Vermont to transition to zero-waste economy. Rep. Cina, others
H.125 Make parochial school students eligible for dual enrollment. Rep. Harrison.
H.124 Remove criminal penalties re: switchblade knives. Rep. Brennan.
H.123 Provide more consumer protection for car buyer re: inspection. Rep. Anthony.
H.122 Reduce eligibility for Child Care Financial Assistance benefits, distributes savings to existing families on program. Rep. Trieber.
H.121 Require DCF to measure caseload assignments by number of individuals served by caseworker, rather than number of families. Rep. Mrowicki
H.120 Remove insurance prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment. Rep. Pugh
H119 Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day
H118 Expand dual enrollment to students who attend schools outside of Vermont
H117 Online travel agencies to collect rooms & meals tax. Rep. Masland
H116 Change requirements for physician assistant licensure. Rep. Emmons
H115 Repeal real property tax on trailer coaches parked 180 days/yr or more. Reps. Lanpher, Birong
H114 Require maximum Medicaid copays for people above federal poverty level, increase financial assistance to income eligible individuals. Rep. Trieber.
H113 Expand Bottle Bill to include water bottles, wine bottles, and containers for all noncarbonated (except milk) and carbonated drinks. Rep. Browning
H112 Allow use of colored signal lamps on law enforcement, fire department, emergency medical service, and funeral procession vehicles, to be seen from rear. Rep. Shaw
H111 Create Health Stabilization Fund to support Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and offset any decrease in 2019 federal funding, with revenue from tax on manufacturers of erectile dysfunction drugs. Rep. Mrowicki
H110 Eliminate strikes and imposed terms in connection with collective bargaining for teachers’ and school administrators’ contracts. Rep. Browning.
H109 Designate October 12 as Dewey Dayfor Montpelier native U.S. Navy Admiral George Dewey. Rep. Canfield
H.108 Prohibit disproportionate share of payments to hospitals in favor of academic learning centers. Rep. Jickling
H.107 Create paid family leave insurance, to be funded by employees and employers. Rep. Scheu, others.
H.106 Make all of Route 132, in Norwich, Thetford, Sharon, Strafford, a State highway. Rep. Masland.
H.105 Establish study committee to examine alternative governance of Burlington International Airport, to include more representatives from affected municipalities. Rep. Townsend.
H.104 Amend regulations for professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation
H.103 Restructure drug possession laws to make possession of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, Heroin, and other illegal drugs a misdemeanor and possession with intent to sell as a felony. Rep. Colburn, several other members of House Judiciary.
H.102 Limit drug related criminal liability and civil forfeiture actions against persons associated with an approved safer drug consumption program. Rep. Colburn, others.
H.101 Create Event Marketing Fund to promote tourism. Rep. Scheuermann, others.
H.100 Create program to assess environmental health and safety of school buildings. Rep. Townsend.
H.99 Bans sale of protected animal parts or products. Rep. McCullough.
H.98 ANR to study siting a landfill in Vermont, and report about leachate of concern. Rep. Marcotte.
H.97 Adjust fiscal year 2019 budget. Appropriations Committee.
H.96 Amend standards for telecommunications facility siting and bring Internet service to unserved areas. Rep. Sibilia.
H.95 Require study of electric companies providing broadband Internet access service. Rep. Briglin, others.
H.94 Increase universal service charge to fund for State broadband initiatives. Rep. Sibilia.
H.93 Make powerline, telephone poles useful for broadband deployment. Rep. Masland, others.
H.92 Require net neutrality compliance for all telecommunications facility siting. Reps. Sibilia, Haas.
H.91 Enable Vermont to participate in a multi-state cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation, heating, cooling, and ventilation. Rep. Mary Sullivan, others.
H.90 Require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to assist public and independent schools interested in offering hunter education courses. Rep. Linda Sullivan.
H.89 Increase proportion of health care spending allocated to primary care. Rep. Conquest.
H.88 Require presidential candidate to disclose federal tax returns in order to be placed on the presidential primary and general election ballots. Rep. Birong, others.
H.87 Requires State to maximize environmental benefits of Volkswagen settlement. Rep. Michael Yantachka.
H.86 Restricts property transfer tax revenue to Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. Rep. Stevens.
H.85 Increases by $25 per person per month State’s contribution to personal needs allowance for nursing home residents on Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, or both. Rep. Haas.
H.84 Removes Act 250 jurisdiction over telecommunications facilities and grants permanent jurisdiction to Public Utility Commission. Rep. Sibilia.
H.83 Prohibits female genital mutilation. Rep. Till.
H.82 Exempt from sales and use tax parts and accessories for timber harvesting equipment. Reps. Wood, Stephens, Noyes.
H.81 Defines of “milk” as ‘pure lacteal secretion of hooved animals.’ Rep. Partridge.
H.80 Authorizes gun suppressor while hunting, and provides hearing protection for persons while hunting. Reps. Till, Brennan.
H.79 Provides that organizations administering or assisting development of farm-to-school programs are eligible for funding from the Farm-to-School Program at the Agency of Agriculture. Rep. Partridge.
H.78 Places moratorium on school district mergers ordered by the State Board of Education until legal issues are adjudicated. Rep. Partridge.
H.77 Authorizes commercial landlord to retake possession of property upon breach of a lease agreement. Rep. Sibilia.
H.76 Study creation of sales tax zones on eastern VT border. Rep. Seymour.
H.75 Requires manufacturers of household products containing hazardous substance to participate in a stewardship organization; implement plan to collect household products containing a hazardous substance free of charge to the public. Rep. Mary Sullivan.
H.74 Prohibit food service establishments from providing carryout bags, expanded polystyrene food service products, and plastic straws to customers. Rep. Scheu.
H.73 Approve amendments to charter of the City of Barre. Rep. Walz.
H.72 Provide free fishing license to residents with developmental disability. Rep. Scheu.
H.70 Compliance with childcare providers’ education, experiential requirements. Rep. Rosenquist.
H.69 Give one-month grace period for a lapse in motor vehicle registration. Rep. Hashim.
H.68 Provide up to two consecutive hours of paid leave so that employees may vote in primary and general elections held in Vermont and on Town Meeting Day. Rep. Hashim.
H.67 Create exemption from the workers’ compensation requirements for workers engaged in equine care and management for an employer whose annual payroll is less than $10,000. Rep. Shaw.
H.66 Provide same benefit to survivors of firefighters and emergency personnel now available to survivors of law enforcement officers. Rep. Yantachka.
H.65 Require removal of snow and ice from vehicles operated on public highways. Rep. Browning.
H.64 Financing water quality programs with excise taxes on polluters. Rep. Brownell.
H.63 Extend from three days to 30 the time frame for return of unclaimed beverage container deposits. Rep. Sheldon.
H.62 Prohibit school district from closing school due to consolidation without permission from voters. Rep. Ancel.
H.61 Impose strict liability for damages caused by domestic dogs. Rep. Rosenquist.
H.60 Make Agency of Human Services sole agency responsible for oversight and regulation of child care and prekindergarten education for children until enrolled in kindergarten. AHS now shares role with Agency of Education. Rep. Rosenquist.
H.59 Codify charter of Rutland County Solid Waste District. Rep. Harrison.
H.58 Add gender-inclusive language for town officers to charter of the Town of Barre. Reps. LaClair, McFaun.
H.57 Establish in state law the unrestricted right to abortion. Reps. Pugh, Grad.
H.56 Allow use of gun suppressor for game hunting. Rep. Till.
H.55 Require consultant study of microplastics in Vermont waters and environment. Rep. Walz.
H.54 Require solar generation renewable energy credits to be sold to Vermont utilities and applied to Vermont Renewable Energy Standard. Rep. Shaw.
H.53 Establish crime of disturbing the legislature, with punishment of fine and/or jail. Rep. Brennan.
H.51 Prohibit construction of fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont, except for infrastructure certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Rep. Mary Sullivan, others.
H.50 Require that when a person installs a buoy, dock, or floating structure on state waters, expanded polystyrene flotation foam shall be encapsulated by protective covering or shall be designed to prevent foam from disintegrating into the water. Prohibit marina sale of non-encapsulated polystyrene foam products. Reps. Sullivan, McCarthy.
H.49 Prohibit municipalities from adopting any ordinance, resolution, or other enactment about possession, ownership, transportation, transfer, sale, purchase, carrying, licensing, or registration of a knife or knife-making components. Rep. Brennan.
H.48 Tax electronic cigarettes on current wholesale tax on “other tobacco products.” Rep. Till, others.
H.46 Create Sports Betting Study Committee to examine legalizing, regulating, and taxing sports betting, and to prepare proposed legislation that will provide for gradual legalization. Rep. Jickling.
H.45 Prohibit municipal corporation from basing water rates on appraised or assessed value of customer’s property. Rep. Dickinson.
H.44 Require hospitals and Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital each maintain bi-monthly mental health advisory group. Rep. Donahue.
H.43 Require third-party evaluation of Act 46 outcomes; extend merger deadline to July 1, 2020; clarify that authority to approve draft Articles of Amendment lies with voters, not school boards; permit 10 year phase-in of unified tax rate of merged district; and permit modification of equalized homestead property tax rate and household income percentage. Rep. Ancel, others.
H.42 Place moratorium on school district mergers ordered by the State Board of Education until legal issues are adjudicated. Rep. Scheuermann, others.
H.41 Require Agency of Education to evaluate successes and failures of Act 46. Rep. Scheuermann, others.
H.40 Extend deadline of school district mergers required by the State Board of Education to July 1, 2020. Rep. Scheuermann, others.
H.39 Extend deadline of school district mergers required by the State Board of Education to July 1, 2020. Rep. Scheuermann, others.
H.38 Authorize primary enforcement of the adult safety belt law. At present law enforcement may only ticket if car has been stopped for other reasons. Rep. Till, others.
H.37 Eliminates authority of Secretary of Human Services to reverse or modify a decision or order of Human Services Board. Rep. Donahue.
H.36 Require town clerk to notify property owner when lien is filed. Rep. Townsend.
H.35 Establish private right of legal action for medical monitoring damages incurred due to exposure to a toxic substance. Rep. Linda Sullivan.
H.34 Require Secretary of Natural Resources to recommend certain environmental permit programs be delegated to municipalities, including permitting of wastewater systems, wells, and lakeshore land development. Rep. Sibilia.
H.33 Charge 10 cents for each disposable carryout bag used by a person for carrying goods, food, or other products from a retail store. Rep. Yanchatka.
H.32 Require several state agencies to establish and operate an office of regulatory assistance to assist businesses and citizens with understanding and complying with state regulations. Rep. LaClair.
H.31 Create domestic violence restorative justice pilot program in Windsor County, for victims and offenders cases as a condition of probation, furlough, parole, or supervised community sentence. Sponsors: Rep. Grad, others.
H.30 Create crime for a person to possess a firearm if the person is the subject of a relief from abuse order.  Relief from abuse orders must require defendant to relinquish his or her firearms and other dangerous or deadly weapons until the order expires.  The court order shall require the relinquishment of all firearms and other weapons that are in the defendant’s possession, ownership, or control, or that another person possesses, owns, or controls on behalf of the defendant.
H.29 Exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Rep. Dr. George Till.
H.28  Require pharmacists to inform patients about disposal of unused regulated drugs. Rep. Till, others.
H.27 Increase smoking age from 18 to 21 years of age. Rep. Till, others.
H.26 Restrict retail and Internet sales of electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and tobacco paraphernalia. Rep. Till, others.
H.25 Permit electroconvulsive therapy only in hospital or state-qualified health care facilities. Reps. Donahue, Kitzmiller.
H.24 Exempt from Vermont criminal history record check fee individuals earning at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and the organizations that serve them. Rep. Lalonde, others.
H.23 Create checkoff on personal income tax return to allow taxpayers to designate funds to increasing organ donations. Rep. Lalonde, others.
H.22 Expand types of hospitals for which the Green Mountain Care Board reviews the annual budget to include all hospitals that are not conducted, maintained, or operated by the State. Rep. Donahue.
H.21 Prohibit so-called “freak show” display of individuals for money. Reps. Webb, Brumstead.
H.20  Exempt from income taxation first $5,000 of military retirement income. Reps. Donahue, Goslant, others.
H.19 Creates crime of sexual exploitation of a person in custody of law enforcement officer. Rep. Grad, others.
H.18 Require dollar value benefit of energy efficiency charge to be displayed on customers electricity bills. Rep. Sullivan.
H.17 Allow mineral prospecting with a sluice box without a stream alteration permit, subject to conditions. Rep. Yantachka.
H.16 Amend state boards and commissions law in keeping with recommendations of Sunset Advisory Commission.  Reps. Gannon, LaClair.
H.14 Extend benefit payments in workers’ compensation insurance claims to the prescription of medical marijuana. Rep. Kimbell, Woodstock.
H.13 Allow foreign investors to hold liquor licenses – sponsor Rep. Mike Marcotte, Coventry
H.12 Raise the monetary threshold from $900 to at least $2000 applicable to theft-related crimes, and prohibits organized retail theft. Rep. Lalonde, S. Burlington
H.11 Increase penalties for violations of alcoholic beverage and tobacco laws and to solicitor’s licenses. Rep. Marcotte, Coventry
H.10 Place Vermont on U.S. Eastern Daylight Saving Time year-round. Rep. Sam Young, Greensboro.
H.9 Create new “Be a Water Champ” vehicle registration plate and income tax return checkoff to benefit Lake cleanup fund. Rep. Giambatista, Essex.
H.8 Increase penalty for voyeurism when victim is a minor. Rep. Yantachka, Charlotte.
H.7 Permit out-of-state domestic assault conviction to qualify as a prior conviction.  Rep. Sibilia, Hashim.
H.6 Grant immunity from liability for licensed professionals providing essential services during emergencies. Rep. Masland, Thetford.
H.5 Set standards for qualifications of physician expert witnesses in medical malpractice actions. Rep. Dr. George Till, Jericho-Underhill.
H.4 Establish private right of legal action against unpermitted salvage yards. Rep. Masland, Thetford.
H.3 Create the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group to advise State Board of Education on the adoption of ethnic and social equity studies standards into statewide educational standards. Reps. Christie, Cina, Giambatista, Gonzalez
H.2 Require bikers 16 and under to wear helmets – Sp. Jim Harrison, Chittenden
H.1 Prohibits agreements that prohibit individuals from competing with former employers – Sponsor Martin Lalonde, S. Burlington.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

5 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: New bills make hard drug possession a misdemeanor, ban teacher strikes

  1. H.136 Add 1% surcharge to personal income tax filers over $500,000, revenue to increase earned income tax credit. Rep. Howard.

    Someone might want to point to Mr. Howard what just happened in NY. Us folks that now live in Red states are tired of subsidizing your bloated governments in blue states. Pay your own way but don’t expect a federal tax break. Heck can you deduct you property taxes against VT state income. Pretty sure you nixed that a couple years ago. About when I left, thankfully. So don’t cry when you can’t deduct them at a federal level.

    “New York collected $2.3 billion less income-tax revenue than predicted for December and January, a development that Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed on wealthy residents leaving for second homes in Florida”….

    ““They are investors, they have accountants, they are making informed decisions,” Cuomo said. “This is going to be the tipping point and people will now be making a geographical change.””

    “Cuomo, a Democrat, ridiculed members of his political party who are calling for higher state taxes on the rich, saying the top 1 percent of earners already account for about 46 percent of state income-tax revenue.

    “Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich — and then the rich leave. And then what do you do?”

  2. Getting to be more proposed laws than VT has in population and this is only the Representative side, then there’s the Senate. Legislative job security. Boy, VT must be one sick state that needs major renovation.

  3. Require study of electric companies providing broadband Internet access service. Rep. Briglin, others

    This one has merit. Where I live I receive up to 1g fiber service through my electric company. It took my coop all of 2 years to roll it out. It’s fantastic. Electric companies already ave much of the infrastructure there.

    Question is do you want GMP to be your ISP as well??? I’m sure VT will figure out how to slap a EV surcharge on your internet bill as well, all for the greater good


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