By Guy Page
The Vermont Senate this week removed two controversial sections of H.25, the “domestic terrorism” bill, then approved it and sent it to the House.
An early version of the bill defined any firearm as a potential “weapon of mass destruction” and permitted a 20-year prison sentence for “threatening to engage in” the death or injury of multiple persons.
However, the Senate removed both phrases in its final bill passed in response to the planned mass shooting at Fair Haven High School. It allows a two-year sentence for deadly weapon (including gun) possession with intent to injure one person, and a 10-year sentence for possession with intent to injure multiple persons. It also defines domestic terrorism as “taking substantial steps” to undertaking a mass killing, rather than merely “threatening to engage.” The entire section on “weapons of mass destruction” was removed.
House Judiciary is discussing similar legislation with even stiffer penalties, much to the concern of a committee member who said in an informal conversation Wednesday, “We’re going to throw people in jail for life for having a bad thought.”
Medical Marijuana “cure all” bill gets hearing – the House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing Thursday, April 25 on a Senate-approved S.216, allowing the prescription of marijuana for any medical condition. Current law allows prescription for a limited number of conditions. The Senate-approved bill also struck from an earlier version the “local option” allowing towns to refuse a medical marijuana dispensary. Current medical marijuana law does provide the “local option.”
Researchers show that teen consumption of marijuana grew 50 percent in Colorado during its “medical marijuana” era from 2006-2011, thanks in part to youth-oriented advertising.
Interested Vermonters may contact Human Services Committee legislators:
- Rep. Ann Pugh, Chair
- Rep. Sandy Haas, Vice Chair
- Rep. Francis McFaun, Ranking Member
- Rep. Marianna Gamache
- Rep. Brian Keefe
- Rep. Michael Mrowicki
- Rep. Daniel Noyes
- Rep. Kelly Pajala
- Rep. Carl Rosenquist
- Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano
- Rep. Theresa Wood, Clerk
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Commission approved – the Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to H.378, creation of an Artificial Intelligence Commission, a 12-member body to “make recommendations on the responsible growth of Vermont’s emerging technology markets, the use of artificial intelligence in state government, and state regulation of the artificial intelligence field.” H.378 will likely receive final approval and go to Gov. Phil Scott for approval.
Systemic racism bill needs $$ from Appropriations – S.281, mitigating systemic racism, was sent Tuesday, April 24 to the House Appropriations Committee. S.281 establishes the office of an independent, state-supported Chief Civil Rights Officer and Civil Rights Advisory Panel to identify and work to eradicate systemic racism within government. The Senate-approved bill requires that “at least three members of the commission shall be of color” – in effect a “racial quota” that was initially protested by some senators. It also calls for $75,000 funding, which must be reviewed by House Appropriations.
Gender-free single-toilet public restroom bill approved – H.333, requiring single-occupant rest-rooms with locks on the outer door to be designated as “gender-free” has been approved by the Legislature. According to a news reporter who attended hearings, the law will not require gender-free designations for restrooms to be used by more than one person at a time.
Click here for a complete list of all bills approved by the 2018 Legislature.
Superior Court judge named – the Senate April 24 confirmed the appointment of former VT Attorney General’s office lawyer Scott Kline of Essex as a Superior Court judge.
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, Divestment Facts, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Church at Prison.