By Guy Page
The pace of new bill introductions into the Vermont Legislature has slackened, since the crossover deadline came and went in mid-March. Only 13 bills have been introduced into the Vermont House of Representatives since March 20, including the following:
H.546 would require health insurance coverage for medically necessary gender-affirming surgery and other procedures related to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, regardless of the age of the patient. Rep. Mari Cordes, D-Lincoln, and 59 other sponsors. The bill is in the House Human Services Committee.
The Family Research Council describes the nature and current health insurance status of gender-affirming surgery:
‘Transgender’ individuals are those ‘who transiently or permanently identify with a gender different from their natal gender’ (that is, from their biological sex at birth). Some (not all) who identify as transgender seek surgery, known as ‘gender reassignment surgery,’ to make their bodies resemble that of their preferred gender. While surveys show most who identify as transgender would like to have surgery, many are unable to obtain it due to the high cost, and the fact that many health insurers do not provide coverage for such procedures on the grounds that they are ‘cosmetic’ and/or ‘elective.’ Transgender activists are pushing to overcome such barriers by having these procedures declared ‘medically necessary.’
In 2014 the federal government permitted Medicare funding on a case by case basis. However, in 2016 it refused to allow a blanket mandate. H.546 would require Vermont health insurers to provide coverage.
H.538 would “allow grandparents to petition the court for reasonable visitation rights with a minor child.” The judge would best interests of the child, impact of parent-child relationship, relationship between child and grandparents, animosity between parent and grandparent, the child’s preferences, and other factors. Rep. Vicki Strong, R-Albany. The bill is in the House Human Services Committee.
H.537 would allow prosecution for sexual assault of an individual who engaged in sex with another person that the individual knew, or should have known, was prevented from resisting by intoxication. Rep. L. Sullivan, D-Dorset. The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee.
H.534 would create an enforcement unit to inspect the work of all rehabilitation and new construction projects under building codes, require net-zero building construction by 2022, and require licensing of all building contractors. Rep. S. Campbell, D-St. Johnsbury, and others. The bill is in the House Energy and Technology Committee.
In the Senate:
S.173 would mandate (not just strive for) reduction of carbon emissions by 75 percent by 2050. Sponsored by Sen. A. Clarkson, D-Windham, the bill is in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
Known as “the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act,” S.173 is sponsored by 13 other senators. The bill replaces the current law’s “goal-oriented” language of carbon goals with absolute mandates. It also would give the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources broad powers in setting emissions-based regulations and ‘market mechanisms” such as carbon credits.
Bills introduced since mid-March have virtually no chance of being passed into law this year. However, they are viable for next year’s session.
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.