Statehouse Headliners: Guv signs $6.1 billion budget, vetoes medical monitoring

By Guy Page

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday signed into law H.542, the $6.11 billion state budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, which begins July 1.

Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott said he signed the 2019-20 $6.1 billion state budget because it meets major priorities while limiting spending increases to the same as wage growth in Vermont.

“While keeping new spending to a level that Vermonters can afford” (3 percent, Vermont’s current wage growth), Gov. Scott said at a State House press conference the budget meets these major priorities:

  • Retraining workers (10% workforce development increase) and attracting new workers to Vermont ($7500 for moving expenses for workers relocating to Vermont)
  • $6 million more for childcare and $3 million more for higher education, which “moves Vermont closer to a cradle to career education system.” In the last two and a half years state funding for childcare is up 30%.
  • Provides more pay for frontline mental health workers.
  • Funds state water cleanup without raising new taxes.
  • Spends half of the fiscal year surplus on reducing pension fund deficit.

Gov. Scott also announced Monday, June 17 he had vetoed S.37, the medical monitoring bill. This bill would have required toxic chemical users and manufacturers to pay for the medical monitoring costs of people who claim they have been exposed to toxic substances, and can get an “expert witness” to convince a jury of the exposure and its potential harm.

“As a state, we have shown a significant commitment to ensuring Vermonters have clean and safe water and have existing legal avenues to pursue bad actors who jeopardize Vermonters’ health – and we will continue to do so,” Gov. Scott said. ““While we made progress this year in the discussion about medical monitoring, S.37 as passed, lacks the clarity needed by Vermont employers who our state relies on to provide good jobs. Numerous Vermont employers have expressed concerns to me, and to Legislators, that the unknown legal and financial risks, and increased liability, is problematic for continued investment in Vermont.”

Gov. Scott Monday, June 17 announced he has signed the following bills:

  • S.30, the regulation of hydrofluorocarbons. This law bans sale of refrigerants now used to reduce the ozone layer but have also been found to emit greenhouse gases.
  • S.40, testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schoolsand child care facilities (Click here to view press release).
  • S.107, elections corrections – requires governor to notify voters of a statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment approved by the Legislature.
  • S.111, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (Click here to view Governor Scott’s signing ceremony remarks).
  • S.113, the management of single-use products, notably plastic bags, containers and straws. This law will take effect in July, 2020.
  • H.16, boards and commissions.
  • H.63, weatherization, a Public Utility Commission proceeding, and unclaimed beverage container deposits – this law funds increased home weatherization through Efficiency Vermont and creates a joint climate change committee of the Legislature to oversee climate-related policy when the Legislature is not in session.
  • H.524, health insurance and the individual mandate.
  • H.525, miscellaneous agricultural subjects, including removal of the hazard to health of unborn babies on warning labels on unpasteurized milk containers.

Previously, Gov. Scott has signed into law the following legislation:

  • S.7, social service integration with Vermont’s health care system
  • S.31, informed health care financial decision making and the consent policy for the Vermont Health Information Exchange
  • S.41, regulating entities that administer tax-advantaged accounts for health-related expenses
  • S.73, licensure of ambulatory surgical centers
  • S.112, earned good time
  • S.131, insurance and securities
  • S.134, background investigations for State employees with access to federal tax information
  • H.132, adopting protections against housing discrimination for victims of domestic and sexual violence
  • H.135, the authority of the Agency of Digital Services
  • H.292, miscellaneous natural resources and energy subjects
  • H.508, approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Bennington
  • H.514, miscellaneous tax provisions
  • H.536, education finance

And these bills:

Signed by governor
Act 45  Family court jurisdiction of juveniles up to age 25
Act 44  State hemp program
Act 43  limiting prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment
Act 42   capital construction and State bonding
Act 41  public education for fair and impartial policing
Act 40  miscellaneous: alimony, medical marijuana, juveniles, campus sex crime task force
Act 39  no statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of minor
Act 38  town clerk recording fees and town restoration and preservation reserve funds
Act 37  repealing the statute of limitations for civil actions based on childhood sexual abuse
Act 36  small probate estates
Act 35  the regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides
Act 34  eligibility for farm-to-school grant assistance
Act 33  approval of the dissolution of Rutland Fire District No. 10
Act 32  sealing and expungement of criminal history records
Act 31  Required reporting on hydro, efficiency, net-metering; pipeline excavation rules; district thermal heat funding; regulation of energy storage; small hydro rates
Act 30  professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation
Act 29  taxation of timber harvesting equipment
Act 28  taxation of electronic cigarettes
Act 27  increasing the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age
Act 26  Rural Health Services Task Force
Act 25  miscellaneous changes to the State’s retirement systems
Act 24  acknowledgment or denial of parentage
Act 23  Farm-to-Plate Investment Program
Act 22  restricting retail and Internet sales of electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and tobacco paraphernalia in Vermont
Act 21  the regulation of polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking and surface waters
Act 20  miscellaneous banking provisions
Act 19  allowing reflective health benefit plans at all metal levels
Act 18  Indigenous Peoples’ Day replacing Columbus Day
Act 17  determining the proportion of health care spending allocated to primary care
Act 16  aggravated murder for killing a firefighter or an emergency medical provider
Act 15  miscellaneous provisions affecting navigators, Medicaid records, and the Department of Vermont Health Access
Act 14  technical corrections
Act 13  increasing the number of examiners on the Board of Bar Examiners from nine to 11 members
Act 12  the time frame for the adoption of administrative rules
Act 11   international wills
Act 10  a uniform process for foreign credential verification in the Office of Professional Regulation
Act 9  the disposition of the remains of veterans
Act 8  sexual exploitation of a person in law enforcement officer custody
Act 7   second degree aggravated domestic assault
Act 6  fiscal year 2019 budget adjustments
Act 5  extending the moratorium on home health agency certificates of need
Act 4   lead poisoning prevention
Act 3  captive insurance companies and risk retention groups
Act 2  limiting senatorial districts to a maximum of three members
Act 1   ethnic and social equity studies standards for public schools

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.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and Guy Page