I’d like to briefly update readers on three important bills before the Senate.
First, the Senate will be debating an increase to the minimum wage later this week. A Senate committee has recommended an increase of $4.50 over a six-year period. This is a more aggressive schedule than current law, which raises the wage by annual inflation.
Contrary to popular myth, most low-wage workers are not part-timers or teenagers. In fact, 55 percent of all Vermont workers earning less than $12.50 an hour earn more than half of their family’s income, and 65 percent of these workers are older than 30. The problem of income inequality affects all other areas of public life, and this bill helps those who the national economy has left behind.
Second, the Senate will be debating a bill this week to lower prescription drug prices by importing them through Canada. It is outrageous that a commonly used medicine like Lipitor costs 46 times more per pill in the U.S. than in Canada. As expected, the pharmaceutical industry, which last year bested its own lobbying spending records, is raising its usual red herrings. We need to do something about the ripoff Vermont patients are experiencing, and this bill is one promising approach.
Third, the Senate passed a bill promoting net neutrality. President Trump’s FCC has reversed earlier policies that prohibited massive telecommunications companies from slowing down some content and generally restricting a free and fair internet. The Senate bill disallows the State from contracting with telecom firms that do not practice net neutrality for their Vermont customers. This is a critical issue for Vermonters and Vermont businesses and schools.
As always, feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any ideas or questions.
Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, lives in Burlington and is President Pro Tempore of the Vermont Senate.