Bills to watch at midsession

By Rep. KATE WEBB

Midyear “crossover” is in motion. Bills that committees hope to move through both chambers and to the governor’s desk this year are now out of committee rooms. Bills that change policy but not funding will head directly to the full House Chamber for debate. Bills that require changes in spending or revenue are now in the “money” committees. These are the four committees that make appropriations, raise revenue or provide loans through bonding. Some bills will find financial support. Some will see modifications. Some must wait another year. And some will “die on the wall,” as we call it, joining a posted list of bills that are unlikely to move forward. The Senate follows a similar process.

So what to expect?  First, the dynamic between the legislature and administration has changed. Last year, the governor brought forward proposals in late April for dramatic changes to education funding and the use of one-time money. This offered little time for review and led to vetoes, extended sessions and the threat of a government shutdown. This year, committees have access to administrative proposals earlier. While there will clearly be some controversial bills coming forward out of the democratically held legislature, more bills are coming out of committee with unanimous tri-partisan support. Although those to the left hold a majority likely able to override a veto, most are focused on not abusing that power. Government works best when we find a way to move the will of the majority while protecting the interests and the concerns presented by the minority.

The revenue, appropriations, transportation and capital bills will come forward next week. This week expect to see bills that cover a diverse range of subjects. While many bills are in the news, here are a few less noticeable ones that are up for debate this week:  H.460: Sealing and Expungement of Criminal Records; H.436: International Wills; H.35: Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance. H.235: Authority to Conduct On-Farm Slaughter; H.132: Housing Discrimination and Domestic Violence; H.330: Statute of Limitations for Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse; H.292: Banners on Highway Rights-of-Way; H.83: Female Genital Mutilation; H.249: Additions to Reach Up Program Benefits; H.518: Fair and Impartial Policing; H:394: Disposition of Remains of Veterans. The big bills come the following week.

Similarly, a few bills in the Senate with less media attention include the following: S.12 State Energy Management Program; S.30: Hydroflurocarbons. S.31: Surprise Billing for Emergency Medical Services; S.73: Ambulatory Surgical Centers,  S.110: Data Privacy and Consumer Protection; S.132: Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents; S.108: Employee Misclassification and Independent Contractors; S.113: Plastic Bags and Single Use Plastic Straws; S.131: Insurance and Securities; and S.141: Nutritional Requirements for Children’s Meals.

You can find these bills, committee activity and the House and Senate calendars on the Legislative website: www.legislature.gov.

Representative Brumsted and I will be at Village Wine and Coffee for “coffee hour” April 13, 8-9 a.m. The best way to reach me during the session is by email: kwebb@leg.state.vt.us. My committee room phone number is 802-828-2228.

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