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1  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2019 week 2 on: January 18, 2019, 03:09:38 PM
The Session’s start up ceremonies were the highlights of last week’s schedule but now committee work is fully underway. Time on the House floor was enhanced by a few all-member training sessions but otherwise brief. Until a committee votes a bill out and sends it to the Clerk’s office there is no Notice or Action calendar to be addressed by the House. The standard schedule for a week in session starts with the House Floor at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, followed by the Party caucuses and Committee time from 1 PM on; Wednesday and Thursday have a House Floor start at 1:00 PM so the Committees can use all morning and the remainder of the afternoon for testimony and discussion; and Friday the House Floor is at 9:30 AM with the rest of the day open to Committee work.
Tuesday afternoon the Transportation committee was introduced to the key individuals from the Joint Fiscal Office and the Office of Legislative Council who will testify to the committee on fiscal and legal aspects of the work of the committee. Wednesday and Thursday committee times were filled with an overview of the Agency of Transportation. Secretary Flynn opened the presentation and introduced the division directors who walked the members through their areas of jurisdiction. An important budgetary point that was brought forward more than once is that the State has only two thirds of the needed funds identified to maintain the transit inventory in good condition.
Friday the committee was walked through the 2019 edition of the Fact Book and annual report found via the following link: https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2020/WorkGroups/House%20Transportation/VTrans%20Overviews/W~Jacqueline%20DeMent~VTrans%20Fact%20Book%202019~1-18-2019.pdf
The book is a compilation of the most recent data from projects and areas of Transportation investment and contains many charts and images, look for the Fairfax resident in one of the pictures on page 8.
Farmer’s Night has long been a tradition in the State House and has evolved to provide near weekly public performances during the open session.  This biennium’s first Wednesday night performance was by Vermont’s Own  40th Army Band. Two of its newest members were introduced to the audience and included Fairfax resident Spc. Lillian Eastman in the Cornet/Trumpet section.
Contact:  bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us or 802-849-6545 home/ 802-828-2228 Vermont State House
2  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2019 week 1 on: January 11, 2019, 04:16:27 PM
The 2019-2020 Session of the Vermont Legislature opened to the pageantry and fanfare of a new biennium. Wednesday the House convened at 10:00 AM for the election of the Speaker and swearing in of all members. The committee assignments were announced that not only reflect the seating of the new members in the Legislature but also the rearrangement of veterans. I am pleased to be returning to the Transportation committee and honored to have been named Vice Chair of the same.
I was also one of three Franklin County and Alburg representatives appointed to the Joint Canvassing Committee to canvas the votes for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor of Accounts, and Attorney General. The report of the Committee was given by Senator White Thursday prior to the administration of the oath of office to those duly elected.
Governor Scott presented his inaugural address Thursday afternoon to the Joint Assembly, distinguished guests and fellow Vermonters. Negative demographic trends identified by the Governor placed Franklin County in good regard comparatively but still included in the wide spread need to recognize and overcome obstacles to achieve the goal of an affordable Vermont for all Vermonters.
Some of the reforms mentioned in the address included health insurance, a voluntary paid family leave plan, helping more individuals purchase electric vehicles, funding water quality initiatives, a high-quality child care system, stronger education system, expand access to broadband and modernize Act 250. After delineating these as well as other areas of focus, Governor Scott stated, “I’m eager to work with each of you to develop policies to revitalize all 14 counties and to ensure that hope and opportunity exists…(in) all 251 towns across our state”.   
In his closing words the Governor quoted Senator Jim Jeffords; “When announcing his retirement in 2005, Senator Jim Jeffords said, ‘In no other job do you have both the freedom and the obligation to solve problems and help people on a daily basis.’ Solve problems and help people. A simple concept and an important reminder of why we’re here. “ 
3  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / Election gratitude on: November 07, 2018, 11:29:10 AM
Thank you to everyone whose vote allows me to continue to serve Fairfax. It truly is my honor. Please continue to reach out to me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us whether you voted for me or not. My desire is to be a representative for our community, not just those who cast their vote for me.
4  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / Election Results on: August 15, 2018, 03:26:22 PM
The election results from the primary are available on the Town Website; www.fairfax-vt.gov.
Thank you to all who voted!
5  Fairfax News / Current News & Events / Current Use Program Annual Filing Requirement on: August 06, 2018, 01:20:57 PM
Anyone who owns land in the Current Use program or is contemplating applying for Current Use status should be aware of the filing timelines of the VT Tax Department.

Property owners who want to enroll in the Current Use program can do so online at http://tax.vermont.gov/property-owners/current-use.  The application has to be submitted by September 1, 2018, for the 2019 tax year.

Agricultural property owners who are already enrolled are required to submit Form CU-313 annually by November 1 in order to maintain their status. These forms are mailed to enrolled property owners by the Tax Department in September.  The annual filing requirement applies to agricultural land only.  Forest management land is required to file every 10 years.

Since the annual filing requirement was established in 2015, several owners throughout the state missed filing and were dropped from the CU rolls this year, causing their property taxes to increase substantially.  Because of this, the Tax Department accepted appeals of the change in status last month.  Those who appealed were allowed an additional 30 days to file Form CU-313 to be re-enrolled and qualify for the tax relief this year.
6  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 Special Session on: June 26, 2018, 10:52:47 AM
The Vermont House met yesterday to reconsider the vote taken in the last minutes of June 22nd; literally as it was closing on midnight of that day. After the introduction and consideration of three amendments H16 was passed to the Senate on a voice vote with the amendment proposed by Representative Toll. The House concurred with the Senate with three instances of amendment. These were considered minor edits by the Senate and the House proposal was accepted on a voice vote. The Senate suspended the rules to allow rapid passage of the bill to the Governor’s desk, where it arrived Monday afternoon. A statement has been released by several news media and posted on Governor Phil Scott’s official Vermont website that he will allow the bill to become law without his signature. The property tax rate battle will be fought anew in the next biennium.
7  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 18 on: May 13, 2018, 12:27:40 AM
The farewell ceremony was held Friday for the session’s last group of pages with a speech by the Speaker and the awarding of pins. The page program supports the work of the General Assembly and this last group brought a face from home. It was a joy to share these last weeks with Charlotte Wood and I wish her well as she returns to BFA Fairfax for the rest of the school year.
An inordinate amount of bills were still in process for the final week of session. Floor action on Wednesday was pulled up short by Rep Alice Emmons, the Dean of the House when the report to be voted was not even in a written form that could be assessed. Bills were being called up for action prior to being entered on to the Notice Calendar which disallows the reading of the pertinent language for proposed amendments. The goal is to return Saturday and close the session. This requires a lot of suspending of rules and that at least an electronic copy of bills is made available prior to a requested vote. Many individuals that support the General Assembly worked late Friday night and early Saturday morning to provide the language and supportive reports needed to move the work of the session to the finish line.
The Transportation committee of conference on H.917 was able to come to agreement and both it and the S. 272, the DMV bill conference reports were voted on in order to pass them on to the Governor. Final passage would allow changes to be made that affect the Motor Vehicle inspections. Unfortunately H.586, the bill introduced to allow the Fire and Rescue squads to be exempt from the Rooms and Meals tax whether a fundraising event is held on Squad premises or not has lost its battle for passage. Its language was removed by the Senate from H.922 due to a concern that was raised it would open the door to other service agencies to make the same request and cause an impact to anticipated tax income.
The Big Bill H924 was passed on a roll call vote of 117 to 14 just before midnight Saturday and the session ended with a farewell from Governor Scott.
8  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 17 on: May 04, 2018, 05:37:50 PM
The House Transportation committee took testimony from legislative council and affected parties on changes the Senate is proposing to the T-bill. The bill is on the Senate calendar to be voted next week with changes that may indicate the DMV bill is not going to make it to final stages of law. The Senate amendments to the DMV bill were not accepted by the House and a committee of conference was appointed by the Speaker.
There was a great deal of floor action as rules were suspended allowing bills to move forward from the Notice calendar to the floor and actions relayed to the Senate; both without the 24 waiting period that rules require. Roll calls this week were requested on  S.105 an act relating to consumer justice enforcement, S.175 an act relating to the wholesale importation of prescription drugs into Vermont, S.197 an act relating to liability for toxic substance exposures or releases, S.260 an act relating to the cleanup of State waters, S.261 an act relating to mitigating trauma and toxic stress during childhood by strengthening child and family resilience, S.281an act relating to the mitigation of systemic racism and JRH17 Joint resolution opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rollback of federal motor vehicle emission standards; the details are available on the legislature.vermont.gov website. The end to the session is close.
Please contact me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us, 802-849-6545, or by mail at 7 Lily Rd. The Sergeant at Arms office in the State House, (802) 828-2228, will see messages reach me as well.
9  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 16 on: April 27, 2018, 12:33:49 PM

The stage is being set to address the concern raised by recent violent actions and the near miss of such. Thursday, S. 267 to be retitled after passage, an act relating to attempts, got to the House floor after repeated postponements, only to be once more postponed two legislative days. Language currently proposed in the amendment offered by the Judiciary committee states that “a person is guilty of an attempt to commit an offense under this subsection if, with the purpose of committing the offense, he or she performs any act that is a substantial step toward the commission of the offense. A ‘substantial step’ is conduct strongly corroborative of the actor’s intent to complete the commission of the offense and that advances beyond mere preparation.”  Examples of what could be held to constitute a substantial step are offered and provide a lower level of proof for intent than current law requires. The committee vote for the amendment was 6 for and 5 against allowing it to pass. Such a split vote certainly leaves no clear guidance for the House at large as to the veracity of the language and whether it provides a solution to the judicial problem that it addresses.
The Senate passed H. 25 with a strike all amendment that includes the change of title to be, an act relating to domestic terrorism, on a unanimous roll call. Friday the House voted to postpone action on this two legislative days. The language being proposed defines “domestic terrorism” to mean “engaging in, or taking steps to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this State with the intent to; (A) cause death or serious bodily injury to multiple people; or (B) threaten any civilian population with mass destruction, mass killings, or kidnapping.”  Both H. 25 and S. 267 are intended to provide law enforcement the ability to respond to an intended unlawful act before it has been fully implemented. With two weeks left in the session the work is to find consensus on the language.
The Transportation committee presented S. 272, the DMV miscellaneous law bill to the House, including the response to half a dozen amendments before getting a strong roll call vote in support of it. A few of the amendments brought up points that were recommended to be addressed by next year’s committee and two were added to the language as passed. Rep. Keefe’s amendment offered language to require the development of a program of waivers related to the emissions component of the State’s inspection program, consistent with the requirements of the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations, which was accepted. Also accepted was an amendment offered by the Transportation committee Chair that loosens the language concerning a nonresident right to operate a motor vehicle on a Vermont highway if he or she possesses an International Certificate Translation of Driver’s License, or an English translation of the home country license prepared by an accredited translator.
Please contact me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us, 802-849-6545, or by mail at 7 Lily Rd. The Sergeant at Arms office in the State House, (802) 828-2228, will see messages reach me as well.

10  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 15 on: April 20, 2018, 11:58:44 AM
The Transportation committee was prepared to present S. 272 on the House floor but it was sent to the Ways and Means committee for final approval of changes that had minor effect on the revenue to the State. The bill is poised to be on notice for floor discussion Tuesday. Prior to officially receiving H. 917 the committee began reviewing sections that the Senate has altered in their strike all amendment.
In the original H. 917 language existing statute was enhanced by the House committee to support safety of vulnerable users of roads with the direction that vehicles need to slow down when approaching vulnerable users. This was expanded in the Senate by an amendment to the bill that includes language similar to what is in a National campaign to protect stopped utility-type vehicles displaying flashing lights and their users titled “Slow Down to Get Around”.  The accident in St Albans that killed a Casella worker last summer brought this issue to the forefront.
Friday morning the committee heard testimony on a floor amendment that is being considered to address the concern raised by ice blocks flying from the roofs of vehicles and causing harm to other users of the road. A recent incident in Vermont drew the attention back to this issue by the sponsor of H. 367, an act relating to requiring the removal of snow and ice from vehicles operated on public highways. There is national attention on this issue that has been titled Ice Missile legislation. 
Thursday night a Cabaret to highlight member’s ‘talents’ was held as a fund-raiser for the Vermont Food Bank - Rutland Distribution Center  This annual tradition raises a few dollars for a good cause and brings the members together for a bit of light hearted roasting as the session comes near to its end.
A sign of the session coming to its final weeks is the cessation of Senate morning committees. They will be held on an as need basis to allow for morning floor start. Bills are moving rapidly between House and Senate as final amendments are made, agreed to, or Conference committees created to iron out the differences. 
People continue to contact me with thoughts and concerns regarding bills and resolutions they have seen introduced. I appreciate the information on what concerns fellow Fairfax residents. Please contact me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us, 802-849-6545, or by mail at 7 Lily Rd. The Sergeant at Arms office in the State House, (802) 828-2228, will see messages reach me as well.
11  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 14 on: April 13, 2018, 01:55:55 PM
The season of Conference Committees has begun. H. 562, an act relating to parentage proceedings was recommended to be moved to committee of conference rather than accept the Senate proposal of amendment. One of the Senate proposals of amendment echoed one that failed in the House on a roll call vote of 70 to 74. The language would guarantee that any genetic sample taken pursuant to this section of law would be destroyed after final determination of the case.

 S.29, an act relating to decedents’ estates was presented with amendments by House Judiciary. The bill updates probate law from outdated language regarding gender but also makes some substantive changes including reducing from three to one year the time frame for filing creditor’s claims against the estate.  S. 101, an act relating to the conduct of forestry operation passed on a roll call vote of 127 to 4. The bill is similar to “right to farm” language in statute and protects forestry operations from nuisance lawsuits.

The Transportation committee has spent the week working on amending S. 272, an act relating to miscellaneous changes to laws related to motor vehicles or in brief the DMV bill. Substantial testimony and debate surrounded the language that supported the changes being made to the Vehicle Inspection Manual. DMV has spent the last six months compiling a major overhaul with the input of many stakeholders and has now begun the process to formally change the rules. The check engine light is a component that is required for air quality and is under EPA oversight. Staff from the Department of Environmental Conservation presented concerns for the conditional passes that are being granted and shared information on assistance that can be granted for the required repairs as well as Federal conditional pass opportunities.

HR 23 a resolution that addresses video game violence was passed on a vote of 107 to 12.
It makes a request to the Executive Branch to examine the connection between the exposure to excessive media and video game violence and the propensity to engage in gun violence and to consider submitting a legislative proposal on restricting the sale of violent video games to persons below a designated age. This request ties in with the Violence Protection Task Force the Governor spoke to creating by Executive Order in his speech at the signing of the three gun bills Wednesday.

People continue to contact me with thoughts and concerns regarding bills and resolutions they have seen introduced. I appreciate the information on what concerns fellow Fairfax residents.  Please contact me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us, 802-849-6545, or by mail at 7 Lily Rd. The Sergeant at Arms office in the State House, (802) 828-2228, will see messages reach me as well.
12  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 13 on: April 06, 2018, 02:24:26 PM
Twelfth grade BFA students visited the State House on Thursday and Friday to observe committee meetings, floor sessions and interview individual legislators regarding bills they have been tracking in their Senior Social Studies classes this semester. These students are wonderful ambassadors for our community. Other Fairfax residents were present this week giving testimony on legislation before committees, offering coffee and information in the cafeteria and as a member of the final group of Pages, a program that provides a wonderful opportunity for eighth graders to participate in our State Government first hand for six weeks.
Members of the Transportation committee started the week at a press conference to recognize the Traveling Memorial of Workzone Fatalities.  The goal of the organization is to reach zero deaths within workzones through increasing public awareness of the need to be alert and reduce speed as the season of road construction gears back up, “Slow down to get around”. Later the committee took testimony from the Chief Financial Officer of the Agency of Transportation on the FFY2018 Federal Transportation Appropriations Act. The good news he shared is that the core highway and transit programs that account for over 90% of our federal transportation funding are increased by approximately 2.2% increase as compared to last year.
The VTrans Training Center Manager spoke to the challenges and goals for workforce recruitment, development and retention.  A program was highlighted that is proving an effective recruitment tool. The VTrans/Vermont Tech pathway has multiple points of entry. From juniors in high school to career changers to veterans looking to translate their service experience into a career, the pathway offers flexibility that suits individual needs.
The Branch manager for Vermont Local Roads came with the other two staff members to present the 2018 legislative report to the Transportation committee. Vermont Local Roads is a resource that provides workshops (one was held in Fairfax in June of 2017), as well as technical assistance to Vermont municipalities.
J.H.R. 15, Joint resolution requesting the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and Congress to adopt more effective measures to enforce the federal Do Not Call list and to police illegal robocalls was taken up and adopted on the part of the House. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance for further action.
People continue to contact me with thoughts and concerns regarding bills and resolutions they have seen introduced. I appreciate the information on what concerns fellow Fairfax residents.  Please contact me at bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us, 802-849-6545, or by mail at 7 Lily Rd. The Sergeant at Arms office in the State House will pass on queries as well.
13  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 12 on: March 30, 2018, 12:20:22 PM
Representative Taylor, of Colchester shared a baseball story for devotion Tuesday which offered the reminder that it is critical in judging the truth of a statement to know the perspective of the one making it. As we spent over six more hours debating the merits of S. 55 and another slew of amendments before a final roll call vote of 89 yeas and 54 nays to send it to the Senate, it was helpful to remember the differences of perspective we each hold. Other actions taken by the House during the week give law enforcement authority in establishing extreme risk protection orders, S. 221 and provide assistance to correct the erroneous GPS information in the 911 system for two thirds of Vermont schools. 
The Capital bill passed last year was designed as a two year budget so the bill presented this year is an adjustment to the plan. Capital construction and State bonding budget adjustment, H.923 includes among its expenditures the appropriation of five million dollars to support the school safety and security grant program, provides funding to water quality programs, mental health needs and adult career and technical education programs.
Several announcements on the House floor Friday highlighted young Vermonters. The devotion was offered by the Speaker and directed at the outgoing class of pages. One of the many services they performed was to connect us to our constituents through the numerous messages received by the Sergeant at Arms office. HCR 295 a resolution congratulating the Vermont teams for participating in the 2017-18 FIRST & FFL robotics competitions was read and included the team from Fairfax. Several of the teams set up and demonstrated their projects in Room 11 for visitors who included Governor Scott.  Lastly, four exchange students from Turkey, Pakistan and Germany, who are staying with Vermont families and visiting the State House to see our government in action, were introduced and recognized by the House.

14  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / News from Montpelier 2018 week 11 on: March 24, 2018, 09:45:44 AM
This has been a busy week with the money bills introduced on the floor by the committees on Education, Transportation, Ways and Means, and Appropriations. A small but significant component of H 922, a bill from Ways and Means making numerous revenue changes, allows for the Fairfax Fire Department’s Calcutta to be exempt from Rooms and Meals tax. The committee was open to the intent of H 586 but was concerned that as worded it made the exemption too broad. The following language was agreed to by the committee and passed the House; “if the organization or association is a fire department, as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 1951, or provides emergency medical services or first responder services, as defined under 24 V.S.A. § 2651, it is not necessary that the meal be served on the premises of the organization to qualify as an exclusion from “taxable meal” under this subdivision;” and will be in place for next year’s Calcutta if the Senate and Governor support it. Thank you to Dave Yergeau for bringing the issue forward.

The third reading of the Budget was eclipsed by the debate on the Judiciary committee’s presentation of a strike all version of S.55. Judiciary voted the bill out of committee on a 6-5-0 vote which ensured rigorous debate on the floor. Numerous roll call votes punctuated the discussion of each component of the bill as divided and reordered, including an initial vote as to whether the bill should be postponed which failed on a 61 to 85 roll call vote. Section 1-5 was the language that passed the Senate concerning the disposition of unlawful and abandoned firearms by the Department of Public Safety. This portion of S.55 passed on a 141-2 roll call vote. Section 9, Bump-Fire Stocks: Possession Prohibited passed with the agreement that the effective date would be delayed to give owners the opportunity to comply without becoming immediate criminals on its passage. The roll call vote was 119-25. Section 6, Firearms Transfers: Background Checks, had an amendment that would have added the ability for an individual to request their own background pre-check from a law enforcement agency. The vote went against the motion 57-89. The language for Firearms Transfers: Background Checks, section 6, passed as presented on a 83-61 roll call. This does allow for a broadly defined family member transfer without requiring review. The debate on section 8, Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices included a concern that enforcement of this section was challenged by the fact that  no serial number or manufacturing date is on the item to determine prior ownership. The roll call on this section was 79-66. Section 7, Sale of Firearms to Minors Prohibited, elicited a lengthy discussion regarding the question of age of majority and the tradition of youth hunting. The language allows for the sale to occur without an age limit if the buyer has satisfactorily completed the Hunter Safety course. This passed 88-56. Finally after voice votes on changing the effective dates for Section 9, which passed, and Section 6, which failed, S.55 as amended was voted on to be read a third time on a roll call vote of 85-59.

H.924, Making Appropriations For the Support of Government, the Big Bill as it is known, provided for the future financial needs of Vermont as well as the current needs of Vermonters while maintaining an extremely low growth rate.  It passed with technical corrections offered by the Appropriations committee on a Division vote. This method gives a count of the Yeas and Nays but does not give individual members vote.. The tally was 122-10 and the House adjourned just after 9 P.M..

15  Fairfax News / Political Issues/Comments / Re: Bill Doyle's Town Meeting Day Survey March 2018 on: March 20, 2018, 02:27:10 PM
Thank you Henry. I appreciate your help as always. You provide a valued service to the Town of Fairfax through this website.
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