Reports for the week of April 7 are below. Please note that work is slowing in the statehouse as several committees are not meting on a regular basis.
Rep. Linda Myers from Essex reports the House Institutions and Corrections Committee spent considerable time on S. 138, an act relating to calculation of criminal sentences and record keeping for search warrants. Institutions and Corrections deals with corrections policy concerning those incarcerated and part of S. 138 deals with credit for time served in computing consecutive and concurrent sentences. The committee examined three sections of the bill and took testimony. Rep. Myers reported the Committee's findings to the House Judiciary Committee and will report those sections on the floor. The Committee also reviewed the Senate version of the Capital Budget Adjustment Bill, H. 785. The Senate will have the bill on the floor next week and the House will decide whether to concur or call for a committee of conference. The Committee looked at the Senate Judiciary changes to H. 765, the serious functional impairment bill, and continued work on two land swap resolutions for ANR.
Rep. Jim Eckhardt from Chittenden reported the House Health Care Committee continues to work on 6 bills sent over by the Senate. The Committee passed out S.199 also known as the immunization bill. The bill then went to the floor where there were over 5 hours of debate before it passed out of the House with the Philosophical Exemption intact. The vote was 126 to 3. Once the Health Dept. gets accurate information the discussion can begin again. It was obvious that the Health Dept. numbers were not calculated correctly with the information available. This bill will give accurate information to make an informed decision on rates of vaccination starting in 2014.
S.200 is a reporting bill requiring health insurance companies to report more information than they currently provide. The insurance companies already provide this information in different formats to the state. This bill is not a big concern to the insurance companies at this time. However, an amendment to the bill that is in committee asks more information such as how much these health insurance companies give to charity, how much they give to lobbyists, and other things. Attached to this bill is the H-764 which deals with Pharmacy Benefit Managers and their relationships with auditing independent pharmacies. I have spent time visiting with my local independent pharmacies to understand the issue. This is a good piece of legislation for them.
Mark Higley of Lowell reports that the Government Operations Committee, on Tuesday pulled their Burlington amendment, and on a vote of 126 to 13 passed the reapportionment bill H.789. However, when it reached the Senate reapportionment committee, Senators Sears and Ashe, proposed an amendment which passed 6-1. This means a conference committee is probably in the future. The amendment puts the House Map in the 24% deviation range and a written response from the Attorney General's office states this is not acceptable. Jim Condos, Secretary of State and Kathy Scheele, director of elections stated the legislature is coming down to the wire and if the bill doesn't pass this soon and with the Governor's signature, we could possibly have to run under our current districts this year, again in 2013 if the new districts get settled and again in 2014. This bill is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate on Tuesday 4/17/12.
Gov. Ops. Committee has attached the embezzlement bill to S.106 (Misc. changes to municipal government law), and is on the calendar for 2nd reading on Tuesday 4/17/12.
Rep. Vicki Strong from Albany reported the House Judiciary Committee has been finishing up work on the Senate bills.
S.203-An act relating to child support enforcement will be on the floor this week. The intention of this bill is to help individuals with
delinquent child support payments to get help with work skills,education, and employment opportunities and to also work out reasonable
payments according to the individual's ability to pay.
H.777-An act pertaining to malpractice insurance for midwives; After further discussion the committee decided to refer the bill back to the
Healthcare Committee without recommendation, and to let the House debate the policy on the floor about exempting midwives from having to have
malpractice insurance for two more years.
S.226- There was further discussion about combating illegal prescription opiates and increasing treatment resources for addiction, and the bill
proposes to spend over $40 million on the use of methadone and buprenorphine treatments for addiction, in conjunction with counseling
requirements for those who receive the treatments. There are hundreds of people on waiting lists for these treatments. The success rate of the
treatments was questioned and not conclusively answered. Other bills discussed and possibly coming to the floor soon;
S.189-An act relating to expanding confidentiality of cases accepted by the court diversion project, which will be combined with H.669-An act
relating to confidentiality of applications for compensation to the victim's compensation board.
S.138-An act relating to calculation of criminal sentences and record keeping for search warrants.
H.706-An act relating to reducing the sale of stolen property. This bill is trying to address the problem of stolen property being sold to pawn
shops for the purpose of obtaining money to buy illegal drugs. The bill will require pawn shops, and other shops that sell used items, to keep a
record of the items that they buy and sell, and to hold the goods for a period of 5 days. This will help law enforcement to have the information
and time to find stolen goods. I personally feel the sale of stolen goods will then happen more through other means, such as on the internet
or across state lines, and that this bill will add more work and regulation to these businesses.
Let me know if you have questions about any of this. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Branagan