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Author Topic: News from Monpelier week 9 (2017)  (Read 550 times)
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« on: March 03, 2017, 03:01:01 PM »

The Legislature is half way through the 2017 session. Eighteen weeks are planned for in the FY 17 budget with March 17th as the crossover date for regular bills (money bills have to the 24th).  That allows the alternate chamber of the General Assembly time to further the work on a bill and move it for final action or it will go idle until the 2018 session. Several Judiciary committee bills were debated on the floor this week. The debate ran long on Thursday as the concern for the rights of society as a whole, and offenders who have served their sentences, were voiced. The committee supported a reduction of the intervening time that would allow a person to have their record sealed or expunged in certain circumstances. The main goal is to allow individuals who have atoned to society and wish to be a contributing member to no longer have the obstruction a record can present. The roll call votes showed a strong difference of opinion over the intervals being sufficient to assure a person has truly reformed. H50 came to the floor this week as well and was voted through to the Senate. This bill extends the current expiration date of the telecommunications siting law. There was original language to allow the law to expire which would require these projects to be permitted by Act 250 but that was pulled back. Both of these are examples of hours that have been spent in committee and on the House Floor crafting language that may end up being completely altered by the other body. This is not to say the work is unnecessary but only a step in the process.

The Transportation committee will be presenting H494 when we return from Town Meeting break. This is the money bill for the Transportation portion of Vermont’s FY2018 budget and also incorporates several miscellaneous changes to transportation-related law. Testimony was taken during the week from witnesses on topics that encompass several individual bills with safety implications that will be rolled into a Transportation Safety bill.  A young man spoke who was injured while riding an ATV in a fully legal and permitted manner by an “invisible” chain placed across the trail. Whether law can be crafted that will prevent this hazard from injuring anyone in the future or not, it is a simple fix all land owners can provide. Survey ribbon is only a few dollars a roll at the Hardware store and a few foot-long sections tied around any of these chain style fences would provide visibility to a traveler. The committee is hearing testimony on means to amend impaired driver law to include language in regards to drugs other than alcohol. The third main bill the Transportation committee will spend time on is the miscellaneous DMV bill, currently in the Senate.

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. Friday I had the pleasure of meeting with a group visiting the State House during school vacation week. Their tour was going to include the Vermont Historical Museum next door so I look forward to hearing a report on their thoughts from the day. Montpelier is a great destination for a day trip and I hope anyone who takes the time to make the journey during the session will allow me to provide a welcome to the state house. 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.
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