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Author Topic: News from Montpelier week 10 (2017)  (Read 698 times)
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« on: March 17, 2017, 02:44:53 PM »

Tuesdays floor debate lasted four hours as the snow piled up outside. The Transportation committee presented H494, the funding bill and with a few informational questions answered, passed and on Wednesday was given final approval to move on to the Senate. Of the dozen or so bills on the calendar S79, an act relating to freedom from compulsory collection of personal information, garnered a majority of debate time. Despite the Senate’s unanimous support the House members engaged in passionate dialogue before voting the bill through to third read on a roll call vote.  Floor debate on H218 also ended with a roll call vote after extended debate. This bill relates to adequate shelter of dogs and cats and was amended by the committee before the third read where it too passed. The State employees were sent home at noon but many House members continued committee work until the end of the afternoon.

Wednesday’s floor calendar contained the final vote on the bills discussed Tuesday, so allowed most of the day be dedicated to committee work. Final adjustments to what Transportation is calling the Safety bill were made over the course of the rest of the week as testimony was taken from interested parties.  A few of the changes that this bill makes to standing law are more of the technical variety, but the issue of impaired drivers is a motivating factor for some sections. Language is included that will make Vermont’s implied consent statute consistent with a recent US Supreme Court decision and also allow additional medical professionals to conduct an evidentiary blood draw with a ceiling to what can be charged for the draw.  Marijuana is added as a banned substance in the ban on open container or consumption law while driving or in an operating motor vehicle and the requirement that a ticket be issued for the primary violation that caused a traffic stop is waved to allow fines be issued for a seatbelt violation. There must still be a primary violation that gave rise to the traffic stop but the officer has discretion in giving a warning on that point.

Crossover date has arrived; bills that don’t leave a committee today will have to wait until next year for action. As in anything, exceptions may be made but aside from the money committees the rule is considered applicable. The floor calendar will start to show more bills coming for debate and action and committees will take testimony and study those that have come from the other chamber. Transportation will begin work on the DMV bill, S127 and determine if any of the remaining miscellaneous bills that have been assigned to the committee are appropriate to include.
Please continue to 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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