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Author Topic: News from Monpelier Week 12 (2017)  (Read 635 times)
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« on: March 31, 2017, 01:41:20 PM »

On Tuesday the House members arrived ready for a day of debate on about a dozen and a half bills. Early in the day H386 was presented and passed with very little fanfare. This bill corrects the methodology for assessing the Provider Tax rate and in so doing provides an estimated near $200,000 reduction in favor of Franklin County Home Health. A resounding floor voice vote supported the bill and will hopefully convince the Senate to continue its progress to the Governor for his signature. H509 and H513 both made adjustments to education law: setting clear delineation of responsibility for background checks in the latter and setting statewide education tax rates in the former were goals accomplished after some floor debate. The tax rate setting generated dialogue in regards to the need to reform the funding process for education as it supports the spending approved by Town Meeting votes. The Transportation committee presented H511 and responded to questions from the floor with committee support of a few amendments offered before its passage on third reading the next day.
Two bills that were on the calendar for second reading were not brought forward. H 111 an act relating to vital records was postponed to the next day. The bill reforms some of the regulation in regards to records kept by Town Clerks and was passed when presented as amended to reflect concerns for communities’ access to records.  H170 an act relating to possession and cultivation of marijuana by a person 21 years of age or older was committed to the committee on Human Services based on the question of youth education and prevention raised by a proposed amendment. It is unresolved whether the bill will return to the House floor this year.     
The big news for the week was the near double unanimous floor votes to pass H516 the miscellaneous tax bill and H518 the fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget reflects less than a one percent increase in expenditure.  The tax bill was reported first, and without raising any new taxes or fees supports the requested budget. It passed on a unanimous vote. The budget passed with a single ‘no’ vote on roll call Thursday. Before third reading several amendments were proposed to adjust portions of the budget.  Technical corrections were accomplished by two committee amendments and language adjustments made by amendments offered by House members received support by voice vote but no money adjustment amendments were accepted before passage. The word is that the roll call votes on these two bills are an historic event.
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