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Author Topic: News from Montpelier 2019 week 18  (Read 800 times)
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« on: May 17, 2019, 06:02:42 PM »

Although this is the last budgeted week of session, the gavel has not fallen for its close. The hope that a Monday session might allow sufficient time to negotiate the bills toward passage was dashed Thursday. Token sessions will happen Monday and Tuesday with Conference Committees getting scheduled and Wednesday is now targeted as the final day.
A disturbance on Thursday compounded the end of session chaos and was a misplaced burst of frustration on behalf of a climate crisis awareness group. It was noted that littering the House Floor with hundreds of index cards was not the best demonstration of respect to our planet and resources. The concern for our environment and people has been ever present in the legislation and the bill being addressed when the commotion occurred related to medical monitoring in the case of exposure to a toxic substance release by any person. The bill, S. 37 passed on a Roll Call vote of 100 ayes to 42 nays after an amendment failed which provided language that would have helped reduce nuisance lawsuits without restricting access to the courts. A Roll Call vote was also taken for S. 55, an act relating to the regulation of toxic substances and hazardous materials. This bill focuses on chemicals of high concern to children and the vote was 137 ayes to 4 nays.
Wednesday two bills dominated the majority of a very long day on the House floor.  S. 23, an act relating to increasing the minimum wage and S. 169, an act relating to firearms procedures both received a great deal of debate and five Roll Call votes including the final vote to move to third read.  An amendment to S. 23 which requests a report on increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rates to address the problems Home Health and other care organizations have with maintaining services on insufficient compensation received unanimous support, but the other Roll Call votes were divided and third read was ordered on a vote of 90 ayes and 53 nays.  The amendments for S. 169 which included exempting gun shows, internet sales and where an individual holds a current relief order, as well as a motion to send it to the Committee on Health Care all failed and the Roll Call vote to order third read was 82 ayes to 58 nays. Bill S. 169 requires a 24-hour waiting period in the purchase of a handgun where a background check is required and walks back some of the components of S. 55 which passed in the 2017-18 session.
Monday and Tuesday floor action allowed many bills to be moved through the system and exemplified the need to be present but patient. Friday was also a test of patience as many Conference Committees tried to negotiate consensus language that could move forward. The Transportation bills, both the T-Bill and the DMV bill are in conference committees. Agreement appeared within reach but then was lost on Friday and negotiations continue.  H. 529, the T-Bill is a must pass bill which means it needs to be resolved before the Budget/Big Bill can be closed. Once the road blocks clear the end will come quickly.
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