I serve on the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee with a diverse array of issues in our policy portfolio. Here are a few bills emanating out of our work that passed on the House floor and are now in the Senate.
H.149 updates statutes to reflect the current roles and duties of the Vermont National Guard. The bill addresses outdated language dating back to the Civil War as well as court martial protocols under the Articles of War that were replaced in 1951.
H.313 amends alcoholic beverages laws to support businesses trying to rebound from the State of Emergency. In part, the bill authorizes a continuation of pandemic policies that allows delivery and curbside pickup of alcoholic beverages so long as the alcoholic beverages are accompanied by a food order and the alcohol is in a container that has a tamper evident seal, is labeled as alcohol, and lists the ingredients and serving size of the beverage. This would sunset after two years.
Eugenics Apology Resolution, JRH2, apologizes for the General Assembly’s role and expresses sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of state-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices. The resolution passed on the House floor with a vote of 146-0. Sadly a few legislators that were present in the floor session, ‘walked’ rather than having their vote recorded in our 150-member assembly.
Action should also have been taken on H.157, a Consumer protection bill requiring registration, proof of insurance, and written contracts for residential contractors. The bill is intended to protect against fraud, deception, breach of contract, and violations of law, but not to establish professional qualifications or standards of workmanship, merely a listing of contractors in good standing. The bill is expected to be presented on the House Floor on April 6th, so check the legislative website to see if it passed.
The Committee was also introduced to a raft of bills related to worker protections, the impact of the eviction moratorium that was enacted last May, and S.79, an act to improve rental housing and health. Much work lies ahead on some of these this month, while others will wait until we return in January in the second part of the biennium.
I’ve heard from many constituents with concerns and questions about the sustainability of the pension system for our teachers and state employees. On Friday, Speaker of the House, Rep. Jill Krowinski, called for a task force with all stakeholders including the Governor’s office to meet over the summer to discuss possible revenue sources and plan and benefit changes to ensure the long-term viability of the retirement system.
In the short-term, the House’s Government Operations Committee will investigate how to strengthen the governance structure. The Speaker reminded us, “The legislature doesn’t make investment decisions, but we can change the board structure to make it more transparent, independent, and get more expertise at the table.” Stay tuned as this develops in the next month.
South Burlington Library’s online legislative forum is on April 26 at 6:30 p.m. Please join me and Representatives Ann Pugh, Maida Townsend, and Martin LaLonde along with Senator Thomas Chittenden to discuss what’s happening in the Statehouse. Visit the library event page for Zoom details. Always look forward to hearing from you: email@example.com.