Second Half of Legislative Session Begins

It was great to see so many people at the town meetings in each of the district towns last week. Bridgewater’s meeting was unique in the sense that it was held at the Long Trail Brewery, which had closed its popular restaurant on Tuesday to allow the town to have its meeting there. I received several great questions on various hot topics in Montpelier from gun control to property taxes and a $15 minimum wage.

And congratulations to all newly elected and re-elected select board members, school board members and other town office holders. These are the folks committed to making a difference in our communities, often serving in volunteer capacities.

As I reported at each of the meetings, last week marked the halfway point of the legislative session. A number of proposals still on committee walls are likely dormant for the balance of the year, while many other initiatives are passing from the House to the Senate or vice versa.

In the wake of marijuana legalization signed into law in January (effective July 1), the Vermont House approved legislation that would allow law enforcement to use a saliva test when driver impairment is in question. The tests could be used to screen drivers for marijuana and six other drugs. While the measure passed the House on a wide margin, passage in the Senate this session is far from guaranteed.

In an effort to keep discussions on a carbon tax alive, the House Natural Resources Committee passed out a bill to spend $100,000 to study the issue some more. H.763 advanced along party lines. The Governor has indicated he does not support a carbon tax nor any bill to spend state money to study carbon taxation.

The House gave approval to legislation, H.614, which would require a fireworks retailer to let customers know that they need a permit to use fireworks and must comply with any local ordinances regulating them.

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