We are now heavily into the throes of the legislative season; having just wrapped up our 3rd week. COVID-19 obviously remains the biggest topic and is on the forefront of the Administration’s minds and agenda. Speaking of which, starting Monday Jan. 25, those 75 and older can go to healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine and sign up to receive the vaccine. Those immunizations are going to be administered starting Jan. 27. From there the plan is to keep rolling backwards, age-wise, in 5-10 year increments as more vaccine is received.
There have now been over 100 bills introduced in the House and more come out daily. H.48, an Act relating to authorizing alternative procedures for 2021 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19, passed the House two weeks ago and was signed into law this past week by the Governor. Towns now have the ability to utilize maximum flexibility with their Town Meeting Days and ways of voting that are permitted.
Another bill that is working it’s way through the Legislative process is Senate Bill 9 (S.9). The House amended the original bill with minor changes and sent it back to the Senate. If ultimately passed, this bill will extend the Commissioner of Labor’s authority to waive or amend certain workers’ compensation related deadlines and requirements during a state of emergency related to COVID-19. The proposed date of this extension would be July 1st, 2021. I would expect the Senate to likely move forward with the minor administrative changes the House made and send it forward to the Governor for signing (which I expect he’ll do).
My Committee, House Corrections and Institutions, took a lot of testimony on several topics that we are addressing. Some topics were: alternatives for the Woodside Juvenile Detention Facility; Act 148 - an act related to Justice Reinvestment; testimony from the Corrections Union on work scheduling and continued work on the Capital Bill which falls in our purview. As always, feel free to reach out to me at.
We are now into the third week of the 2021 session. We are all working remotely, and are getting comfortable working in this manner.
Bills that are being introduced on a daily basis are being sent to the appropriate committees for consideration. One bill, H.48-An act relating to authorizing alternative procedures for 2021 annual municipal meetings (e.g., Town Meeting), in response to COVID-19 has already passed both the House and Senate and was delivered to the Governor on Jan. 15 for his approval. If the Governor signs this Bill into law, all municipalities will be notified, and then will be able to decide on how they want to proceed with their annual meeting.
In my Committee (Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife), we will be working on updating Act 250 early on in the session.
A Bill that I think is interesting that was sent to our Committee is H.5-An act relating to hearing protection while hunting. This would allow for a noise suppressor that would reduce the noise of a gunshot by approximately 20 to 35 decibels to a safer, more protective level of hearing. It would not silence the gunshot. Approximately 40 States authorize the use of suppressors while hunting.
Thank you for your time. Be safe and enjoy the winter.
This past Wednesday was the first day of the Vermont Legislature’s 2021 session. For the period beginning now until Town Meeting Day, we have voted to stay in session via remote means (Zoom to be exact). As early March approaches, we will be looking at the status of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and where we sit as a state in regard to the virus. Legislative leadership will remain in close contact with Governor Scott and Vermont’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine to navigate the road ahead as the session progresses and seek further guidance.
On Wednesday, all elected officials in the House and Senate were sworn in for the 2021-2022 Biennium. That same day, committee assignments were given out. Incumbent Representative Leland Morgan remains on the Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee. I was assigned to the Corrections and Institutions Committee. Bills will be forthcoming shortly and we will have various agencies testifying on pending legislation.
There was a first reading on a handful of initial bills. There are many, many more pending for introduction. My hope is that we focus, primarily on bills that aid in economic recovery from the pandemic. Additionally, we need to look hard at how we can reduce the (nearly) 200 million state deficit that we face.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and I am hopeful for a great 2021! Stay safe and stay healthy.
representing you in montpelier