There was hope for a Saturday finish of session, but as I write
this, Saturday has come, and so has the delay of our final work. We
adjourned around 7:50 p.m. Friday evening, and instead of aiming
for a next day return, we were asked to plan on a Monday morning
session, with a likely extension into Tuesday.
After passing S. 38, the immigrant driver privilege bill, last
Tuesday, we marched through many bills, including several that
brought on long debate.
The Government Operations Committee presented a revision of
campaign finances that includes a limitation on allowable
contributions from independent entities. This flies in the face of
the Citizens United decision to allow unlimited super PAC
contributions. The legislative majority supports a restriction on
contributions that have the potential to diminish voter voices in
elections they should be deciding. The bill strengthens the
democratic process, and according to several legal opinions, it
should hold up to any potential lawsuit.
Another long debate occurred around the bill, H.112, to require
food labels that disclose genetically engineered ingredients. The
bill excludes dairy and meat products, but expects that other
products to reveal any GMO (genetically modified organism) they
contain. Some opponents fear that prices will rise, producers will
stop distributing to Vermont, and Vermont will have empty food
Others argue that an expensive lawsuit is imminent and is reason
to stand still on this issue. Vermonters want to know what they are
buying and consuming, and the constituent support for this
legislation helped to drive its successful passage.
If we successfully move forward with this, we will join 64
countries around the world who have made this happen.
Monday, May 13, will allow the House to revisit the Senate's new
revisions of S.77, the end-of-life choice bill. The new bill has
the many original Oregon-style process requirements, with some new
adjustments. The Senate version also proposes to sunset this
procedural model after three years, and return to the more basic
physician protection bill that came out of their first work with
the bill. This is an interesting kind of compromise, and it is hard
to know how it will affect final support.
Another bill returning the House on Monday is H.200, the
marijuana decriminalization bill. I believe the Senate amended the
substance amounts, recognizing that hashish needs to be restricted
to much smaller amounts than marijuana, but that the rest of the
bill remains intact.
The end-of-year process remains full of uncertainty, but it
seems that there will be little more than this agenda before the
budget bill arrives. When the budget has been decided, the session
will adjourn until January of 2014. At that time, bills that got
held up or remained on the committee walls will have another chance
to move forward. In the meantime, I will hope to find time to visit
in each the towns in my district and hear about your response to
the year's actions and your hopes for the future.
Please feel free to contcat me at email@example.com or