The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

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News from the Ledge

Under the golden dome, this last week offered up some new intensity of debate and discussion, as well as some moments of lightness and celebration.

News coverage rightly focused on the Senate's work with the end-of-life choice bill. The bill did not move smoothly at any step of the way. The bill was approved by one committee, then disapproved but moved to the floor by the next committee. The bill was debated by our 30 senators and adapted by an amendment that effectively struck the entire body of the bill and replaced it with a basic protection from prosecution for physicians enabling an end of life choice.  This effectively eliminated all of the careful constructs from the bill's earlier presentation. Now the Attorney General believes it does not have the safeguards that Vermonters need in such a bill. The House will take it up further down the road.

My house transportation committee continues to hear from all of the key contributors of the transportation budget. When the actual "T-bill" comes before us this coming week, we will need to determine whether to propose a new revenue plan or to make reductions in planned projects while preserving our ability to receive federal funds. Revenue raised through a gas tax are among the considerations, but we will review other options during the next week. There is no popular option at this time, but we need to vote on a plan we feel works in the best interests of our collective constituency.

The General Housing and Military Affairs committee hosted a public hearing at which questions were asked of each of the four candidates for Adjutant General. The newest citizen candidate has an agenda to block the F-35 plans, while each of the other candidates are highly qualified service members. Legislators will vote by secret ballot next Thursday.

On the fun side, I enjoyed seeing Montpelier plastered with hearts by an anonymous pre-dawn team of tape-happy decorators. It is a tradition unique to this town, and though some talk of its waste of paper, ink, and tape, others delight in the extravagance toward a little bit of love.

After a fun Valentine's Day, Friday offered women legislators (and supportive men) an opportunity to celebrate women's suffrage by wearing a twenty's style hat in a walk to the State House. Once within the doors, we were treated to a display of photos of Vermont's first woman legislators. The story has it that none of the men would sit near her on the house floor, but that was soon remedied. Now, there are 64 women (of 150 seats) on the house floor, and Vermont is second only to Colorado in total number of women legislators.

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