At the close of Town Meeting Week the Legislature is gearing up for some hectic activity. Friday, March 15th is crossover – the day by which bills need to be voted out of committee so they can “cross over” to the other chamber. The budget and tax bills get an extra week in recognition of their complexity.
What this approaching deadline means is that most of the record number of bills introduced this year will not see the light of day; including at least eight that I am a lead sponsor on. Four are energy bills, one is judicial, two involve government operations, and one is about tax incentives. But they aren’t entirely dead in that they could still show up as amendments to other bills or be taken up next year.
Some big bills, like the Act 250 overhaul, have proven to be just too big a lift for the first few months of the session. Remember we have 40 new House members, and a lot of changes in in committee assignments, so people need to get up to speed. On my committee six out of nine members are new to the committee, though several bring extensive prior knowledge in certain areas.
Bills that I expect we will see in some form this spring are minimum wage, paid family leave, broadband expansion (which I see primarily as economic development), and regulated cannabis sales. The legislature is also continuing to push forward on mental health treatment, addiction treatment and the many, many impacts on family, work, schools, communities: and trying to match workers to the 10,000 job vacancies in Vermont that exist right now. Simple solutions are complicated by low wages, difficult access to child care, and unaffordable housing.
As always please write or call with questions or comments. 282-5535