Closing out Week 17 of the 2023
Legislative Session

All eyes are on the calendar as adjournment looms. The hopeful have pegged the date at May 12, though with large disparities in the budget between the Senate and House, and then with the Governor, an exit date of May 18 is looking more and more possible. With vetoes sure to come from the Governor, the House has scheduled an override session for June 20-21.

The Senate passed an $8.5 billion budget last week, working to close the gap to within $24 million of the House passed version. But the chambers remain at odds over how to pay for the new sweeping childcare legislation with the Senate preferring a payroll tax and the House a mix of increases in corporate taxes and income taxes.

Then, there is the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill passed by the House but has since stalled in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs with no indication that it will move. Will the House hold the adjournment process hostage in a last ditch attempt to pass its priority legislation? Or will the Senate prevail while perhaps agreeing to some sort of family leave provision in the childcare bill?

Once the Senate and House settle their differences, they must turn their attention to the Governor’s budget version which sits at about $140 million less. The governor is exasperated that the legislature has not reserved funds for required matches to federal funds, not to mention a 13% increase in the general fund in the budget.

Indicating a sea change in the movement of legislation regarding firearms reform, the Senate gave preliminary approval by a 21-9 vote to H.230, an act relating to implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide. The bill proposes a 72-hour waiting period to purchase a firearm, a requirement for safe storage, also known as child access prevention, and expands the list to family and household members to those who can seek an extreme risk protection order (ERPO). These are all measures designed to reduce access to lethal means for those who are a risk to themselves or others. Waiting periods provide for a pause – space to cool down – before buying a gun.

What to expect in Week 18
May 1–May 5, 2023

Note: The Legislative Committee Agendas are updated frequently throughout each day. The latest committee schedule can be found on this link. A list of weekly hearings for all committees can be found here.

House Committee Work

Agriculture, Food Resiliency, & Forestry – will possibly vote out of committee S.115, an act relating to miscellaneous agricultural subjects. They will receive background information from the Cannabis Control Board, discuss a pilot program for virtual fencing and hear about challenges experienced by maple sugar producers.

Appropriations – TBA

Commerce and Economic Development – will continue work on the latest draft of H.81, an act relating to fair repair of agricultural equipment, with a possible vote out of committee on Tuesday. They will consider the Senate changes to H.484, the workforce and economic development bill.

Corrections and Institution – TBA

Education – will consider S.138, an act relating to school safety and S.103, an act relating to amending the prohibitions against discrimination.  

Environment and Energy – TBA

General and Housing – will take time for H.132, an act relating to establishing a homeless bill of rights and continue consideration of H.21, an act relating to landlord notice of utility disconnections, H.432, an act relating to establishing the task force to study and develop reparation proposals for the institution of chattel slavery and S.102, an act relating to expanding employment protections and collective bargaining rights.

Government Operations and Military Affairs – will vote onS.135, a bill that would establish VT Saves, a program that provides access to retirement savings for Vermont employees of companies that do not currently offer access to such a program. They will also vote on S.32, the ranked-choice voting bill. Of note, S.9 relating to the Auditor’s powers to directly audit entities that contract with the state, is not yet on the agenda for consideration this week.

Health Care – will possibly vote out of committee S.47, an act relating to the transport of individuals requiring psychiatric care. They will take testimony on H.369, an act relating to health insurance and Medicaid coverage for fertility-related services.  They will also review bills moving between the House and the Senate.

Human Services – will possibly vote out of committee H.72, an act relating to a harm-reduction criminal justice response to drug use. They will briefly take up S.18, an act relating to banning flavored tobacco products and e-liquids and receive a report from the Senate on S.25, an act relating to regulating cosmetic and menstrual products containing certain chemicals and chemical classes and textiles and athletic-turf fields containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Judiciary – will discuss and possibly vote out of committee S.4, an act relating to reducing crimes of violence associated with juveniles and dangerous weapons. They will vote out of committee S.33, an act relating to miscellaneous judiciary procedures and S.89, an act relating to establishing a forensic facility. On Thursday they will take testimony on H.371, an act relating to removal of criminal penalties for possessing, dispensing, or selling psilocybin and establishment of the Psychedelic Therapy Advisory Working Group.

Transportation – will discuss the Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportation.

Ways & Means – TBA

Senate Committee Work

Agriculture – will hear about the Land Access and Opportunity Board.

Appropriations – TBA

Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs – will take testimony on H.217, an act relating to workers’ compensation amendments and receive a walk-through of H.66, the paid family leave bill.

Education – will consider side-by-side decision points regarding H.483, an act relating to the accountability and oversight of approved independent schools that are eligible to receive public tuition. The rest of the week is TBA.

Finance – will receive a walk-through of H.270, an act relating to the miscellaneous amendments to the adult-use and medical cannabis programs, H.472, an act relating to the miscellaneous agricultural subjects, H.305, an act relating to professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation, H.158, an act relating to the beverage container redemption system, and H.470, an act relating to the miscellaneous amendments to alcoholic beverage laws.

Government Operations – TBA

Health and Welfare – TBA

Institutions – TBA

Judiciary – will receive testimony on H.40, an act relating to the nonconsensual removal of or tampering with a condom. The committee will review House changes to S.4, an act relating to reducing crimes of violence associated with juveniles and dangerous weapons, S.91 an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense, S.6, an act relating to law enforcement interrogations policies, and S.33, an act relating to miscellaneous judiciary procedures.

Natural Resources and Energy – TBA

Transportation – will review House changes to S.48, an act relating to regulating the sale of catalytic converters and S.99, an act relating to the miscellaneous changes to laws related to vehicles.

Related Practice Areas

Government Affairs