With End Of Session In Sight, Legislature Considers GMOs, Education

May 9, 2013

Negotiators from the House and Senate try to strike deal on the state budget.
Credit VPR/John Dillon

With the end of the legislative session looming, lawmakers are considering a number of bills ranging from food labeling to child care.

The Senate took up an omnibus education bill on Thursday that includes legislation that would extend the right to organize a union to child care workers. An earlier version of the bill died in committee, when one of its sponsors, Sen. Bill Doyle, R-Washington, voted against it.

UPDATE 10:27 a.m.: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott ruled the child care union issue not related closely enough to the underlying education bill.

The House considers a bill Thursday afternoon to require labeling of food sold in Vermont containing genetically modifies organisms, or GMOs. Critics are warning that if the Legislature adopts such a law the state could attract a lawsuit from the biotech and dairy industries. Supporters, though, are hoping to expose a gap between the industry’s support of GMO labeling in countries where it’s already required, and its opposition to the practice in America, where it’s not.

The House Judiciary Committee has done its due diligence on reviewing the legal arguments supporting the bill, says Chairman Bill Lippert.

Tomorrow the House is expected to take up a Senate bill that would legalize hemp in Vermont, despite a federal ban.

Meanwhile, budget conference committees continue to negotiate the details of the 2014 revenue and budget package. On Tuesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders announced a broad agreement on a plan to balance next year’s budget without raising new taxes but some changes to the income tax could still be in store.

Any action on the House and Senate floor you can listen to on VPR’s legislative streams.

Follow our Vermont Legislature reporting team of Bob Kinzel, John Dillon, and Kirk Carapezza on Twitter and here at VPR.net.