Legislative Update: The State Budget, Teacher Health Care And Pot Legalization

May 3, 2017

Vermont lawmakers are hoping to end the legislative session by the end of this week, but there are some big issues still being debated.

Here is where a few of those issues stands as the time ticks down on the session:

Teacher health care plan

  • On April 25, Gov. Phil Scott announced a plan to create a statewide contract for teachers' health care, saying it would save $26 million that can be put to other uses.
  • On the morning of May 3, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe announced that the House and Senate reached an agreement: their compromise would preserve collective bargaining for teachers and would not implement a statewide teachers' contract, but would still achieve those $26 million in savings.
  • The governor maintains that the statewide contract is what makes those savings possible.

The state budget

Marijuana legalization

  • Late on Tuesday, May 2, the House passed H.170 which would allow for possession of 1 ounce of marijuana and the growing of two plants for personal use.
  • However, this bill does not create a tax-and-regulate model, which the Senate previously passed.
  • It remains to be seen if the House and Senate can agree on a legalization plan to send to the governor before the end of the session.
  • More from VPR's Bob Kinzel: Is A Compromise On Marijuana Legalization Brewing In Montpelier?

Anything else?

  • It's really the budget and tax bills that have to get passed before adjournment, which lawmakers hope will be Saturday, May 6.
  • Other issues that some lawmakers would like to try and finish before the end of the session include¬† an affordable housing bond and an economic development bill.
  • Unfinished work can be resumed in January 2018, in the second half of the biennium

For more legislative session coverage:

Listen to the conversation above. Broadcast on Vermont Edition on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.