Death With Dignity

The Senate passed over more controversial items on its agenda Wednesday morning, including a bill that would allow child care workers to unionize and the end-of-life bill that has resulted in several stalemates. Those bills were likely to be taken up later in the afternoon.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

After a lengthy debate that got personal at times, the Vermont Senate on Tuesday postponed final action on a bill that allows terminally ill patients to get a doctor’s prescription to end their lives.

The bill has divided the Senate evenly for months. And Tuesday night, the deep divisions continued. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, an opponent of the legislation, cast the deciding vote to defeat an amendment that supporters said was needed to restore some protections in the bill.

As members of the Senate Health Care Committee struggled to find a political path forward to salvage an end-of-life bill, they ejected reporters and lobbyists from the room.

The unusual move to meet behind closed doors came as Committee Chairwoman Claire Ayre, D-Addison, sought advice on how to proceed when the bill hits the floor in a deeply divided Senate.

“What’s the best strategy to have a death with dignity bill in this state?” she asked. “Are we all in agreement on that?”

A key panel is sending to the House floor legislation that would require labels on genetically modified food sold in Vermont.

The House Judiciary Committee voted, 7-4, on Tuesday to advance a bill that would prohibit the use of the term “natural” on the labels of foods, while exempting meat and dairy that has been fed genetically engineered grains.

AP/Toby Talbot

The Vermont House is expected to give final approval to a bill that would allow Vermont doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it.

The likely final passage of the bill sets up a clash with the state Senate, which passed a different proposal.

Rep. Sandy Haas, P-Rochester, the lead sponsor of the bill, said the bill, which is modeled after a law in Oregon, gives patients a choice to end their pain and suffering.

AP/Toby Talbot

At the Statehouse today, lawmakers are spending much of their time on the House and Senate floor debating a slew of bills. The only thing that’s certain, though, is death and taxes.

AP/Toby Talbot

It promises to be another busy week at the Statehouse. As the House and Senate burn down the clock on the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers will spend a lot of time on the floor debating spending and policy priorities.

The end-of-life choices bill is back on the calendar this week as the House Judiciary Committee considers a number of amendments.

House committees are rewriting a bill about end-of-life care that the Senate previously scaled back.

The House Human Services Committee voted seven-to-four in favor of the bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with a prescription medication.

Rochester Representative Sandy Haas says the committee put in safeguards that members of the Senate say are necessary.

Vermont Statehouse dome on a cloudy day.
Kirk Carapezza / VPR/file

Here’s a brief look ahead to the week at the Legislature:

A bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is set for final approval in the House on Tuesday.

Last week, the House voted 98-to-44 for a bill that would decriminalize –make it a civil offense rather than a crime – to possess a limited amount of marijuana.