Vermont Legislature

Vt. Bills Target Distracted Driving

Apr 2, 2013
AP/Toby Talbot / A driver talks on the phone on Tuesday in Montpelier.

Vermont lawmakers are continuing their efforts to crack down on distracted driving, with bills that would boost the penalties for texting while driving and ban all hand-held electronic devices when driving through road construction zones.

Two House committees are studying those measures, while prospects for a proposed outright ban on using portable electronic devices while driving appear slim.

Vermonters already are banned from texting while driving and drivers under 18 are barred from using any portable electronic device.

Key members of the House are skeptical of a Senate bill that calls for a statewide study of the impact of renewable projects on Vermont’s environment.

Last week, after hours of often heated debate, the Senate passed a stripped-down measure of a bill that originally would have given towns more control in the state review of energy projects that are proposed for their communities.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

House

Scheduled to go into session at 10 a.m.

Favorable with Amendment H. 169 Relieving employers' experience-rating records

Favorable H. 474 Amending the membership and charge of the Government Accountability Committee

Senate

Scheduled to go into session at 9:30 a.m.

Third Reading S. 129 Workers' compensation liens

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

This year Senator Bill Doyle tabulated almost 14,000 surveys from all parts of the state, and by a margin of 56 to 33 percent, those responding to the Survey said they didn't want to increase the gas tax to pay for road and bridge repairs.

Doyle says he was surprised by these results.

"I will say that I knew it would go down but I didn't think it would go down 2 to 1, said Doyle. Most of us drive to work and when you drive to work you're using a lot of gasoline."

Senate To Consider Driver's Licenses For Migrant Workers

Apr 2, 2013

The Vermont Senate will soon consider allowing immigrant farm workers to get state driver's licenses.

The Senate Transportation Committee last week moved out a bill that would do just that by a vote of 4-to-1.

Vermont dairy farms employ an estimated 1,500 Mexican farm workers, many of whom are here illegally.

They say without drivers licenses, they are often isolated in rural areas.

The bill would allow them to get driver's licenses if they have proper documentation.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

Vermont became the first state on Monday to publish the rates it would charge people who don't currently have health insurance to get coverage - a key step toward establishing the health exchanges that are central to the federal health care law known as Obamacare.

Under the proposed rates, the amount that individuals would pay every month would vary from $360 for the most basic package to more than $600 for the most comprehensive.

After a long week debating budgets, taxes and renewable energy siting policies, Senate and House lawmakers can take a breath as they return to their committees this week to discuss a wide range of topics.The House Judiciary Committee will continue to take testimony on a measure that would decriminalize the poss

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