Vermont Legislature

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A Vermont State Police cruiser watches for speeding drivers on I-89 in September 2015.
Steve Zind / VPR

Vermont lawmakers are taking up a new highway safety bill that could make failure to wear a seat belt a "stoppable offense," as well as introduce tougher penalties for young motorists using cell phones while driving.

The push comes after a third of victims in Vermont's fatal crashes last year weren't wearing seat belts, in what was the deadliest year on Vermont roads in four years.

Senate Transportation chairman Dick Mazza says he'll oppose a primary enforcement seat belt law this year
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

The Vermont House has given strong initial support to a highway safety bill that includes the primary enforcement of Vermont's seat belt law.

Bradford Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas speaks at the Vermont Statehouse on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

As the #MeToo movement continues to illuminate the prevalence of harassment and abuse that many women face in the workplace, a tri-partisan group of Vermont legislators is trying to make it easier for victims to report bad behavior.

The rate of incarceration in Vermont has dropped by a third over the last decade, according to a new survey by Pew Charitable Trusts. But officials with the Vermont ACLU says the state still jails far more people than it needs to.
txking / iStock

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign that will try to cut the state's halve the prison population in Vermont.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, center, flanked by Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, say they have concerns with Gov. Phil Scott's approach to the issue of cost-containment in public schools.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

With an executive branch in Republican hands, and a Legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, ideological conflict is part and parcel of state government these days. And it became clear Tuesday afternoon where that partisan divide is widest.

Secretary of Administration Susanne Young and Commissioner of Finance Adam Greshin told reporters Tuesday that the governor's fiscal year 2019 budget plan ties rate of growth in state spending to the increase in Vermonters' wages.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

In a budget proposal that one administration official describes as having “no bells … and no whistles,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott is calling for a $5.9 billion spending plan that pegs the rate of growth in the budget to the increase in Vermonters’ incomes in recent years.

Golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse on a cloudy day.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Gov. Phil Scott delivered his 2018 budget address Tuesday afternoon at the Vermont Statehouse.

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Torti, at the podium, joined environmental and municipal leaders last week to call for a per-parcel fee, on every property owner in Vermont, to fund clean water projects.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Environmental advocates aren’t the only voices pressuring Montpelier to come up with a long-term funding mechanism for water quality projects. Members of the state's business community are also joining the call.

Gov. Phil Scott says he is confident Democratic leaders will drop their plan to raise the statewide property tax rate to avoid a government shutdown on July first
Bob Kinzel / VPR

Vermont has become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana through an act of the Legislature.

Gov. Phil Scott, seen here in his Montpelier office on the one year anniversary into his two-year gubernatorial term.
Henry Epp / VPR

Gov. Phil Scott says he expects to sign the marijuana legalization bill that lawmakers sent him this week before Monday. But supporters of the legislation won’t get to celebrate at a public signing ceremony.

According to campaign finance disclosures, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has raised more than twice as much money toward his 2018 reelection bid than any of the other four candidates challenging him for the office.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

A mandatory reduction in staff at public schools across Vermont is among the list of “ideas” that Gov. Phil Scott is asking lawmakers to consider as his administration looks to stave off a projected increase in next year’s statewide property tax rate.

The Chittenden Regional Correctional facility could be closed under the plan proposed by the Scott Administration.
Courtesy, State of Vermont

Key legislative leaders say a new proposal by the Scott Administration to build a multi-purpose 925-bed prison in Franklin County is an ambitious plan that deserves a comprehensive review.

Zach Stephens / Brattleboro Reformer

Former Speaker of the House Timothy O'Connor of Brattleboro has died.

The Vermont Clean Water Act will hold more than 1,000 properties across the state to stricter stormwater standards, but environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to undermine some key provisions.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to dismantle key provisions in a 2015 law that set out rigorous new water quality standards across Vermont.

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears is looking to modify Vermont's domestic terrorism laws as a way to deal with future cases of violence
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Legislation that would have enabled safe injection sites for opioid users looked like it might be gaining momentum in Montpelier this year, but a key Senate committee is now backing away from the plan.

Sen. Debbie Ingram, at podium, was among several Vermont senators Friday to call for legislation that would ban employers from asking applicants about their salary histories.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bipartisan group of female senators has introduced legislation that they say will help close the pay gap between men and women.

Tim Fair, center, talks to a prospective customer at a cannabis industry event in the Statehouse cafeteria Tuesday. Fair, a lawyer, says the legalization bill passed by lawmakers this week sets the stage for a more robust marijuana sector in the future.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The marijuana legalization bill that Gov. Phil Scott is expected to sign in the next few days won’t create the above-board commercial market that many pot-reform advocates had been pushing for, but cannabis entrepreneurs say it’s a step in the right direction.

Marijuana plants
Yarygin / iStock

The Legislature is sending a marijuana bill (H.511) to Gov. Phil Scott for his signature, which would make Vermont the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process.

Now exactly what does the bill allow you to do?

Sara Teachout, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, told legislators this week that the state can offset the loss of $12 million in federal revenues by changing the premium structure for certain health insurance plans.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont insurance companies say they’ve found a way to offset the effects of an executive order issued last year that would otherwise cost the state $12 million annually in lost revenue.

Marijuana plants.
Labuda / iStock

The Vermont Senate has given its approval to legislation legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. On a voice vote, the Senate backed a bill Wednesday that allows individuals to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow two mature plants.

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