Legislative Update

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Jan 29, 2015 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Vermont State HouseState House Congratulations to:

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Hewitt and her parents Mary Gow and Steve Hewitt of Warren. Lizzy has joined VTDigger! VTDigger is a great resource to help us stay informed. Look for Elizabeth’s news stories.

Kevin and David and Warren Babic, who attended the reading of a resolution honoring Rico Babic’s 100th birthday! It was an honor to welcome them.

House Floor Action

Thursday the House passed a resolution honoring the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I strongly support a woman’s right to privacy and choice regarding her reproductive health. This choice is critical to her economic security. As the United States Supreme Court has said, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

House Committee Work:

House Judiciary: I chair this committee.

H.16 Requiring a Sex Offender to Register Prior to being Released from Prison. I sponsored this bill. Rep. Greshin joined as a co-sponsor. I am happy to have it be the first bill to pass my committee. It passed on a vote of 11-0. It is up for House floor action Wednesday and Thursday.

H.16 requires inmates to report to the Sex Offender Registry prior to their release from a correctional facility. Testimony received from the Vermont Criminal Information Center of the Department of Public Safety, the Vermont Network against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Department of Corrections, State’s Attorney’s and Sheriffs, and the Defender General unanimously favored the bill. This is a technical correction bill to codify practice and address a small number of offenders who are “maxing out”–leaving a corrections facility without any further supervision or contact with DOC. While this is current practice, DOC and others testified it is best to have it clear in the law and not all inmates will cooperate with DOC. Also, with the passage of this bill, failure to provide notification is a crime and can result in the offender being returned to prison. Legislative Counsel has prepared a summary that is available on our committee website.

My committee took testimony on the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (H.23). Vermont and North Carolina are the only two states that have not updated their laws. We will start consideration of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act next week and other bills pertaining to child support.

Budget Adjustment (BAA) – Judiciary Branch:

The Governor recommended a cut of $224,000 plus asked the Judiciary to agree in the BAA to a savings of $500,000 in the 2016 budget. I took testimony from the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court regarding these cuts. He stated that these cuts would impair the court’s ability to meet its constitutional obligation to adjudicate cases in a timely manner.

In a letter to me and other committee chairs, Justice Reiber says that savings from a delay in filling the three judicial vacancies are impairing the court’s ability “to adjudicate cases in a timely manner, especially in light of the increase in juvenile child protection filings.”

These cuts are of grave concern to my committee. House Judiciary feels strongly that as part of the budget process, we must advocate for the Judiciary’s ability to deliver on its constitutional duty to provide Vermonters with access to justice.

From the Education Committee:

Longitudinal Data Reporting System: In 2012, the Vermont Agency of Education (Agency) was awarded a $5 million Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant from the Feds. Though off to a delayed start, the grant will be used to fund the Vermont Automated Data Reporting (VADR) project which will assist all schools in participating in an automated vertical data collection process, develop a state-level operational data store, develop growth model reporting tools, automate some of our analysis functions, and generate automated “EdFacts” files. The VADR project will establish a data system that will serve as the foundation for future expansion to a comprehensive Pre-K-16 data collection and reporting system. This is long overdue!

Vermont Association for School Business Officials (VASBO): The committee took testimony from a handful of business managers who provided compelling evidence of inefficiencies, redundancies, and opportunities for cost savings within our current system. They outlined various governance pitfalls and solutions, changes to health care insurance administration, and alterations to state policies that impact per pupil spending and the evidence-based decisions that reduce cost and promote quality.

Property Tax Reform:

I have introduced two bills to address education financing, property taxes and educational quality. One encompasses Heidi Spear’s and her group’s proposal, the other Rob Rosen’s.

Events:

Come Dance and Support the Moretown Fire Department! This Friday, January 30th at Moretown Town Hall. Dinner at 5, dancing at 7 with music by Scared By Dolls and a guest appearance by Bruce Sklar.

 

Please stay in touch: 496-7667 or mgrad@leg.state.vt.us.

If you haven’t already, please “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter. I will be posting updates as often as possible to keep you informed about what is happening in the Vermont Statehouse. You can also look for my updates on Front Porch Forum and in the Valley Reporter and Waterbury Record.