Legislative Update – March 30, 2017

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Mar 30, 2017 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

This last week, the House passed important bills that support and protect Vermonters. Many of them were from my committee. We passed a bail reform bill that will bend the curve on detaining Vermonters simply because they cannot afford to pay bail. This in turn will free up prison space and save the state much needed money. We helped working pregnant women by passing a bill that requires employers to make accommodations for pregnant workers, unless such accommodations caused undue hardship.  Testimony of such requested accommodations included additional bathroom and snack breaks and other forms of self-care. Rep. George Till, an OB/GYN and lead sponsor of the bill, stated during debate that he has written doctor’s orders for many pregnant women who were not able to get their employers to accommodate them. He spoke about a cashier whose boss refused to provide her a stool and a nurse who was fired when she told her employer she couldn’t lift more than 50 pounds without help.

The House also gave families and police another tool to help prevent domestic violence situations from escalating with a cooling off period and helped families on Reach Up by easing the benefit cliff issues.

I was glad to support a bill that gives LGBTQ minors a safe path to seek mental health counseling. H.230 will make it easier for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning kids to get counseling if they choose to. It allows minors, not parents, to consent to counseling to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity. Removing the requirement of parental consent is key: we know that LGBTQ kids are more likely than other kids to suffer from symptoms of depression and more likely to take their own lives. They are less likely to seek mental health help if they need their parents’ permission.

Additionally, the House codified federal renewable energy standards for appliances.

The House unanimously passed important legislation designed to provide social media privacy protection measures for Vermont workers.

The bill, H.462, prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that an employee or job applicant share their social media account information. This stipulation applies to the employees’ personal accounts, not accounts that are provided by or used for an employer.

“This is an important protection for Vermont workers in an increasingly digital age. Personal social media accounts help to link communities and people but there are also privacy rights for employees in the information that they chose to share” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson. “This bill shows the state’s commitment to ensuring the privacy of Vermont workers as we enter an increasingly digital age with new challenges and protections.”

My Committee Work: House Judiciary

H.167: This bill recognizes that Vermont must develop alternative approaches to the traditional criminal justice model for addressing low-level illicit drug use if it is going to reduce the effects of addiction and addiction-related crime in this State.

Racial Justice Oversight: H.492, a racial justice reform bill makes needed changes to our fair and impartial police laws and addresses through an oversight board, implicit bias in the entire juvenile and justice system, not just policing.  The response to that bill was so overwhelming that people who wanted to witness the testimony couldn’t fit in the committee room.

H.422 Removal of Firearms at a Domestic Violence Scene: The following is my vote explanation:

“Madam Speaker: I vote yes on H.422. This bill is the most effective way to address the problem of domestic violence related homicides in Vermont.

While there are many ways to address domestic violence in our state, law enforcement lacks the effective tool that this bill provides to address domestic violence related homicides.

Data show that there is a strong connection between domestic violence homicides and the presence of firearms. This bill is an effective way to prevent those deaths.”

 

Please stay in touch. 828-2228, mgrad@leg.state.vt.us.