Legislative Update – January 11, 2018

Home  »  Front Slider  »  Legislative Update – January 11, 2018
Jan 11, 2018 No Comments ›› maxinegrad
Vermont State House Montpelier VT

By John Phelan – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Happy New Year! I am excited to be back at the State House as your representative and to continue to chair the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.

Congratulations and welcome to Rep. Ed Read. I look forward to working with Ed on issues impacting our district. Also, kudos to Eloise Harris of Moretown who is serving as a Legislative Page. I am excited to serve with Eloise as she helps the democratic process work for Vermonters.

Over the summer and fall I was busy with committees I serve on as House Judiciary Chair. These include Judicial Nominating, Justice Oversight (corrections and juvenile issues) and the Marijuana Advisory Commission.

House Judiciary Committee Work

We started the session by reviewing H.511, marijuana bill. This bill was on the House notice calendar and up for action our second day back. This was because the House was unable to address it during the veto session, due to a failure to get a rules suspension. H.511 is the Senate’s response to the Governor’s veto of the original marijuana bill. I worked with the Governor’s office and Senate over the summer on the sections that were added to the vetoed bill to respond to the Governor’s concerns. This bill is an important criminal justice milestone. It removes the collateral consequences of a criminal record for adults who responsibly use of small amounts of marijuana, while simultaneously preventing youth access and enhancing highway safety. H.511 promotes the much-needed community policing by beginning to address current racial disparities in drug enforcement and incarceration, and building much needed trust between law enforcement and our communities. The bill now moves to the Senate and then the Governor.

We will start work on rewriting the laws on parentage in recognition of the changing nature of families. Our parentage law has not kept pace with the many ways Vermonters become parents, including via assisted reproduction, surrogacy, and “psychological” or “de facto” parenting. The Vermont Supreme Court has grappled with this issue and has reached out to my committee to address it. This will be exciting and interesting work. Last term the Legislature created a study committee to provide recommendations to achieve this goal. We will hear from the committee this week.

As chair, some of my committee priorities are continuing to find ways to enhance workforce development through effective justice reform. I will be working with the Senate and the Attorney General on bail reform. I will also continue our work on protecting crime victims and promoting public and highway safety. I am glad that the chair of the House Transportation Committee will address primary seatbelt law. I have been the leader of a bill making seatbelt use primary enforcement for many years. While it passed the House twice, it was met with opposition in the Senate and by 3 different governors. I am glad there is interest and support now.

Veterans and Service Members

In addition to my committee work, I will be working with the administration on bills to improve the lives of veterans, service members and their families. I will keep you posted as this unfolds.


I have been working with the Department of Defense and State of Vermont on TBI and Medicaid waivers for active duty service members and dependents. I am glad to report that the Department of Disabilities, Aging, & Independent Living Traumatic Brain Injury Provider/Procedures Manual has been updated with language that meets the desired outcome of the Office of the Secretary of Defense on the matter of Medicaid waivers.

Other priorities (not an exclusive list)

Mental health and opiate treatment, revising the education funding formula (property tax relief), supporting our schools, addressing climate change and clean water. All of these will promote a strong economy and safe communities.

Upcoming Public Hearings

The Treasurer’s Office will be holding two public meetings to solicit input from employers and employees regarding implementation of the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan. The meetings will take place on the following dates:

  • January 22, 2018, 2pm, Room 11 at the State House in Montpelier, VT.
  • January 29, 2018, 1pm, Franklin Conference Center at the Howe Center in Rutland, VT.

Please RSVP to [email protected].  To learn more about the Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan you can visit greenmountainsecure.vermont.gov.


Please stay in touch: [email protected] or 496-7667 and 828-2228.