Legislative Update – March 22, 2018

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Mar 22, 2018 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Vermont State House in SpringThe Beer and Wine Franchise Bill

H.710 passed the House on a vote of 124-11. The Vermont craft industry is a vital part of our district’s economy. The bill is needed because current law gives a special advantage to the distributors at the expense of small brewers. This bill will ensure free and fair competition in the craft beer market. The bill is a win for Vermont’s small businesses. The Vermont craft beer industry boosts the agriculture sector, attracts tourists from around the world and provides significant employment opportunities to Vermonters. Supporting these businesses is key to ensuring Vermont retains a competitive tourism industry and remains attractive to entrepreneurs, workers, and families.

Comprehensive Workforce Development Bill

H.919 Workforce development is a critical issue to our communities. I am pleased to report that the bill received unanimous support in House. This 29-page bill draws on the work of the summer S.135 Working Group and proposes to do the following:

  1. Formalize the collaboration of the State Workforce Development Board with various state agencies to meet Vermont’s 21st Century workforce needs, charging the stakeholders to collaborate on the creation of a dynamic workforce development system by 2/1/2020.
  2. Elevate the role of Career Pathways in workforce development, engaging students as early as 7th grade, shaping academic and technical skill curriculums with input from local and regional businesses and industries, make the Career Pathways Coordinator a permanent position.
  3. Establish up to 4 pilot projects in Career Technical Education (CTE) settings to model a unified funding and governance structure to streamline and improve delivery of services.
  4. Strengthen apprenticeship programs in the state, including the establishment of “returnships” to reengage workers who are currently not in the workforce.
  5. Establish a system that reviews and elevates the rigor of industry recognized credentials and certificates to create better value and relevance of them to both the recipient and employees.
  6. Expand the role of the Department of Labor and the Commissioner to recruit workers, including from in-state post-secondary institutions, as well as train workers.
  7. Recognize the importance of the Vermont Talent Pipeline Management project and encourage the involvement of various state agencies to ensure the skills developed match the skills needed.
  8. Authorize the use of Workforce Education Training (WET) Funds to assist small businesses recruit, relocate and retain workers.
  9. Leverage programs developed at CTEs to other CTEs and coordinate with regional post-secondary schools.
  10. Develop metrics to measure the relative success of these different efforts to guide decision making in the future.

My Committee Work

House Judiciary: Gun Safety

We took up S.55, which includes a provision related to the disposition of firearms that have been seized by law enforcement, an expanded background check requirement that reaches unlicensed (or private) firearm sales, and a 21-year old age requirement for purchase of long guns (the purchase of handguns to those under 21 is already barred by federal law). Starting Wednesday, the Committee also started considering amendments to the bill, including a ban on bump stocks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, a ban on assault-style firearms, safe storage (equivalent to a Child Access Prevention law), and a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm. After three days of testimony, the Committee refined the bill on Friday for further consideration this coming week. The revised strike-all amendment has dropped the ban on assault-style firearms because it became clear that defining what is an assault weapon is extremely difficult. We were unable to come up with a definition that was not both overly broad (capturing weapons that absolutely are not what one should be trying to ban) and too narrow (almost certainly, semiautomatic firearms that are highly lethal and subject to misuse would not be included in the ban). We encouraged witnesses and gun control advocates to provide a workable definition, but none was forthcoming.

In addition, the revised strike-all amendment drops the provision establishing the 10-day waiting period. The strike-all amendment also adds a provision to the background check section that provides immunity to Federal Firearm Licensees that provide background check services in unlicensed (private) sales. It also provides avenues for those between the age of 18 and 21 to purchase a long gun if they pass a hunting or firearm safety course. The ban on bump stocks and on high-capacity magazines remains. We also heard from high school students on school safety.  Eleanor Reilly, Student, Harwood Union High School, Warren, provided very compelling testimony.


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