Editorial, Legislative Report

The Session Begins

by Rep. Avram Patt, Lamoille-Washington District, Morristown, Elmore, Woodbury, Worcester and northern Stowe

WOODBURY – The 2024 session of the Legislature began on July 3. It being the second half of a two-year biennium session, we will be dealing with a lot of new issues and bills, but we will also be dealing with bills introduced in 2023 that did not see action, or which did see action but did not reach final passage. Two significant bills were voted on by the House in the first two weeks.

H.158 relating to the beverage container redemption system (known as “the bottle bill”) passed both the House and Senate last year but was vetoed by Governor Scott. In the first week of the session, the House voted to override the veto by a large margin, and the Senate will now be considering whether or not to also vote to override. The bill would expand the types of beverage containers covered by the redemption system.

The House also approved a bill that allows safe injection sites to operate in the state. Such sites do not provide people with addictive drugs. Safe injection sites are spaces where individuals can use drugs under medical supervision and where overdose reducing medication is available. The overwhelming majority of overdose deaths happen when users are alone, and such sites not only prevent such deaths, but are an environment where the user is able to access help to get treatment and hopefully overcome their addiction. The Senate will now take up the bill.

Although I am not on the committees dealing directly with these matters, I will be paying close attention to bills proposals around spending and revenue dealing with affordable housing and homelessness, and with education property taxes. I have heard from a number of constituents on both these subjects. Schools and municipal governments are expiring significant cost increases and financial pressures, but we need to do what we can to limit the effect on property taxes. In the long run, I believe we need to move away from our over-dependence on property taxes for education.

In the Environment and Energy Committee. Our committee will be dealing with a number of bills dealing with both environmental and energy issues, as well as some dealing with information services. We spent two afternoons in joint hearings with the House Transportation Committee getting extensive reports on efforts to build resiliency in our environment to the growing effects of climate change, including flooding and high wins. We also heard reports and testimony about the results of a summer study committee which considered    changes to Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard for electric utilities, that would accelerate the increase in renewable resources, as well as encouraging development of local sources.

Contact: [email protected] or leave a message at the Sergeant at Arms office, (802)-828-2228.

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