Editorial, Legislative Report

Busy Considering Crossover Deadlines

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WORCESTER – The House and Senate have been busy acting on bills that must make the several different crossover deadlines for different types of bills, in order to get them to the other body. Much of the rest of the session will be spent on back and forth activity, either agreeing with the other body or working out the differences. A few bills of note were actively debated during the week of March 18 and then passed the House by wide margins.

H.706, a bill banning the use of certain dangerous pesticides, neonicotinoids (also known as “neonics”) passed after much discussion as well as information offered by the Committee on Agriculture, Food Resiliency, and Forestry. These pesticides are especially harmful to pollinators, which play a critical role in our natural environment as well as agriculture. The pesticides are used by dairy farmers on corn planted as a feed crop. However, evidence shows that they have little or no affect in managing pest insects that they are intended for, but instead cause far greater harm with respect to pollinators.

Both the House and Senate have been working on bills to address issues related to crime, theft, bail and related issues that have been a major source of concern in communities throughout the state. H.534, An Act Related to Retail Theft, passed by the House on March 14, would among other provisions, allow someone to be charged with a felony if they have committed a number of smaller thefts that would be considered misdemeanors separately. A number of other provisions addressing crime issues were also included. The Senate has been working on proposals on this subject which the House will now consider.

H. 289, which makes changes to the Renewable Energy Standard affecting our electric utilities, passed the House by a wide margin on March 21. It accelerates the timeline by which utilities’ energy sources must be 100% renewable, as well as encouraging development of in-state resources. It recognizes that Vermont’s utilities, Green Mountain Power, two co-ops, and 14 municipals, are in different stages of progress in reaching this goal, including three that are already at 100%. As someone who managed a utility for many years, I was troubled by the wildly inaccurate cost projections put out by the Department of Public Service, and then also by a much more modest cost estimate by the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office. Neither of the estimates acknowledged that there would be cost benefits to utilities and ratepayers as well, some possibly significant. Estimating long term energy costs for infrastructure or generation can be a guessing game, but to omit mention of expected cost savings, even if they can’t yet be quantified, is a significant omission.

Contact: [email protected] or leave a message at the Sergeant at Arms office, (802) 828-2228. To track any bills, agendas and written testimony for all House and Senate committees, or to view all House and Senate sessions or committee hearings either live or recorded, visit legislature.vermont.gov/

Rep. Avram Patt represents the Lamoille-Washington District, consisting of Morristown, Elmore, Woodbury, Worcester and northern Stowe.

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