The Word in the House 5/13/2015 - The Home Stretch

By the time this article is published the legislature will be within a day or two of adjourning. It's a time of hurry-up and wait for some of us who are on committees that have finished as much work as they will do this session. I spent a good part of last week in the vaccine hearings. Other committees dealing with tough issues or which are finalizing work on Senate bills are still going at it. The legislature began the week a day early on Monday in an effort to finish by this Friday or Saturday.

Some of the bills which have made it through both the House and Senate with differences that could not be resolved have been assigned to conference committees. These committees consist of three members of the House and three members of the Senate who will meet to negotiate a version of the bill that all six can agree on. This compromise version will then go before both bodies for an up or down vote. No amendments will be allowed. Two bills which must be passed before adjournment, the Budget and the Revenue bills, have been assigned to conference committees that will have to work together to come up with a balanced budget.

Several important House bills will have been voted on by the Senate this week including the Water Quality bill (H.35) and the Energy RESET bill (H.40). I consider these must-pass bills because the first is necessary to begin effectively controlling the phosphorous pollution going into Lake Champlain and the second is necessary to avoid a 6% increase in electric rates that will result from policy changes by Connecticut and Massachusetts if the bill doesn't pass. I have written articles, which can be found on my website, on both of these bills.

Last week saw the passage of several bills by the House. S.44 establishes a Universal Children’s Savings Account Program in Vermont. The bill creates a special fund that would provide every Vermont child with college savings account funded with $250 at birth. VSAC will administer and manage the program, including working with private foundations, philanthropists and other donors to fund the accounts. VSAC will also work with families and children to provide financial counseling, education, and support. Children of low-income families may receive additional initial deposits if the money is available. Families will be invited to match contributions and participate in savings programs. 

Another bill, H.355, establishes a licensing requirement for professional Foresters. Some landowners have been harmed as a result of their dealings with persons claiming to be foresters. Currently, Vermont and Rhode Island are the only New England states that do not have forester licensing. By licensing the profession through the Secretary of State's office, this measure will help landowners by ensuring that foresters have a minimum level of education and qualification for practicing forestry in Vermont, will promote continuing education in the forestry field, and will provide a basic level of credibility and accountability for the profession.

Finding money unexpectedly is always a nice surprise. So, let me once again note that there are hundreds of listings for Charlotters at the State Treasurer's Unclaimed Property database which can be accessed at Check it out and see if you might be among the lucky listings. Other states have similar lists, so if you've ever lived someplace other than Vermont, you might try those places as well.

I continue to welcome your feedback on issues. I can be reached by phone (802-233-5238) or by email (