Last week we shifted from committee work to a busy week on the House floor as we moved passed crossover. All of our Healthcare committee bills were passed including H230 which gives LGBTQ children a safe path to seek mental health counseling, H507 which requires specific reporting of the one year Next Generation Medicaid Pilot to ensure the legislature is kept apprised of the progress and success, and H145 which creates a Mental Health Crisis Response Commission responsible for analyzing situations that resulted in serious bodily injury or fatality between a person’s demonstrating symptoms of mental illness and law enforcement. The goal of H145 is to recommend policies, practices, and services that will encourage collaboration and increase successful interventions between law enforcement and persons acting in a manner that created reason to believe a mental health crisis was occurring.
Other bills passed include H422 that allows for removal of firearms from a person cited or arrested for domestic assault. H422 gives families and police another tool to help prevent domestic violence situations from escalating with a 5 day cooling off period. Another important bill H326 helps families on Reach up by easing the benefit cliff issues. We will continue to spend more time on the House floor as we also begin hearing testimony on Senate bills that passed over to the House.
I will admit to a big sigh of relief when the AHCA did not make it to a vote in Congress last week. The effects would have been devastating for many Vermonters. I hope now Congress will prevail with thoughtful changes to the Affordable Care Act that ensure affordability and quality for all.
The next community conversation with myself and Representative Giambatista will be Monday April 17th at 6:30pm at the Essex Senior Center located at 2 Lincoln St adjacent to the village offices. Hope to see you there or in the community soon!
Please reach out with questions or comments!
On Friday March 17th an act relating to paid family leave was voted out of the House committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs. In a nutshell, the bill will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to take care of a serious illness for themselves or a family member, the employee's pregnancy or birth of a child, and placement of a child under 16 into foster care. The funding will come from a 0.93% payroll tax on employees. For instance, if one makes $50,000 a 0.93% payroll tax will be $465.
This link takes you to the last draft of bill H196 and this link takes you to a study by the Vermont Commission on Women's feasibility study.
Many believe this benefit will help attract younger workers to Vermont and also provide a needed benefit to our aging workforce.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Please provide comments here or feel free to email me at email@example.com
It was a busy week as we all worked towards crossover on March 17th. Crossover is the day bills in both bodies must be voted out of their committee in order to be voted on the floor and passed to the other chamber. The budget bills are due March 24th.
House Healthcare heard testimony on those bills we deemed most important to vote on this year; while realizing there are other important bills we will continue discussing. One notable bill, H.145, creates a Mental Health Response Commission housed in the Office of the Attorney General. This bill grew out of the work of the Grenon group after Phil Grenon was killed in his home in Burlington. The commission will conduct reviews of law enforcement interactions with persons acting in a manner that created reason to believe a mental health crisis was occurring and resulted in a fatality or serious bodily injury. The commission will recommend policies, practices, services and training that will lead to successful interventions in the future.
H.230 allows a minor to give consent to receive outpatient treatment related to sexual orientation or gender identity from a mental health professional. We heard testimony from some very brave youth during LGBQT day at the statehouse.
Another important bill is H.184 which passed in the full House March 17th. Suicides in Vermont account for more deaths annually than those of motor vehicle accidents, homicide and drownings combined. This law directs the Agency of Human Services to identify and collect all information related to each death by suicide to help inform suicide prevention activities.
On another note, the full House voted 110-24 on S.79 which protects Vermonters from collection of or dissemination of personally identifiable information for purposes of establishing a federal registry or database.
There were many important bills voted out of House committees during crossover week that are being discussed and voted on this week. Many more than space available here. Issues addressed include enhancements to existing Parental & Family Leave Act (PFLA), a CTE grant pilot program, transparency with the Next Generation Medicaid Pilot, access to treatment courts, and reforms to Vermont’s bail and probation laws. If there are questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My contact is firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-373-0599 or leave a comment below.
I am honored to serve our community and look forward to hearing from you.
Week 9 of the session was active both on and off the floor as committees worked towards “crossover” on March 17th. This is when all bills we want to pass to the other chamber must be voted out of committee and put on the calendar for vote. This week 4 bills were introduced and 11 passed. H. 171 received the most attention on the floor as we debated shortening the length of time a person convicted of a nonviolent crime can seek expungement as well as adding two crimes to the list. After two amendments failed we passed the bill 88 to 51. I voted yes for the final bill. All bill information for both the House and Senate can be found at www.legislature.vermont.gov under bills and resolutions.
In the House Health Care committee we continue to focus on mental health issues and passed out unanimously H.197 an act relating to mental health parity for workers’ compensation. We agreed that mental health conditions incurred during service should be treated equally to physical injury in the workplace. The bill also states that post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed in police, rescue/ ambulance workers or firefighters by a mental health professional is presumed to have incurred in the line of service and shall be compensable. With this bill our job was to determine if the mental and physical should be treated equally. This bill will now move to the commerce department and be considered within workers compensation guidelines.
Secretary Al Gobeille also briefed us on a public/private committee created to analyze the mental health care situation in Vermont. They are specifically looking at flow and funding with an eye towards a short term plan to start rectifying our issues in the near term. We will continue to be briefed on their findings and action plan.
The next community conversation with myself and Representative Giambatista will be Monday March 20th at 6:30pm at the Essex Senior Center located at 2 Lincoln St adjacent to the village offices. Hope to see you there or in the community soon!