This past week I heard some variation of the following sentiment - Perfection, No. Progress, Yes. Although in most instances the conversation was concerning pending legislation, we could also have been discussing updating my website! I realize I haven't been perfect, but considering this is my first time with a website I think I'm making progress. Please know that I can always be reached by email and phone if you aren't finding what you need here or have other questions.
Much has happened over the past few weeks. The House has passed comprehensive criminal and racial justice reforms making Vermont safer and addressing implicit bias in all aspects of society. We passed legislation giving emergency responders access to worker's compensation benefits for mental health injuries further reducing the disparity in treatment of physical and mental health. We voted unanimously to allow Executive Order 06-17 to go into effect which will unify the state's information technology operations and forms the Agency of Digital Services, transferring most IT positions to the new agency. Unfortunately we did not give approval to the executive order to merge the Liquor and Lottery agencies. I voted no on the executive order as I didn't believe the administration had a well thought out change management plan, but would have voted yes on the proposed legislation to form a work study group to achieve the merger. For me this was really a question of policy vs oversight vs implementation and what role does each stakeholder play; especially when revenues from the lottery agency feeds the education fund. Overall I do think this was a missed opportunity and hope this legislation is revived next year.
This pass week we gave preliminary approval to H333 requiring that all single-user bathrooms in public buildings be labeled as gender-free ensuring that fundamental equalities are preserved.
We also gave preliminary approval to S127 a transportation bill related to vehicles and vessels. This bill covers everything from license plates, workforce infractions, temporary registrations to much more. A few notable pieces of the legislation include distracted driving and inspection rules. Distracted driving will have higher point penalties depending on the location of the distraction. For instance, points go from 2 to 4 when ticketed for distracted driving in a work or school zone. As many Vermonters know our vehicle inspection process has been computerized. While the rules haven’t changed many previously unequally enforced rules, such as the check engine light, are now equally enforced. The check engine light rules states a car cannot receive an inspection sticker if the light is illuminated. The amendment offered on S127 would extend the time a conditional inspection sticker can be given with the check engine light infraction. This additional time will allow the legislature to potentially review the rules.
I look forward to passage of both these bills.
On Friday the healthcare committee voted 11-0 on S.133 an act relating to examining mental health care and care coordination. Our committee worked closely with the Department of Mental Health, Agency of Human Services and many other stakeholders to ensure the work we are generating with this bill will provide the data needed to not only strengthen our mental health care and coordination but to further ensure mental health and physical health are one system. We will be presenting our amendments to the full House this week and with passage the bill will return to the Senate for final vote. I look forward to continuing our focus on mental and physical health care in next year’s session.
We are nearing the end of the session. I promise to be more timely in updates! Don't hesitate to reach out. Thank you for the privilege to serve Essex Junction.