As we enter what is likely to be the last week of the session, the activity on the House and Senate chambers has picked up. Many bills passed out this week and you can find a full list HERE. I’ve summarized just a few below.
The Healthcare Committee continued their focus on prescription drug pricing by passing out S175 an act relating to the wholesale importation of prescription drugs into Vermont. The intent is to import the prescription drugs that would provide a substantial savings to Vermonters. This bill requires the Agency of Human Services to design a wholesale drug importation program that ensures the safety of our prescription drug market by continuing to follow the US FDA safety standards and the tracking and tracing of prescription drugs as laid out in federal regulation and will prohibit distribution outside Vermont. Once the agency designs the program they will submit a formal request to the Federal Health and Human Services agency for a waiver. There is a provision in federal law that allows for the issuance of this waiver, and we can’t move forward without it. The National Academy of State Health Policies, who is currently working with Utah on similar legislation, is making available the template and design process to Vermont at no cost. Congressman Welch, Senator Sanders and a representative for Senator Leahy all testified in our commitment and pledged their support for S175 and will provide their assistance at the federal level. This bill passed the House on a vote of 141-2.
The House gave preliminary approval to S260 the Clean Water Bill on a vote 94-48. S260 creates a Clean Water Fund Board to study and recommend long-term funding sources for water cleanup in our state. If a long term funding source is not found by 2020, this bill provides for two funding sources – a 0.25% increase in rooms and meals tax and moving uncollected beverage disposal deposits to the fund. As the House Speaker stated in her press release “There are currently over 350 water segments in Vermont that need water quality improvement. Our waters are a vital component of our communities, our industries and our traditions. Vermonters deserve a Vermont that works for all of us. That includes clean water, and this bill takes vital steps to ensure our lakes, rivers and streams remain healthy for future generations.”
The House also gave preliminary approval on a vote of 135-0 to S261 an act relating to mitigating trauma and toxic stress during childhood by strengthening child and family resilience. Although we don’t have a clear estimate of the monetary costs in Vermont (in 2012 a CDC study estimated the cost of child maltreatment at $128 billion), we do know that Vermont is not immune from the ravages of childhood adversity. The latest research shows 24% of our children have an adverse childhood experience (ACE) score of 2 or more, while the US national average is 22% of children. Generational poverty, addiction, homelessness and incarceration continue to plaque our children and families – and in too many cases the root cause is childhood trauma. It is the purpose of this act to ensure a consistent family support system by enhancing opportunities to build resilience among families throughout the State that are experiencing the causes or symptoms of childhood adversity. While significant efforts to provide preventative services are already under way in many parts of the state, better coordination is necessary to ensure that gaps in services are addressed and redundancies do not occur.
If you have questions on these bills or anything else, please attend our next community conversation Monday May 21st at the Essex Senior Center. Representative Giambatista and I have held these conversations throughout our two sessions and we look forward to the opportunity to talk with constituents. Can't attend but still have a question - reach out directly firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact session on my website.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Essex Junction. I look forward to being back in the community more once the session ends and hope to see you around the Village.