Week 6 of the session was active with 44 bill introductions while 2 bills passed the house. Those two bills were H.143 an act relating to automobile insurance requirements and transportation network companies and H.14 an act relating to automated external defibrillators. Many resolutions were introduced and passed including H.C.R 36 congratulating the 2016 Eagle class of Green Mountain Council Boy Scouts of which the Essex community had several young man reaching this lofty status. Congratulations to all! All bill information for both the House and Senate can be found at www.legislature.vermont.gov under bills and resolutions.
Quite a number of notable items occurred during week 6 including Governor Scott’s press conference on immigration, the agreement with One Care to test the all payer model and two public hearings regarding mental health and minimum wage.
Governor Scott had tri-partisan support during his press conference announcing legislation that would require the governor’s approval prior to state or local police conducting federal immigration enforcement work as well as prohibiting the collection of personal information for purposes of establishing a mandatory federal registry or database. Bills H228 and S79 have been introduced to address the latter. I will keep you posted on the status on all.
Later in the week Governor Scott announced a one year agreement with OneCare that will pilot the all-payer system. This pilot will pay a network of healthcare provides a lump sum to care for approximately 30,000 patients within 4 geographic areas. The goal is to pay providers based on quality of care rather than quantity of services. The house healthcare committee will begin taking testimony on this pilot during week 7.
On Tuesday, the house healthcare committee held a joint hearing with the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and heard testimony from frontline workers within Vermont’s public health system. Serious concerns were expressed about unreasonable waiting times in hospital emergency departments for patients in mental health crisis, high turnover in staff, stressful workload, and insufficient funding for salaries. Our two committees will continue hearing testimony and working on these issues throughout the biennium.
The House General, Housing & Military Affairs committee is currently hearing testimony on two minimum wage bills. Both increase minimum wage to $15, one by 2020 and the other by 2022. While I’ve been following the testimony I’m still undecided on this issue and am awaiting the fiscal report. As always, if you have comments, thoughts or concerns, I would like to hear them.