Week 11 : March 26th to March 29th
Time on the Floor
Some long days on the floor. Check out my time-sheet. The picture is of Representative Sam Young's shoes and socks. Reminded me of that scene from the Wizard f Oz: "I'm melting!" Occasionally the mind wanders during debate.
Debates and significant movement
Tuesday we were on the floor from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm. There was lunch and a couple recesses for caucuses, but basically there were things happening on the floor for most of that time. Because my committee was also trying to finish the Capital Bill and get it up to Appropriations our chair received permission to pull us from the floor and do committee work. That means I missed some of the debate. If the bill being debated was something I felt I needed to hear, then I could have left the committee room, but that was not the case this time.
Several bills came up for second reading. That when much of the debate happens. By third, and final, reading the next day, most of what's going to be said has been said. A bill to help increase broadband access passed, but we got stuck for quite a while on a Home Weatherization bill (H.439). The problem is that it raises a tax, and no one likes that. The money raised from the increased tax on heating fuel is to be used to help fund weatherization for low income Vermonters.
The debate over the tax for weatherization made it apparent that Climate Change may well be an issue this session. There is a contingent that feels very strongly we should be doing a lot more to combat climate change. My personal opinion is that though I DO see this as a existential challenge, I don't see efforts in Vermont having much of an effect. Our carbon footprint is perhaps the smallest in the nation. Efforts to reduce transportation emissions in Vermont don't do much and we have pressing needs in the Corrections, Clean Water and Mental Health fields that need the funds.
Yes, there is a destructive freight train coming down the track, but there's virtually nothing we can do about it. We might as well make these few minutes before it hits a bit more tolerable. That's not a great commentary on the human condition.
The Budget and Education Financing
We also passed the state budget, with very little debate. Only one vote apposed it and that was because the Representative thought we should do more to address climate change. The budget covers about $6.1 billion. The state portion grew by about 3% which is a little high, but over the past five years the growth has been only .5%.
The education financing bill also passed. That's the one that sets the base for each town's property tax and income sensitivity adjustment. Don't get me started.
The Capital Bill
In committee, we finished the Capital Bill Tuesday and sent it over to Appropriations. On Friday we reported it on the floor. I did the Clean Water portion of the bill and it went well. I'm getting better with speaking on the floor. It's not as scary as before, though I still have not had to answer questions. I try to cover every base in the report so no one will need clarification or want to debate the finer points. In fact, most people don't care about the Capital Bill.
After we reported the bill out on Friday, the House adjourned and I jumped in the car and headed to Maine for the weekend. I need the break. It has been a rough couple of weeks. But I'll be ready to get back at it on Tuesday.
The state budget and the capital bill have both now been turned over to the Senate. We'll see what they do to it all.
The lead testing and remediation bill is still in House Education. Paid Family Leave will come out of Ways and Means soon.
And I have a bunch of things I want us to deal with in Committee regarding Corrections.
There's work to do!