MINORITY LEADER DON TURNER

We have reached the mid-point of the legislative session. A point referred to as crossover, this means that a bill that has any chance of becoming law has now been passed out of either a House or Senate committee. As with anything in the legislature, controlling leadership can modify this rule if they can convince the other body of the bill’s necessity. This week a number of bills passed the House, and many more will be up for action upon our return to the legislature after Town Meeting break.

Emotions continue to run high at the State House. The Senate passed a number of bills pertaining to guns. The House passed H.675, which had a number of provisions related to public safety. It allowed law enforcement to seize guns under certain circumstances. I fully support the underlying intent of the bill; however, certain provisions of the bill appear to infringe on our constitutional rights. I did not support the final bill and hope the Senate will work to improve it so I can support it in the future. I believe that we do need to improve public safety; however, we cannot undermine an individual’s constitutional rights in doing so. We need to have open conversations that put everything on the table, including looking at where changes in our guns laws make sense while balancing constitutional rights. I am committed to listening to the proposals that come before us in the Vermont legislature, and supporting those that offer real solutions.

Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to representing you in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments or concerns. I can be reached at the State House by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. Thank you and have a great week.

REP. CHRIS MATTOS

The midpoint of the 2018 legislative session has arrived! This week the general assembly is on its annual Town Meeting break. Things will continue to heat up more as we return to the State House next week. Numerous bills will be debated on the floor coming from the various House committees. Income tax, property tax, school safety and gun safety look to be key topics.

Starting with the House Committee on Education, which I’m a part of, we will be returning to debate within our committee on H.911 – an act relating to changes in Vermont’s personal income tax and education financing system. This bill came over from the Ways & Means Committee. The bill aims to reduce income taxes for Vermonters affected by the new federal tax law and property taxes for homestead properties while creating a new income tax surcharge on all Vermont income filers. The new income tax surcharge, on average, will reduce homestead property tax rates by $0.15. Estimates for Milton, on average, would be a reduction from $1.46 to $1.29 for homestead property tax rates and 2.42 percent to 2.13 percent tax rate on household incomes. Keep in mind: This does not factor in the new income tax surcharge that will be imposed.

Also, we will continue taking testimony on H.794 – an act relating to the adoption of ethnic studies standards into statewide educational standards and a policy on ethnic and social equity in schools by public schools and approved independent schools.

I look forward to coming back next week ready to start the second half of the session!

If you have any concerns, questions or comments I would be happy to listen. Feel free to reach me by email at cmattos@leg.state.vt.us or by cell at 922-2059.

SEN. CAROLYN BRANAGAN

Last Wednesday afternoon on a 30-0 vote, the Vermont State Senate approved a bill written to make our state safer and provide supportive help to those suffering from stressful personal crisis.

S.221 an act relating to establishing extreme risk prevention orders, was presented on the Senate floor by Bennington county Sen. Dick Sears. Sen. Sears is a real statesman. A trusted thinker with years of experience on the Judicial Committee, Sears guided the other senators through S.221 section by section.

This bill is not just a feel-good, quick response kind of answer to the growing violence reported with firearms. It is a real first step, providing a solution when troubled Vermonters are in a time of personal, crisis and in danger of harming themselves or others.

The bill sets boundaries for folks disturbed by thoughts of suicide or mass murder. Those who are so traumatized they are considering harming themselves or others need to have all weapons placed out of reach from harming themselves and others. These are people who are at extreme risk of committing violent acts.

To do this, S.221 sets up a procedure where authorities can get a court approval to remove weapons. The bill follows the Vermont constitution. This bill is the first piece in a complicated puzzle we must put together. Obviously the Vermont Legislature only has control over laws in our state. The first step for us is to protect our own people. More changes are coming.

As always, for more information contact me at cbranagan@leg.state.vt.us. I want to hear from you.