MINORITY LEADER DON TURNER
The governor vetoed the first bill of this session on Monday. S.103, an act relating to the regulation of toxic substances and hazardous materials. Current law allows the Vermont health commissioner to issue bans recommended by a committee that includes leaders of several state agencies. The proposed change in S.103 would have given Vermont’s health commissioner the sole authority to ban products containing certain chemicals after consultation with the committee. I disagree with this change which would put too much power in the hands of a single individual. It could also make such decisions more political and potentially less scientific and legitimate. I believe that the current regulatory process is working just fine and the legislature should leave it alone. I will vote to sustain the governor’s veto next week.
I had the opportunity to meet and welcome constituent Dan Osman, director of Camp Daybreak, to the Statehouse this week. He was accompanied by members/volunteers of the camp. Camp Daybreak is a program of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery that serves Vermont kids with a range of social, emotional and behavioral needs. We do this by pairing each of our campers with a high school or college age volunteer. For the campers, it is an opportunity to have a life changing summer experience that may not be possible without our high support ratio. For our volunteers Camp Daybreak is an intensive training in mental health, trauma, and working with kids. Many of our volunteers go on to pursue careers in education, special education, human services, mental health, and medicine. They brought dozens of cupcakes baked here in Milton at Madeline’s Bakery to share with all legislators. I feel that meeting and welcoming people to the Statehouse is one of the best parts about being a legislator.
Thank you and have a great week.
REP. CHRIS MATTOS
This week I would like to give an update on what is happening within committee. The House Education Committee is currently working through drafts of S.257 – miscellaneous changes to education law.
A lot of folks may not know much about radon, but it can be found anywhere, new or old construction. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that finds its way into buildings through cracks or openings within the foundation. Radon testing is offered free of charge by the state to schools. However, since 2001 only 74 schools have utilized the program. Eleven of the tests have levels above the EPA action level. Radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and you cannot see or smell radon, you must test for it. S.257 directs the department of health to determine a plan and complete the testing in schools. It is vital to ensure that everyone who visits our schools is walking into a safe, healthy space.
An ethnic and social equity standards advisory working group is the purpose of section 15 of S.257. The group will be comprised of 17 members. They will be tasked with reviewing the statewide curriculum standards and recommend any updates and additional standards to recognize fully the history, contribution and perspectives of ethnic and social groups. The working group shall report back to the General Assembly of its findings.
There are also numerous changes to the pre-k education system that are still being vetted within committee. We have taken a lot of testimony from a variety of stakeholders. I would suggest reading the latest draft of S.257 to see all of the changes being proposed to education law.
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.