We have now completed the sixth week of this year’s session. The biggest thing this past week was the Governor’s veto on the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that would have added a 29-million-dollar payroll tax to be paid by all workers, even those who could not receive these benefits. As I mentioned before, Paid Family and Medical Leave for Vermonters would be great, but I felt it should be voluntary and not another mandate by State government. The veto was sustained by just one vote. All 43 republicans in the House voted to sustain the Governor’s veto along with 4 Independents and 4 Democrats. This veto being sustained by just 1 vote, shows democracy in action and emphasizes that every vote does count. I’m hoping that we might now be able to proceed with the Governor’s voluntary plan that employers and employees could opt-in. This leave plan would utilize state employees as a base greatly helping to fund the plan. I feel that with an affordable Family and Medical Leave plan, our workers could voluntarily participate and enjoy the benefits of the plan.
S-54 Tax and Regulate Bill for Cannabis continues to move along. After this bill was passed out of my committee being House Government Operations, it went on to the Ways & Means Committee where they made some changes regarding taxes. The bill has now moved to the Appropriations Committee which should be the last stop before making it to the House floor. I don’t agree with some of the proposed changes that have been made but nothing is final yet.
Based on my long career in public safety being 37 years in law enforcement and 16 years in EMS, I have a hard time with this bill. As I have said, this is mostly due to my great concern for the education of our youth, substance abuse of cannabis and for highway safety. I strongly anticipate this Tax and Regulate bill will eventually become law and I have worked hard to get things in the bill trying to make the best of it. I may not personally care for this bill, but I will do my job as your elected representative and vote on this bill, taking into great consideration the wishes of my constituents. So please continue to communicate your thoughts on this bill to me. This bill will be up for a vote very soon.
As I am writing this article for the Milton Independent on Monday, February 10th, I have just received a legislative email advising that the Governor has vetoed S-23, the bill on Minimum Wage. Fiscal analysis of this bill has advised of many negative things including “projected job losses, decreases to employee hours and increased costs of goods and services that would offset the intended positive benefits for workers”. It goes on to say that these effects will be felt more in rural areas of the state and there will be an overall negative impact on economic growth. I have believed when this bill first started that these negative things along with others would occur. I feel strongly that this bill as proposed is not what our workers and businesses need.
On another note there will be a Public Hearing by the House Committee on Judiciary for H. 610 which is an Act Relating to Firearms and Domestic Violence on February 18, 2020 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM in the House Chamber at the Statehouse for anyone wanting to attend. This bill can be found on the legislative website at https://legislature.vermont.gov where you can also find all other House and Senate Bills.
Please continue to contact me with your personal ideas, interests and concerns. The best way continues to be by email at firstname.lastname@example.org which is my legislative email. You can leave messages at (802) 893-4851 or at the Sergeant at Arms Office at the Statehouse number of (802) 828-2228.
Rep. John Palasik