We are two thirds of the way through with 6 more weeks to go of the scheduled legislative session this year.
The House passed H.107 which is a new paid family and medical leave insurance program. This bill makes it mandatory for all wage earners to participate. It also mandates all businesses, to pay into the program as well. The estimated cost for this program was 80 million dollars. Although I felt a paid family and medical leave insurance program would be a wonderful thing to have, I could not support the bill due to the exceptionally high cost. Perhaps a new paid family and medical leave insurance program could start with lower benefits at a substantially lower cost. It could be expanded at some point if it worked out well.
Senate bill S.23 dealing with the $15 per hour minimum wage, is currently being reviewed by a House committee and may move soon to the House floor.
The Senate approved a ban on certain single use plastics, like disposable shopping bags and added a 5-cent charge for paper bags. The House has several similar bills on plastic as well.
Last Tuesday several hundred people came to the State House for a public hearing on S.169. This bill passed by the Senate adds a waiting period for the purchase of handguns. I have heard from several constituents asking me not to support this bill because of this waiting period. This bill was still in the House Judiciary Committee as of late this past week.
Please continue to contact me with your personal ideas, interests and concerns. The best way is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org which is my legislative email. You can also leave messages at my new personal statehouse phone number of (802) 778-1085.
Rep. Chris Mattos
The House Education Committee passed S.40 – An act relating to testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and child care facilities on a 6-5 vote. Everyone in the committee was in support of the concept of the bill, but we could not agree on the funding mechanism. Currently, the testing and remediation would be funded by 70% education fund and 30% general fund. I could not support this funding. We do not know the exact amount of remediation and because of that I couldn’t support the funding largely out of the education fund. The education fund is a self balancing fund by increasing or decreasing property taxes.
On the House floor, we passed H.107 – an act relating to paid family and medical leave on a 92-52 vote. This is $76 million payroll tax imposed on employees. I agree with the concept of the bill, but did not agree with mandating every employee in the state to pay. There was an amendment offered which would allow for an annual opt-out clause for the employee if they did not wish to be a part of the program. I supported this amendment because it gave the employee the choice of whether or not they wanted to pay in to the program and be able to receive the benefit. There is also a program that was announced by Governor Scott and Governor Sununu of New Hampshire that would be a voluntary paid family leave program, but that never made it to the House floor.
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 (802)-922-2059.
Rep. Leland Morgan
This past week on Tuesday evening the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing at the State House. The purpose of the hearing was to take testimony on a bill that proposes a waiting period of 24 hours before taking possession of a handgun that has been purchased. It was a full house, with people for and against, attending. It lasted two hours, and people on both sides got to state their opinions. For the most part it went smoothly and was civil.
A bill relating to paid family and medical leave passed out of the House this week. The concept of this proposal is great. However at a cost of nearly 80 million dollars, I felt it was far too expensive. It would mean more money out of everyone’s paycheck at a time when we are already hard pressed to make ends meet. There was a much more modest proposal brought forth, which was much more realistic, but it was defeated. If this makes it through the process and becomes a reality, I hope you can afford it, and it works well for you.
In my assigned committee (Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife), we are still working on the rewrite of Act 250. It is very long and complicated. I suspect it will not be until next year before we are ready to present it as a bill. The wanton waste bill (coyote bill) is going to be further studied this summer, so we probably won’t hear more about this bill until next year. We have a couple of bills that just came over from the Senate. One is about prohibiting plastic bags and straws. The other is about water quality. We have not started to work on them yet-more to come later.
I have been appointed to a group called the Lake Champlain Citizens Advisory Committee. It consists of two Legislators, two Senators, and other citizens. We meet once a month in Shelburne.
As I get involved and learn more, I will keep you informed.
Thanks, and have a good week.