Bills Move or Stall as Session Nears End
Last week was the 16th week of the 2018 legislative session. The grass out front of the State House is greening. Likewise, as signs of summer begin to emerge, the clock is ticking toward adjournment.
I am pleased that the priorities I outlined in the January 11 edition of the Essex Reporter have passed or are under consideration in final negotiations. Foremost amongst these was creating a new program to provide funding for postsecondary education tuition for Vermonters who serve in the Vermont National Guard. As a member of the House Education Committee, I’ve enjoyed working with Guard leadership to advance a workable proposal through the House. In March, we passed a program that would create a tuition entitlement for eligible Guard personnel who seek to earn up to a 4-year degree at one of the Vermont State Colleges or the University of Vermont. This is an important investment that would put us on par with surrounding states, all of which offer similar support for their Guard personnel. While we successfully passed the program in the budget (H.924) backed by the House, the Senate last week cut its funding. I’m working with a nonpartisan group of House members to restore funding so more of our service people can access college and other postsecondary training.
A second priority I put forward this year was passing a law to protect sensitive voter data maintained by the State and Vermont municipalities. I am grateful that the Senate last week passed a bill I introduced (H.624) to protect your personal information. As I noted in the Essex Reporter at the start of the session, this was a top issue based on feedback I heard last summer from neighbors who were alarmed when President Trump convened a commission to collect voter information from states. The presidential commission generated a lot of pushback. Bipartisan leaders of over 40 states, including our secretary of state, opposed the President’s initiative on the grounds that it could jeopardize election security and personal information. I want to thank the Senate for approving this important bill. I am hopeful Governor Scott will sign it into law once it arrives to his desk.
These are just two of the many bills that will be finalized in the days ahead. I’ll post a session wrap-up to my website, www.vtdylan.com, shortly after we adjourn. I’m grateful for everyone who has reached out during my first term. Thank you — it’s a great honor to serve Essex Junction!