The 15th week of the legislative session concluded Friday. The Senate is closing in on finalizing its version of the FY2020 state budget. The budget first passed the House in March. After it moves through both chambers, the final negotiation will be worked out by legislative leaders and the administration. Notwithstanding unforeseen disagreements, most State House watchers expect we will adjourn in mid-May.

To date, just 22 bills have passed both the House and Senate. A number of major bills are moving to final completion. These include the FY2020 state budget and revenue bills, the state capital bill, and the transportation funding bill. Additionally, prominent bills in the headlines (increasing the minimum wage, funding cleanup of polluted waterways, regulating legalized marijuana, and proposed constitutional amendments) could be considered by the House before adjournment. The list is long and our time is short.

In the Education Committee, we spent time this week giving final review to a bill (S.40) that sets up a process to test for lead in our schools and childcare centers. I support this public safety initiative. The Senate advanced this bill earlier this session. In the House, we worked closely with experts in the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation to refine the process by which water faucets and taps will be tested. The lead testing bill will be voted on by the House next week.

With so many bills in play, I’ll provide an update in my next column in the Essex Reporter to keep you up to date. We’ll also give a session wrap up at our next community conversation. Please join us on Saturday, June 1 from 8:30 – 10:00am at Nest Coffee & Bakery. We’ve had great turnout, and wonderful discussions, at this year’s meetings — thanks to everyone who has come out to make your voices heard!

If you can’t make our next meeting but want to connect, you can always reach me at dgiambatista@leg.state.vt.us. Please keep in touch and let me know if I can be of assistance.