We just concluded the 16th week of the 2019 legislative session. The House and Senate are expected to adjourn sometime in the next week or two. We have been debating the final set of bills that will advance this year. 728 bills have been introduced by legislators since we convened in January. As of May 3rd, just 27 of these bills have passed both chambers. The Governor has signed 9 into law. Many more are expected to be signed within weeks of adjournment.
New laws are the product of months of committee work and thoughtful deliberation between lawmakers, the administration, and various stakeholders. The goal is to find common ground. Even the most contentious negotiations generally remain respectful. This is a key part of what sets Vermont’s legislative process apart from the gridlock in Washington DC.
It remains to be seen whether the Governor will exercise his veto power on any of the bills that pass. If a veto occurs, lawmakers will briefly return in June to vote on whether to support or overturn the Governor’s veto. Historically, vetoes are seldom used. In the 2017-2018 session, the Governor vetoed 13 bills. We should know in the next week or two whether a veto session will take place.
One of the major bills the House Education has worked on (S.40), testing for the presence of lead in school water systems, passed the House on May 2nd. The House version of the bill is similar to what was passed by the Senate earlier this year. While some final negotiating may need to take place before we conclude, both bodies have set an urgent goal to test for lead in our schools and childcare centers. If problems are identified, we have provided funding to remediate impacted faucets and other water taps. I’m hopeful this initiative is passed immediately so we can get testing underway and address this public health challenge.
With a variety of bills in play, we invite you to join our next community coffee meeting. We will meet at Nest Coffee & Bakery from 8:30 – 10:00am on Saturday, June 1. Representatives from the Village and Town have been attending these meetings to get feedback from neighbors. This meeting will include a wrap up of the 2019 session. Please join us and let us know where you stand on the issues.
As things wind down, I’ll be publishing an end of session report to recap this year’s legislative session. You can find updates on the blog on my website, www.vtdylan.com, and on Front Porch Forum. I will be attending local meetings and want to connect with neighbors. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any meetings you’d like me to attend, or topics you’d like to discuss. I’m always happy to chat.
We live in a great community – it’s an honor to Represent Essex Junction in the Vermont House. Please keep in touch and say hello as we cross paths around town!