A Look Ahead at the Legislature This Week

VPR Staff

State lawmakers this week will take up a bill that would suspend utility-scale wind projects in Vermont for up to three years. The legislation also requires that towns approve the towers and turbines planned on Vermont ridgelines.

This bill proposes to prohibit most commercial construction, including electric generation facilities, in state parks and forests, in designated natural areas, on conserved lands, and on lands managed by the Agency of Natural Resources. This bill also proposes to amend the Public Service Board’s criteria for issuing a certificate of public good for wind towers and turbines by requiring the approval of affected municipalities.

On Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee will mark up and likely vote on the measure, which has generated a lot of debate – in the Northeast Kingdom, in southern Vermont and in Washington. Last month Sen. Bernie Sanders got into the fray, opposing the bill and weighing in on what many see as a state and local issue.

“I know that the day after a moratorium is passed here in the state of Vermont, if that were to take place, that the fossil fuel industry, the coal industry, the oil industry would be advertising all over America that even in the progressive state of Vermont – even in the so-called environmentally-conscious state of Vermont – they don’t want to go fast on sustainable energy.” -Sen. Bernie Sanders

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, confers with the director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Vermont office Chris Kilian  before announcing his decision to oppose a moratorium on wind energy development on Vermont’s ridgelines in Burlington last month.

Childcare Unionization

Last year, the Senate debated whether to allow childcare providers to unionize. Ultimately, lawmakers never passed a bill but supporters are pushing for one again this session.

S. 52: This bill proposes to extend collective bargaining rights to child care providers to improve the quality of early education in Vermont. (Read the bill here.)

At issue is whether the Legislature should extend collective bargaining rights to childcare providers. Supporters say a union will allow them to set their rates, create benefits and improve the quality of early education in Vermont. Opponents say the union dues would put providers out of business and increase the cost of childcare for everyone. Gov. Peter Shumlin has predicted the bill will pass this session.

The Senate Economic Development Committee will hear testimony early this week from a number of stakeholders and then hold a public hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m.

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Hare’s ear fly fishing fly. (Flickr/ASGriffiths)

In other legislative news, the House Commerce Committee will review a clean energy loan bill and lawmakers will debate restrictions on fire retardant chemicals in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

Also, there’s a critically important act relating to the designation of a state fly-fishing fly, which gets a hearing in front of its sponsor, Westminster Representative David Deen. So what are the early favorites? VPR’s John Dillon, our resident fly fisherman, predicts either the hare’s ear or the wooly bugger.