Senate Committee Advances Drivers’ IDs for Migrants

By Kirk Carapezza The Senate Transportation Committee on Friday advanced a bill that would grant driver identification cards to Vermont residents who are in this country illegally. The bill would allow people who can prove identity and residency in Vermont to get a “driving privilege card.” Under the bill, the state would authorize the Department [...]

UPDATE: House Finalizes Budget; Senate Debates License Plate Readers

By Kirk Carapezza The House voted 91-49 on Friday in favor of a state budge that increases  state spending by roughly 5 percent. The approval came after some amendments offered by Republican legislators were withdrawn. Still, as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the bill sets up a major disagreement with Governor Peter Shumlin over the funding [...]

House Bill Would Decriminalize Possession Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

By Kirk Carapezza For the first time this legislative session, the subject of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana has been before a key Vermont House Committee. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony this morning on a bill that would replace criminal penalties with a $100 fine for those found carrying less than two ounces of [...]

UPDATE: House Advances Shoreland Protection Bill, Turns To Taxes

By Kirk Carapezza The Vermont House takes up a bill that would establish lake shoreland protection standards. Advocates say the bill would preserve the ecosystem and is needed to slow down and filter polluting run-off. They say the bill has been reworked to address property owners’ concerns by saying shorelands of the state owned by [...]

House Committee Approves Budget That Would Limit Welfare

By Kirk Carapezza The Vermont House is preparing to debate the budget and a number of new tax proposals this week, and House leaders are already trying to line up votes for a $1.3 billion plan that includes a contentious bid to cap welfare benefits. Since national welfare reform in the 1990s, Vermont hasn’t limited [...]

Senators Modify Renewable Energy Bill; House Takes Up Shoreline Protection

By Kirk Carapezza In what is seen as a major victory for wind proponents, the Vermont Senate has amended a bill that would have established a new, more rigid process for siting energy projects. The amendment, which passed 16-14, effectively strips the legislation of its major policy goal: to grant local control over energy development, [...]

Facing Budget Woes, House Passes Watered Down Weatherization Bill

By Kirk Carapezza Some lawmakers’ hopes of passing meaningful climate change legislation this session that might reduce greenhouse gas emissions have collided with the state’s fiscal reality. Rep. Margaret Cheney, D-Norwich, sponsored a thermal efficiency bill that originally would have, among other things, earmarked millions of dollars for the weatherization of homes and businesses in [...]

House Committee Backs $26M Tax Plan That Includes Rooms and Meals

By Kirk Carapezza A key House committee has given preliminary approval to a tax package that would raise roughly $26 million, putting it on a collision course with the governor because it includes provisions he opposes. Governor Peter Shumlin has said he does not want to raise broad-based taxes. The House Ways and Means Committee [...]

House Advances Anti-Narcotics Bills

By Kirk Carapezza After weeks of studying Vermont’s prescription drug problem, House lawmakers on Thursday advanced a sweeping bill that would address opiate addiction and abuse. Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, the lead sponsor of the bill, said even before this legislative session began, he repeatedly heard from law enforcement officials who urged the Legislature to [...]

Senate Orders Study Of Social Media Privacy Laws

By John Dillon Legislation that would have banned employers from accessing the social media accounts of their workers was watered down to a study of the issue by the Vermont Senate. The Senate on Thursday passed the measure on a unanimous voice vote. It sets up a study of existing social media privacy laws, as [...]