Bullets we dodged… this time

by Angela Chagnon

H.97, the controversial bill that would have created a union for childcare providers made it through the house and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. This one will be back next year.

H.239 would have forced employees to pay union fees regardless of membership. The statement of purpose reads:

“This bill proposes to require that employees in bargaining units organized under state law who do not join the labor organization representing the unit pay a fair share agency fee.”

This bill died in the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee.

H.199 would have required that anyone who donated $10.00 or more to a candidate’s campaign be named in the campaign finance report that is submitted to the state. Current law requires that anyone who gives $100 be named in the report.

H.258 proposed to allow anyone who claimed to be affected by an environmental violation to join in legal action taken against a person or company. The bill passed the House but didn’t make it out of the Senate Rules Committee. The “Weekly Legislative Report”, a newsletter distributed by the League of Cities and Towns, reported in the April 22 issue that H.258 had passed the House “largely intact without consideration of proposals for amendment put forth by the regulated community including local governments and over the objections of local officials.”

S.92 would have required schools to only use “green” cleaning products. A House amendment proposed by Rep. Sarah Buxton (D-Royalton) would have banned the sale of air fresheners to schools. The amendment was sent to the Senate for approval, but the bill seems to have been left in limbo.

H.298 proposed requiring towns with 1,000 registered voters or more to use vote tabulators to count ballots in general elections. The bill would also have required that ballots be printed on standardized index stock and to be readable by vote tabulators. The bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee on April 25 and was not taken up for consideration.

Another near miss this session was H.274, known as the Assisted Suicide bill. Despite Governor Shumlin’s repeated professions of undying support during his campaign (pun intended), the bill didn’t even make it out of committee. Pro-assisted suicide groups in Vermont and Oregon had provided financial help to Shumlin’s gubernatorial campaign due to his promise to pass the legislation in 2011:

“As Governor, I will strongly champion death with dignity legislation. … As Governor, I will make this a top priority and ask the legislature to take this civil rights issue up and pass it prior to adjournment in 2011.”

And last but not least, there was S.20. This bill was an attempt at campaign finance that was pretty much written by VPIRG.

Opponents of the bill had concerns that S.20 is, like its predecessor, unconstitutional. The bill received much attention in the Senate Government Operations Committee but fizzled out after Governor Shumlin remarked that the bill would not be effective.