Legislative Preview

A look at what’s happening under the Golden Dome this week

The big action in Montpelier this week will take place in the House Healthcare Committee where Chairman Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln) hopes to finish work on H.559 – An act relating to healthcare reform implementation, and vote it over to the Senate. Not to get folks too excited, the committee is of divided opinion as to whether or not that’s realistic given the amount of unresolved ground that needs to be covered before a vote.

Seven sections of the bill still need to be finalized. Among the controversial topics yet to be decided are whether or not to force businesses of 51-100 employees into the benefits exchange, whether or not insurance plans should be offered outside of the exchange, whether or not “Bronze” plans (HAS’s & HRAs) will be allowed in the exchange, and, what will be the fate of teachers? Will they be forced to participate in the exchange or will they be grandfathered out?

Although it is not likely to be taken up by the committee, the question of how much a single payer system – the ultimate goal of Act 48 and H.559 — will cost, how it will be paid for and what the benefits package will look like is still not a part of this bill.

Moving on, here’s a laugh… While Administration hammering small businesses into conformity with their single payer, government monopoly healthcare schemes… While the AFL-CIO sends a thug into the Senate President Pro Tem’s office with a bribe/threat to coerce daycare providers into their union (more on that in a minute)… the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee will take up H. 691 – An act relating to prohibiting collusion as an antitrust violation.

This bill proposes to, “provide that collusion-an agreement, contract, combination in the form of trusts or otherwise, or conspiracy to engage in price fixing, bid rigging, or market division of allocation for goods or services-is unlawful and subject to enforcement under the state consumer fraud act.” Is this some kind of a sick joke? Let’s hope it passes, then the governments attempt to ram a single payer healthcare system down our throats would be illegal for sure.

As for the Campbell/AFL-CIO union story… this note is a little off topic of State House doings, and more along the lines of media bias. The news site Vermont Digger’s new reporter Alen Panebaker repeatedly labels entities such as Vermont Tiger and the Ethan Allen institute as “conservative” in his stories, which would be fine if other entities such as VPIRG and, well, Digger itself, were labeled “liberal” when they come up. They’re not. (An email to the editor of Digger on this topic has gone unanswered.)

However, it was curious to observe that in the story Panebaker wrote about the AFL-CIO threat to Campbell, the writer seems to go out of his way NOT to mention the party label of the senator: “Campbell claims Johnson attempted to intimidate him by sliding a piece of paper across his desk that showed how much money the union had spent on political action committees that supported Campbell and his party [emphasis added] and asking him to support the bill.” Campbell’s party, supported by this these kinds of people and this kind of activity, is, by the way, Democrat.

Back to the State House…

For the hunters in our readership, there are a couple of bills in Fish & Wildlife that may be of interest. H. 574 – An act relating to wearing blaze orange while hunting deer, which, as the title implies, “proposes to require a person taking game to wear a blaze orange hat and a blaze orange shirt, vest, or coat.” And H. 410 – An act relating to violations for taking deer out of season, which would increase the fines and prison sentence for doing so.

One more bit of outrage… The General Housing & Military Affairs Committee will debate H. 717 – An act relating to criminal history record inquiries by an employer. This bill would make it illegal for an employer to do a criminal background check on a potential employee in the initial phase of hiring. “An employer may inquire about a prospective employee’s criminal history record in an interview or once the prospective employee has been deemed otherwise qualified for the position.” However, the bill goes on to state that, “An employer may inquire about any criminal convictions on an initial employee application form if: (1) the applicant is applying for a position for which any federal or state law or regulation creates mandatory or presumptive disqualification based on a conviction for one or more types of criminal offenses.”

Here’s the outrage: why does the government get to be the sole determinant of what positions in the private workforce a conviction for one or more criminal types of offenses are deemed disqualifying. Shouldn’t that be the prerogative of the employer? If it doesn’t make sense to waste people’s time because the government has its standards, then it doesn’t make sense to waste people’s time if an employer has his or her standards either.

But, it seems the folks who rule under the Golden Dome very sincerely think of the rest of us as second class citizens.

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