What’s happening in committee this week…

by Rob Roper  

HOUSE

The Agriculture Committee will be considering greater regulation on food producers with H. 421 – An act relating to the use and registration of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds in Vermont, and H. 367 – An act relating to labeling genetically engineered food. The latter bill proposes to require all genetically engineered food offered for sale in Vermont to be labeled as such. While transparency and giving consumers information is a good thing, one has to wonder if Vermont is a big enough market for major manufacturers of food products to create special labeling just to be able to sell their products in this state. Will this reduce consumer choice in the end.

Commerce will take up H. 254 – An act relating to consumer protection. This bill proposes to implement new consumer protections relating to goods and services appearing on a telephone bill, to discount membership programs, to security breach notices, and to change the name of the consumer fraud act to the consumer protection act.

Education will consider H. 170 – An act relating to public funding of independent schools. This is one of a pair of bills that would gut Vermont’s vibrant independent school community. This one, sponsored by Rep. Anne Mook of Bennington, needs to be watched very closely.

Fish & Wildlife takes up H. 213 – An act relating to the use and transport of baitfish. Nothing particularly partisan or controversial about this bill, but the title does capture the imagination.

Katie bar the door in Government Operations. The list of bills this committee is discussing this week is so full of gems it’s too difficult to pare down for this space. Everything from voting by mail (H.374), to changing how many times a name can appear on a ballot (H.241) and in what alphabetical order (H.317) to robo calls (H.262)to health care to same day voter registration (H.364) and much more. Check out the whole schedule HERE. It’s an eye opener.

Natural Resources and energy discusses H. 258 – An act relating to public participation in environmental enforcement proceedings.

SENATE

Our favorite committee, Senate Government Operations wants us to buy local, or else. – S. 63 – An act relating to state purchasing from local and socially responsible businesses. This bill proposes to authorize government procurement preferences for local and socially responsible businesses. And, S. 69 – An act relating to government purchasing of Vermont products and services. This bill proposes to require state and local governments to purchase products from Vermont companies and encourage use of Vermont workers in projects that receive state funding. They will also take up S. 74 – An act relating to the transferring of the animal spaying and neutering program to the office of the secretary of state. (Grab your scalpel, Jim Condos!)

The Natural Resources committee takes up  S. 77– An act relating to water testing of private well. “This bill proposes to require a private well used or intended for use as a potable water supply to be tested for drinking water contaminants when the well is initially drilled and as a condition of a contract for sale. The bill also proposes to require the agency of natural resources to develop a well testing kit that would be available to the public. In addition, the bill proposes to require the department of health to revise and update its education and outreach materials regarding the potential health effects of contaminants in private sources of drinking water. While it’s hard to disagree with much of what’s said in this bill, it’s interesting to note that the person testifying in favor of the bill is a Scott Bradley of AquaCheck. It appears as if this bill would force people to buy this company’s product. This seems to be an all to familiar business plan these days…