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Legislative Notes for March 17, 2011

March 13, 2011

The atmosphere at the Statehouse is beginning to change as another week has passed and we move closer to the end of the session.  This was an important week because Friday was the last day a committee could pass out a bill that does not require an appropriation.  This day is referred to as crossover day.  Theoretically speaking, it means that all of the bills that passed the House are now sent to the Senate for their approval and all of the bills passed in the Senate are sent to the House for our approval.  As it seems with all legislative rules there are ways leadership can maneuver around this self imposed deadline.  One such measure is the use of a committee bill.  These bills are proposed  or introduced by a committee usually under the direction of the Speaker and are exempt from the crossover date.  This happens quite frequently and is usually the outcome of negotiation for votes on a more controversial piece of legislation.

Many bills were voted out of their respective committee on Friday to meet this deadline.  These bills will be reported on the floor next week.  They include an energy bill, a bill that may ultimately end the life of “Pete” the Moose, as well as an enhancement to the open records and DUI laws to name a few.  Some of these proposed laws will not be controversial but, many will be debated for  hours.  However, the outcome is always predetermined by the legislative leadership.  There is no way the Speaker will allow a bill to come out of committee if he doesn’t have the votes to pass it on the floor.  Therefore, as the minority leader I will work with my caucus members who serve on the committees of jurisdiction to bring attention to the most controversial aspects of each bill on the floor.  My hope is that the press will pick up on these points and convey this concern to Vermonters.  I want people in this state to know that there are people serving in Montpelier with a different philosophy unfortunately, there are not enough of us to effect change this session.

The next few weeks will be very busy.  The health care reform, appropriations (budget), capital, transportation and miscellaneous tax bills will all take many hours to report and debate.  This means we will begin reporting to the floor everyday at 9:30 AM thus spending more time on the floor than in committee.   This is another sign that we are moving closer to adjournment.

As your representative, I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you.  During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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