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Legislative Notes for March 1, 2012

February 25, 2012

The House passed the fee and the healthcare reform bill this week. These two significant bills were both passed predominately on party lines. Each bill will have a direct impact on our daily lives and continue to raise the cost of living here in Vermont. As a result, I could not support passage of either bill.

With a total annual budget of just over five billion dollars, it takes many forms of income or revenue as it is referred to in government to operate the business we know as the State of Vermont. Fee for services is one form of revenue and many state agencies charge fees for their service. The amount of that fee is determined by what it actually costs the agency to provide the specific service. An example of a fee for service would be the cost associated with your driver’s license. The Department of Motor Vehicles at some point in the past made a determination on how much it costs to make issue and maintain records for driver’s licenses in Vermont. There are numerous agencies within state government and hundreds of fee for service revenue streams. These fees are actually set by the legislature on an annual basis. I understand that the administration proposes which fees are to be raised on an annual basis and attempts to have every fee reviewed at least once every three years. The fee bill this year raises an additional nine million dollars from increased fees with over six million of that increase attributed to the agency of transportation. The bill also included additional taxes on healthcare providers. The cost of living in Vermont is already far too expensive.

The healthcare exchange bill was also debated on the floor this week for many hours. The exchange is a requirement of the Federal healthcare reform act of 2010 but, this proposal is far too restrictive and does not embrace the robust health insurance marketplace that was envisioned in the federal law. This bill is part of the Governor’s healthcare experiment for Vermont and is quite troubling. It will mandate that you or your employer purchase insurance from within this state operated insurance exchange if you work for an employer with fifty or fewer employees. This is an untested system with few details on the types of benefit packages or their cost and will be implemented on January 1, 2014. I support the concept of an exchange with a robust insurance marketplace but could not support this bill because it did not allow for choice, did not have flexibility and does not provide for transparency in relation to benefits or cost.

Hosting friends and constituents at the Statehouse is one of the things I enjoy most about serving in the legislature. If you would like to visit the Statehouse please feel free to contact me to arrange a date and time.

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 iswww.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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