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Legislative Notes for March 20, 2014

March 14, 2014

Returning this week from the annual Town Meeting break we were met with a flurry of activity. A number of bills were passed in the House and many more are in the cue for next week. This flurry of activity is driven by a self- imposed legislative deadline known as crossover. Crossover dates are set at the beginning of the biennium. They establish a benchmark for both the House and Senate to complete their work on bills so that there is an adequate amount of time left in the session for the second chamber to address them. Not all bills pass both chambers and many are modified prior to becoming law. For me, this signals that we are moving toward adjournment.

Several bills passed this week. H.501 and H.823 were both debated on the floor for quite some time so I chose to share them with you. H.501 Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs modifies the definition of impaired. This change stems from the number of prescription drugs on the market that alter the way one feels or reacts when taking them. The change will allow someone to be considered DUI if they are operating a motor vehicle while taking these types of prescriptions. There was a lot of debate about the new definition but, in the end most people voted in favor of the change. I voted to support this bill and the final vote was 140 in favor and 2 opposed.

H.823 Encouraging growth in designated centers and protecting natural resources was a bill heralded as a pro economic growth and incentivizing development bill. The bill provides some incentives but I don’t think that it provides the right balance between providing incentives and tightening restrictions. It creates a new definition in the ACT 250 process for strip development and will likely limit growth outside designated growth centers. Many small towns around the state could be negatively impacted by this bill. Further, developers will be more prone to attack after a permit has been issued. This bill will more likely curb development than incent any growth. For these reasons I voted to oppose this bill however, it passed 92-44.

I was nice to have Trevor, Lisa and Jeff McNanney visit us at the Statehouse this week. Congratulations Trevor for achieving Eagle Scout.

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 http://www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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