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VERMONT COALITION FOR DISABILITY RIGHTS

VCDR 2021 Legislative Update March 22 – March 26

VCDR 2021 Weekly Summary of Legislative Activities, Committee Agendas and Calendar of Events

March 22 – March 26

Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights

Legislature

The Legislature reconvened on Wednesday January 6th. This is a new biennium with newly elected Representatives and Senators along with those returning to the legislature, new leadership in the House and Senate, and a new Lt Governor. 

The Legislature has made a decision and will continue to meet remotely, as they have since March of 2020 for the remainder of this legislative year. Although there certainly have been some technology issues and other with meeting remotely, for the most part all legislative meetings can be accessed remotely. This included the respective caucus, floor sessions of the House and Senate, legislative committees and other special committees. (See links below)

The Legislature is meeting on a fairly regular schedule (Tuesdays through Friday) to do the session’s work. House Appropriations generally meets on Mondays as well.

The work to combat the ongoing Coronavirus health and economic crisis continues to be on the front burner for the Scott Administration and the Legislature, as it was last year. House and Senate Leadership are tackling other key issues as well.

The ongoing crisis a has only heightened the precarious situations many Vermonters face: low income children accessing the internet for remote learning; food insecurity and isolation for the elderly and those with disabilities; loss of income and/or those needing to work for low wages on the front lines with few safety measures; housing; healthcare and many equity issues.

Much work remains to help stabilize low income families in the short term and include all Vermonters in the recovery efforts.

The legislature addressed a number of these issues during the extended session last year with the help of substantial federal funds and existing state revenues, and the focus this session will again be COVID recovery efforts. There are some additional federal funds passed in H.R. 133 already authorized in December (see link below).

***NEW*** President Joe Biden and Congress have passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill – the “American Rescue Plan Act”. For Vermont the bill includes:

  • 89% of Vermont households will be receiving a direct payment – 428,000 adults and 145,000 kids in Vermont will be receiving direct payments averaging $2,230 per household.
  • The bill increases the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 and to $3,600 for families with kids under the age of 6. This will help over 143,000 children in Vermont.
  • $1.35 billion in COVID-relief will be going to the state of Vermont and local governments
  • $152 million in rent and utility relief will be going to Vermonters who owe thousands of dollars in back rent.
  • $50 million in mortgage assistance will be going to struggling Vermont homeowners
  •  $27 million will be provided to Vermont for vaccine distribution.
  • Vermont will also receive a substantial increase in funding for summer school and after school programs, community health centers, mass transit and many other vital programs. (See articles below)

**NEW** The House Appropriation Committee is voting out their version of the FY 2022 Budget presented by the Governor in January. The bill begins to use some of the additional federal stimulus dollars in the America Rescue Plan Act, but will change as more information becomes available when the bill reaches the Senate.

The House and Senate have passed another COVID Relief Bill (H.315) and the House will pass an Economic Development bill this week (H159

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***VCDR PLATFORM***

Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights 2021 Legislative Platform

Attached

VCDR Website: www.VCDR.org

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***THIS WEEK***

The FY 2022 Budget as passed out of House Appropriation will be debated on the Floor this week as will H.159 the Economic Development Bill (Better Places).

House Human Services will take up H. 265 – An act relating to the Office of the Child Advocate and the House General will mark up and possibly take a vote on J.R.H. 2 – Joint resolution sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices.

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***Featured LEGISLATIVE UPDATES ***

MadFreedom is a human and civil rights advocacy organization whose mission is to secure political power to end discrimination and oppression of people based on perceived mental state. Each week, MadFreedom curates a calendar of committee hearings in the Vermont legislature that concern issues of interest to psychiatric survivors and/or social justice advocates.

**NEW** Link to this week’s calendar:  03/22/2021 –       https://mcusercontent.com/4c0f316156312742402b0121c/files/74c5586e-a991-4ce0-89ba-38a561c02a26/2021March22_Committee_Meeting.pdf                                              

**NEW** Vermont Cares Partners – March 3, 2021

Legislative Update for March 17, 2021

https://vermontcarepartners.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Legislative-Update-for-March-17-2021-1.pdf

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***LEGISLATIVE PAGES***

Legislature Website: https://legislature.vermont.gov/

Announcements – Caucuses, Meetings and Streaming Links:

https://legislature.vermont.gov/home/noteworthy/announcements/

Complete Schedule of Legislative Committee Agendas: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/weeklyAgendas/2022

House and Senate Committee Pages: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2022/9/Date/1-15-2021#documents-section

All committees can be viewed through you tube LIVE STREAM. You can find the link on the committee’s page or the agenda.

House and Senate Floor Times:

Senate Sessions Tuesday at 9:30 AM
Wednesday at 1:00 PM
Thursday at 1:00 PM
Friday at 11:30 AM  

House Sessions                                   

Tuesday at 10:00 AM                        
Wednesday at 1:15 PM
Thursday at 1:15 PM
Friday at 9:30 AM

Times are subject to change.

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***SELECTED LEGISLATION and TESTIMONY ***

**NEW** COVID-19 Relief Bill, as passed by the House, amended by the Senate

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/WorkGroups/Senate%20Appropriations/Bills/H.315/H.315~none~DRAFT%20As%20amendended%20by%20the%20Committee%20on%20Senate%20Appropriations~3-16-2021.pdf

***NEW*** H. 101 – An act relating to the implementation of 2018 Acts and Resolves No. 173 by providing grant funding to build systems-driven, sustainable literacy support for all students with measurable outcomes Passed the House

H.101: As Recommended by the House Committee on Education

Resolution recognizing and honoring the work of our own Ed Paquin!  

H.C.R.23 – House concurrent resolution honoring former Representative Edward H. Paquin Jr. for his exemplary leadership as a disability rights advocate.https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/RESOLUTN/HCR023/HCR023%20As%20Introduced.pdf

The AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

Senator Sanders Summary –https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/The%20American%20Rescue%20Plan%20Act%20Summary%20FINAL.pdf 

In HOUSE HUMAN SERVICES

***NEW*** H.265 an act relating to the Office of the Child Advocate              H.265: Draft 1.1, 3-15-2021

H.265: Vermont Children’s Alliance Public Comment

SENATE JUDICIARY

S. 3 – An act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense (as recommended by Senate Committee on the Judiciary)  https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/WorkGroups/Senate%20Judiciary/Bills/S.3/Drafts,%20Amendments,%20and%20Legal%20Documents/S.3~Erik%20Fitzpatrick~As%20recommended%20by%20the%20Senate%20Committee%20on%20Judiciary~3-12-2021.pdf 

House General Committee

J.R.H. 2 – Joint resolution sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices

JRH.2: As Introduced

JRH.2: Additional Whereas Language

ED PAQUIN

SUSAN ARANOFF

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***JOINT FISCAL INFORMATION***

Joint Fiscal Page: https://ljfo.vermont.gov/

Subjects (Budgets): https://ljfo.vermont.gov/subjects/appropriations-and-budget

FY 2022 Budget – the House Appropriation full budget not available yet, but the Webpage shows their initial changes

***NEW*** House Web Report on FY 2022 Budget – March 22

https://ljfo.vermont.gov/custom_reports/webreports/webreports/web/FY2022%20Big%20Bill%20Web%20Report%203-22-2021%204_24_33%20PM.html#id3440100000

FY22 Recommended Budget Executive Summary  https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/WorkGroups/House%20Appropriations/FY%202022%20State%20Budget/W~Governor’s%20Recommended%20FY%202022%20State%20Budget~Executive%20Budget%20Summary~1-26-2021.pdf 

Stimulus Package:
2nd Federal Stimulus Package – Estimates to Vermont – Updated January 15, 2021

All Coronavirus Relief Fund Appropriations by Category of 2020 CARES Act

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***COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS***

House and Senate Committee Pages: https://legislature.vermont.gov/

Weekly Committee Agendas: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/weeklyAgendas/2022

Below please find highlight of House and Senate Committees this week. You can go to any committee page to find documents, bills, and testimony by date, witness, bill numbers and key word searches. The House Appropriations Committee generally meets on Mondays until they pass the budget over to the Senate; most other committees meet Tuesday through Friday.

HOUSE COMMITTEES

House Committee on Appropriations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/9

On Monday House Appropriation will finalize the FY 2022 Budget. It will be debated on the Floor this week. On Wednesday the will take up H.315 the COVID Relief Bill as passed by the Senate.

House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/11

On Tuesday and Wednesday the committee will take up H. 159 – An act relating to creating the Better Places Program (the Committee’s Economic Development Bill) voted out on Friday and discuss amendments. On Wednesday and Thursday they will take up H.315 COVID Relief Bill as passed by the Senate to review changes.

Bills voted out of Committee:

H. 159 – An act relating to creating the Better Places Program. This bill will become the Committee’s Economic Development Bill.

H. 159 H.159: As Recommended by House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, Draft 8.1, 3-12-2021

House Committee on Corrections and Institutions: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/17

On Tuesday the committee will take up   H. 435 – An act relating to miscellaneous Department of Corrections-related amendments. This bill proposes to make 6 miscellaneous changes regarding the Department of Corrections, including the organizational structure, practices for hiring, training, certifying, and disciplining employees, and authorizes the use of body cameras for correctional officers. On Wednesday they will take up  S. 18 – An act relating to limiting earned good time sentence reductions for offenders convicted of certain crime

House Committee on Education: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/10

Bills voted out of committee:

H. 101 – An act relating to the implementation of 2018 Acts and Resolves No. 173 by providing grant funding to build systems-driven, sustainable literacy support for all

(Act No. 173 (H.897of 2018). Education; special education funding – an act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support). On Thursday they will take up 21-0782 – An act relating to addressing the needs and conditions of school facilities in the state.

H.101 H.101: Draft 7.1, 3-9-2021 Committee Amendment

House Committee on Energy and Technology: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/19

House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/13

On Tuesday they will take up H. 211 – An act relating to recovery residences and S. 79 – An act relating to improving rental housing health and safety. On Wednesday the will talk about the Eviction Moratorium and on Thursday and Friday they will take up J.R.H. 2 – Joint resolution sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices.

S.79 S.79: As Recommended by the Senate Commmittee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs

Other bills in committee:

H. 96 – An act relating to creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Development Task Force H.96: As Introduced

House Committee on Government Operations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/14

The committee will take up Pensions most of the week

Bills voted out of committee:

H. 196 – An act relating to supporting the work of the Executive Director of Racial Equity H.196: As Recommended by House Committee on Government Operations

H. 293 – An act relating to creating the State Youth Council

House Committee on Health Care: H.293: As Recommended by House Committee on Government Operations

House Committee on Health Care

https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/15

On Tuesday the committee will take up Home and Community Health Care Provider Services and discuss H.153 – An act relating to Medicaid reimbursement rates for home- and community-based service providers

Bills voted out of committee:

H. 210 – An act relating to addressing disparities and promoting equity in the health care system and hear from the Director of Racial Equity and the Governor’s Task Force on Racial Equality.

H.210 – H.210: As Recommended by House Health Care Committee

House Committee on Human Services: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/16

On Tuesday the committee will take up H. 171 – An act relating to the governance and financing of Vermont’s child care system and on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday  the committee will take up  and   H. 265 –

H.265 An act relating to the Office of the Child Advocate.

H.265: Draft 1.1, 3-15-2021 

H. 171 – An act relating to the governance and financing of Vermont’s child care system

H.171 H.171: Draft 5.3, 3-9-2021 

Other Bills in Committee:

H.114 – An act relating to the Nutrition for Older Vermonters Working Group https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0114/H-0114%20As%20Introduced.pdf

House Committee on Judiciary: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/18  

On Tuesday the committee will take up H. 183 – An act relating to sexual violence and S. 7 – An act relating to expanding access to expungement and sealing of criminal history records

Bills voted out of Committee:

H.183 H.183: Bill as Recommended by House Committee on Judiciary

H. 145 – An act relating to amending the standards for law enforcement use of force H.145: Bill as Recommended by House Committee on Judiciary 

H.128 – An act relating to limiting criminal defenses based on victim identity

H.128: Bill as Recommended by House Committee on Judiciary 

House Committee on Transportation    https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/20

On Tuesday and Wednesday the committee will take up   H. 433 – An act relating to the Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportation

H.433

DR 21-0655, As Recommended by the House Committee on Transportation

House Committee on Ways and Means: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/21

SENATE COMMITTEES

Senate Committee on Appropriations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/23

The committee will take up   21-0540 – An act relating to FY 2022 Governor’s Recommended State Budget all week and on Tuesday they will walk through the House Appropriations version of the bill.

Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs

https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/32                    

On Tuesday the committee will take up S. 79 – An act relating to improving rental housing health and safety and S.10 – An act relating to extending certain unemployment insurance provisions related to COVID-19

Bills voted out of committee:

S. 79 – An act relating to improving rental housing health and safety                S.79: As Recommended by the Senate Commmittee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs .

S S.10 – An act relating to extending certain unemployment insurance provisions related to COVID-19                                                                      S.10: As Recommended by the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs

Senate Committee on Education: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/24

On Tuesday the committee will discuss Universal school breakfast and lunch for all public school students, Equitable Access to a High-Quality Education and  COVID Relief Funding

H.106 Equitable Access to a High-Quality Education (passed by House)

H.106: Draft 9.1, 3-9-2021

S.100 Universal school breakfast and lunch for all public school students  S.100: Draft 1.1, 3-19-2021 Campion Amendment 

Bills in Committee:

S. 84 – An act relating to the use of exclusionary discipline for students who are under eight years of age and to school district truancy referrals to the State’s Attorneys https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/S-0084/S-0084%20As%20Introduced.pdf

S.84: Research Regarding Pre-K to 12 School Exclusion

Senate Committee on Finance: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/25

Bills in Committee:

S. 60 – An act relating to allowing municipal and cooperative utilities to offer innovative rates and services and Arrearages and Disconnections in a Pandemic  S.60: As Recommended by Senate Finance

S. 59 – An act relating to an income tax surcharge to reduce State retirement liabilities. https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/S-0059/S-0059%20As%20Introduced.pdf

Senate Committee on Government Operations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/26

On Tuesday the committee will take up   S. 106 – An act relating to the livestream of legislative proceedings of the General Assembly and lobbying regulations

S.106

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/S-0106/S-0106%20As%20Introduced.pdf

Senate Committee on Health and Welfare: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/27

On Thursday the committee will take up the All-Payer Accountable Care Organization Model and on Friday they will take up S. 91 – An act relating to Parent Child Center Network

S.91 https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/S-0091/S-0091%20As%20Introduced.pdf

Senate Committee on Institutions: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/28

All week committee will take up the Governor’s Capital Budget Proposal FY2022-2023 the rest of the week.

Senate Committee on Judiciary: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/29

On Tuesday the committee will take up H. 18 – An act relating to sexual exploitation of children, on Wednesday they will take up H.128 – An act relating to limiting criminal defenses based on victim identity and on Friday S. 99 – An act relating to repealing the statute of limitations for civil actions based on childhood physical abuse

Other bills in committee:

S.3 – An act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense and hear from the Director of Mental Health Law Project, Vermont Legal Aid and others

S.3 S.3: As recommended by the Senate Committee on Judiciary

S.25 An act relating to miscellaneous cannabis regulation procedures

S.25: As Recommended by the Senate Committee on Judiciary 

Senate Committee on Transportation: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/31

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***VCDR Bills of INTEREST***

Courtesy of Disability Rights Vermont

Attached – Also See www.VCDR.ORG

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***Articles of Interest***

***NEW*** House budget aims $650 million in federal funds at broadband, IT upgrades, clean water By Xander Landen Mar 22 2021

***NEW*** Senate advances more than $100 million in Covid-19 relief spending By Xander Landen Mar 19 2021                                                    https://vtdigger.org/2021/03/19/senate-advances-more-than-100-million-in-covid-19-relief-spending/

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’: Federal relief bill to direct $2.7 billion to Vermont – VTDigger: https://vtdigger.org/2021/03/10/once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-federal-relief-bill-to-direct-2-7-billion-to-vermont/ 

Crossover Bills Moving

Flavored tobacco ban, unemployment benefits, pot market meet legislative deadline By Xander Landen Mar 12  https://vtdigger.org/2021/03/12/flavored-tobacco-ban-unemployment-benefits-pot-market-meet-legislative-deadline/

Vt. lawmakers scramble to pass legislation ahead of ‘crossover day’https://www.wcax.com/app/2021/03/11/vt-lawmakers-scramble-to-pass-legislation-ahead-of-crossover-day/

Senate relief bill includes $1.25 billion for Vermont; Sanders bid for $15 wage fails By Xander Landen Mar 5 2021 https://vtdigger.org/2021/03/05/senate-relief-bill-includes-1-25-billion-for-vt-sanders-bid-for-15-wage-fails/

90 years after Vermont eugenics survey, lawmakers propose apology to those affected By Amanda Gokee Feb 21 2021 https://vtdigger.org/2021/02/21/90-years-after-vermont-eugenics-survey-lawmakers-propose-apology-to-those-affected/

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***LEGISLATIVE EVENTS***

Legislative Breakfasts and Public Events

Action Circles puts together a list of social media and remote-meeting events being held by legislators to communicate with their constituents. You can fund that here: https://www.action-circles.com/legislator-events/

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**Informational Links**

VT Department of Health – COVID -19:   https://www.healthvermont.gov/                                  

VT Digger State Coronavirus Updates: https://vtdigger.org/coronavirus/

COVID-19 Coronavirus: Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters https://vtlawhelp.org/coronavirus-updates

VT LEGAL AID SERVICES UPDATE: https://vtdigger.org/press_release/vermont-legal-aid-service-update/

Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living:                   https://dail.vermont.gov/novel-coronavirus-information

Department of Mental Health:  https://mentalhealth.vermont.gov/coronavirus-and-our-mental-health

Resources for Education Agency of Education Guidance to Schools: https://education.vermont.gov/news/covid-19-guidance-vermont-schools

Judiciary: https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/news/information-regarding-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-1

Department of Children and Families  – Child Care:                               https://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/covid-19

CHILD CARE STABILIZATION GRANTS:

https://dcf.vermont.gov/sites/dcf/files/CDD/Docs/COVID/COVID-Private-Tuition-Payments-Stabilization-Guidance.pdf

Department of Labor: https://labor.vermont.gov/

Department of Labor FAQs for Employers and Employees: https://labor.vermont.gov/covid19/covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

Specific Guidance for Employees: https://labor.vermont.gov/covid19/employees                                                      Employee Assistance (Unemployment Claims):  1-877-214-3332.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIM FORM https://vermont.force.com/DOLClaim/s/ 

Vermont Tax Department: https://tax.vermont.gov/coronavirus

Information on COVID-19: 

Vermont Department of Health: State agency providing updated information on matters of public health, including disease outbreaks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Federal agency with up-to-date information on health and security.

Office of Governor Phil Scott: Press releases from the governor’s office, including details on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19.

The University of Vermont Health Network: Provides updated information from the health network, including preventative measures and current cases.

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Submitted by Karen Lafayette, VCDR Coordinator [email protected]