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Legislative Weekly, 2/26/19

Tuesday February 26th, 2019

Highlights from the past week at the Statehouse:

In the Education Committee:

  • S. 40 - An act relating to testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and child care facilities. We heard testimony from the Senate Education committee on the Senate’s version of a lead testing and remediation bill. The House had previously funded lead testing in the Budget Adjustment Act, but the Senate has added about $2M in funding for remediation in S. 40. Remediation costs would be covered at a 50% level by the state, with 50% funded locally. The testing would be run by the Department of Health, supplying equipment, training on testing methodology and then the associated lab work. Sampling would be completed by local school district staff under Department of Health guidance.

  • H. 295 - An act relating to increasing the term of office for the clerk and treasurer of a union school district and a unified union district. This bill would, very simply, increase the term of the clerk and treasurer of each Union or Unified School District from 1 year to 3 years. We have not heard testimony on this bill yet, but a similar bill passed the House last session without controversy. My guess is that our committee will pass this bill out quickly.

  • H. 140 - An act relating to the Advisory Council on Special Education. I will be reporting this bill on the House floor tomorrow, so that’s exciting on a personal level! H. 140 was voted out of our committee favorably 11-0.

  • Budget Letter - Each House committee will send a letter to the appropriations committee this week, emphasizing annual budget priorities that are pertinent to each committee’s specific jurisdiction. We have heard testimony from many organizations over the first two months of the session, and some of those groups have specific monetary requests. Two priorities for me are providing additional state support to:

1.) Outright Vermont, who have provided support, advocacy, and celebration of young queer people in Vermont for over 20 years.

2.) Vermont Farm to School Network, who provide leadership, coordination, and advocacy to advance new and existing farm to school efforts in Vermont classrooms, cafeterias, and communities

Beyond the Ed. Committee,

  • Budget Adjustment Act (BAA)/ Lead Testing - As alluded to in the first bullet point up above, lead testing and remediation has made it through the Senate Ed. committee in the form of S. 40. Funding for testing and remediation is in the Senate version of the BAA, whereas funding for testing only is included in the House version of the BAA. This discrepancy will need to be resolved before the Budget Adjustment Act can move forward, and there is an imperative for that to happen quickly. So… stay tuned! This is a slightly wonky issue, but one that I find very interesting.

Local and Upcoming

  • Town Meeting - I will be attending all four of our Town Meetings, two on Saturday the 2nd and the other two on Monday the 4th. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Contact info: celder@leg.state.vt.us    www.calebelder.com    802-622-4296