Our friends at the Ethan Allen Institute recently released their roll calls for the 2019 session. The Institute bases its educational profile on “issues of the greatest public interest” that wield “significant potential impact on the lives of Vermonters, and appeal to EAI’s focus on individual liberty, limited government and the founding principles of our great nation.”
There isn’t a better compilation, that we know of, to illustrate how you are being represented in Montpelier. We will re-publish the EAI roll call throughout the upcoming week, beginning with the Senate.
Your State Senators are Joe Benning, R — Caledonia; Jane Kitchel, D — Caledonia; Bob Starr, D — Essex-Orleans; John Rodgers, D — Essex-Orleans.
Mandatory Paid Family Leave/Payroll Tax (H.107)
Passed 19-10 on May 15, 2019. This would put in place a government-mandated Paid Family Leave program paid for with a new payroll tax on income up to $132,900. The program would allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, or 6 weeks for family care. Qualified employees would receive 90% of their first $7.29/hour and 55% of their wages between $7.30-$24.10/hour. Wages above $24.10/hour ($73,580/year) would not be covered. A maximum cap on the benefit would be set at $964 per week. The payroll tax would be initially set at 0.20% (employees and employers each paying half), and the estimated total cost would be $30 million annually. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — NO; STARR — ABSENT; RODGERS — NO.
Impose a Mandatory $15 Minimum Wage (S.23)
Passed 19-8 on February 22, 2019. This would increase the state minimum wage to $13.10 in 2022, $14.05 in 2023, and to $15 in 2024 — nearly a 40% total increase, and more than double neighboring New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — NO; RODGERS — NO.
Expand the “Pay to Move” Program (S.162)
Passed 27-2 on April 12, 2019. This would expand a current worker relocation program which reimburses the moving expenses ($10,000 total maximum) for out-of-state workers who move to Vermont and telecommute to jobs out-of-state. It would now include workers who take a full-time job with a Vermont based employer. The maximum reimbursement to this new category of beneficiary would be $7500. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — YES; RODGERS — YES.
Ban Plastic Bags, Styrofoam Food Containers, Straws, Etc. (S.113)
Passed 30-0 on April 3, 2019. This would prohibit stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. It would require that retailers charge at least 10¢ for single-use paper bags. “Polystyrene foam” coffee cups, plastic straws (unless requested), and food containers would be forbidden. Finally, it would create a “Single-Use Products Working Group” to study the effectiveness of these policies and make recommendations for future regulation. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — YES; RODGERS — YES.
Require Registration/Certification for Housing Contractors (S.163)
Passed 19-11 on April 3, 2019. It would require residential contractors to register with the state and purchase insurance, while encouraging contractors to become state-certified, on a voluntary basis. It would also further regulate maintenance standards for rental housing. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — NO; STARR — NO; RODGERS — NO.
Block Insurance Innovation Economic Development Program (S.131, Baruth Amendment)
Failed 7-22 on April 3, 2019. In order to spur economic growth and innovation in the insurance market, Section 1 of S.131 would create an “insurance sandbox” through which Vermont insurance providers (not including health insurance) can petition the commissioner for the freedom to sell a new insurance product to up to 10,000 consumers, exempt from some regulations, for a maximum of two years. The Baruth Amendment sought to remove that section of the bill, thus eliminating the innovation incentive. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — NO; STARR — NO; RODGERS — NO.
Allow Commercialized Retail Marijuana Sales/Taxation (S.54)
Passed 23-5 on February 28, 2019. This would create a regulatory system for the production, sale, and taxation of recreational marijuana products in Vermont. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — ABSENT; RODGERS — YES.
Impose 24 Hour Waiting Period for Handgun Purchase (S.169)
Passed 20-10 on March 21, 2019. Gun purchasers passing a background check would need to wait 24 hours before taking possession of their gun. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — NO; RODGERS — NO.
Oppose F-35 Jets in VT (S.R. 5)
Passed 22-7 on April 24, 2019. This resolution calls for the state to formally request that no “nuclear weapons delivery system” (i.e. the F-35 fighter jet) be based in Vermont. If acted upon, this would effectively eliminate the mission of the Vermont National Guard, which employs 3600 people and contributes $100 million to the Vermont economy. BENNING – NO; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — NO; RODGERS — NO.
Elevate the murder a firefighter or emergency medical provider to “aggravated murder” (H.321)
Passed 20-8 on April 18, 2019. In current law, the killing of a correctional officer or law enforcement officer while the victim was performing his or her official duties is classified as “aggravated murder” (first or second degree murder). This bill would elevate the murder of firefighters and emergency medical providers that level as well. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — YES; RODGERS — YES.
Advance Constitutional Amendment to Remove References to Slavery (Proposition 2)
Passed 28-1 on April 24, 2019. This amendment would revise the State Constitution to eliminate references to slavery but does not actually change any policy as the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery in 1865. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — YES; RODGERS — YES.
Advance a Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing Abortion from Conception to Birth (Proposition 5)
Passed 28-2 on April 4, 2019. This would amend the Vermont Constitution to say that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” It would effectively bar any potential legal restrictions on abortion from conception to the moment of birth. BENNING – YES; KITCHEL — YES; STARR — YES; RODGERS — YES.