Leonine: State House gun show

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Leonine: State House gun show

Sun, 02/25/2018 - 12:59pm -- tim

Leonine Public Affairs This week saw a dramatic uptick in political momentum around the regulation of firearms. This was a direct reaction to the Florida school shooting tragedy and a near brush with a similar incident occurring closer to home in Fair Haven, Vermont. Against the backdrop of hundreds of Vermont high school students filling the State House to voice their demand for increased protections against firearms, Governor Scott changed his position on gun control and voiced a willingness to consider a variety of regulations. Similarly, Democratic Attorney General TJ Donovan, the legislature's Democratic leadership and Democratic/Progressive Lt. Governor David Zuckerman held a joint press conference and urged the passage of a bill requiring universal background checks that was introduced in 2017 but has yet to move. All of this set the stage for likely action in the Senate this coming week.

While the discussion around the regulation of firearms was by far the top political story of the week, the House pressed on with moving a variety of bills over to the Senate. Those bills include H.571, which merges the the Departments of Liquor and Lottery, H.576 which deals with the regulation of stormwater and H.828 which changes campaign finance disclosures relating to communications via social media.  

One bill that was the subject of extensive and heated debate on the House floor was the “coyote bill,” H.636, which bans coyote killing contests. The bill was amended on a 74-65 roll call vote (notable for how close it was) which reduced the penalties for holding such a contest. The bill then passed by a 95-44 margin. 


EDUCATION FINANCE
On Friday members of the House Ways and Means and House Education Committees held a joint hearing to review a document prepared by the Joint Fiscal Office that summarizes the education finance model proposed by some legislators. Under the proposal, the homestead property tax rate would be cut by roughly 50 percent and the income sensitivity program would be eliminated. A new school income tax would be levied on personal, business and investment income. The conversation about how to finance education spending is shaping up to be one of the more controversial issues of the 2018 legislative session.

VERMONT RIGHT TO REPAIR ACT
The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs has been discussing S.180, which would enact the Vermont Fair Repair Act. The bill proposes to make information, schematics, diagnostics, and repair manuals from manufacturers of “equipment” such as appliances and cell phones more accessible to independent repair providers and owners of the equipment. The committee is currently considering Draft 1.1 of a strike-all, which establishes the Right to Repair Study Commission, which would review and consider issues relating to the right to repair consumer products, including the scope of products to include, the economic costs and benefits, effects on the consumer product supply chain, consequences for intellectual property and trade secrets, environmental and economic costs of a “throw-away” economy and legal issues and litigation risk. 

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE
The House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee continued work this week on H.560, a bill to regulate the disposal of household hazardous waste. The latest version of the bill, which was released this week, requires manufacturers of products “containing hazardous substances” to participate in end-of-life disposal programs. These products are defined as substances contained within a receptacle that meet the criteria for:
  • “Characteristic waste” under the federal Conservation and Recovery Act; 
  • A class 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 hazardous material under the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act;
  • A marine pollutant;
  • Hazardous waste as defined in current state law.

The latest version of H.560 also exempts products that are already covered by existing end-of-life disposal programs such as batteries and products that contain mercury. The bill establishes the criteria for how the disposal programs are to be structured and requires reporting to the Agency of Natural Resources. Manufacturers would be responsible for the cost of running the disposal programs. The House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee is scheduled to vote on H.560 by the end of next week. 


GREENHOUSE GAS STUDY
The House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife approved H.763, which directs the Joint Fiscal Office to conduct a study to analyze the costs and benefits for Vermont of adopting and implementing regional and Vermont-only approaches to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by Vermont’s consumption of fossil fuels. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations as it calls for $100,000 in funding for JFO to conduct the study.

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Source: Leonine Public Affairs, Montpelier, Week 8. 2.23.2018. leoninepublicaffairs.com. Through a special arrangement with Leonine, Vermont Business Magazine republishes Leonine's weekly legislative report on vermontbiz.com.  leoninepublicaffairs.com (link is external)