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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Legislative Update: The State Budget, Teacher Health Care And Pot Legalization

The golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse with a blue sky background.
Angela Evancie
VPR file
There have been a few twists toward the end of this legislative session. VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld provided an update for "Vermont Edition."

Vermont lawmakers are hoping to end the legislative session by the end of this week, but there are some big issues still being debated.

Here is where a few of those issues stands as the time ticks down on the session:

Teacher health care plan

  • On April 25, Gov. Phil Scott announced a planto create a statewide contract for teachers' health care, saying it would save $26 million that can be put to other uses.
  • On the morning of May 3, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe announced that the House and Senate reached an agreement: their compromise would preserve collective bargaining for teachers and would not implement a statewide teachers' contract, but would still achieve those $26 million in savings.
  • The governor maintains that the statewide contract is what makes those savings possible.

The state budget

Marijuana legalization

  • Late on Tuesday, May 2, the House passed H.170 which would allow for possession of 1 ounce of marijuana and the growing of two plants for personal use.
  • However, this bill does not create a tax-and-regulate model, which the Senate previously passed.
  • It remains to be seen if the House and Senate can agree on a legalization plan to send to the governor before the end of the session.
  • More from VPR's Bob Kinzel: Is A Compromise On Marijuana Legalization Brewing In Montpelier?

Anything else?

  • It's really the budget and tax bills that have to get passed before adjournment, which lawmakers hope will be Saturday, May 6.
  • Other issues that some lawmakers would like to try and finish before the end of the session include  an affordable housing bond and an economic development bill.
  • Unfinished work can be resumed in January 2018, in the second half of the biennium

For more legislative session coverage:

Listen to the conversation above. Broadcast on Vermont Edition on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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