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

House To Vote On End-Of-Life Bill; Senate Tackles Taxes, Marijuana

AP/Toby Talbot

It promises to be another busy week at the Statehouse. As the House and Senate burn down the clock on the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers will spend a lot of time on the floor debating spending and policy priorities.

The end-of-life choices bill is back on the calendar this week as the House Judiciary Committee considers a number of amendments.

This is the bill that would allow terminally ill people to end their lives by requesting lethal doses of medication from physicians. Supporters hope the House can restore key safeguards that were removed in the Senate version. They also want the bill to require a patient to have an advanced directive detailing how they should be treated if they're incapacitated, and be enrolled in a hospice program.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the bill, which supporters call "death with dignity" and detractors call ‘physician assisted suicide.’ The House could debate on the legislation as early as Tuesday.

The House will also finally take up a bill that would extend access to publicly funded pre-kindergarten education. At issue here is whether the state can afford it. Some opponents worry the measure could also permit religious schools to get public money. It’s unclear whether supporters have the votes because the floor debate has been pushed back for a week.

Legislative committees continue to work on issues that lawmakers made priorities this year – decriminalizing marijuana possession, taxes and drivers’ IDs for migrant workers. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on the House bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Transportation Committee is set to vote at the end of the week on a bill that would authorize drivers’ authorization cards for immigrants who are in this country illegally. Chairman Patrick Brennan says it’s likely to pass.

The Senate will take up a big tax package that is coming out of the Finance Committee early this week. There are two big issues here: the committee wants to cap how much mortgage interest someone can deduct from their state income taxes. The plan is to limit that amount at $12,000. The second major proposal would impose a minimum 3 percent tax for anyone who makes more than $25,000.

Any action on the House and Senate floor you can listen to on VPR’s legislative streams.

Kirk is a reporter for the NPR member station in Boston, WGBH, where he covers higher education, connecting the dots between post-secondary education and the economy, national security, jobs and global competitiveness. Kirk has been a reporter with Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis.; a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkCarapezza.
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