Gavel Falls On Legislative Session
At a little after 10:20 Tuesday night, House Speaker Shap Smith brought the gavel down on the 2013 Legislative session.
It was a session that was dominated by money issues. The budget was tight and lawmakers rejected Governor Peter Shumlin’s plan to increase spending on child care services by taking money from the state’s earned income tax credit program.
A final budget agreement between the Governor and Legislative leaders rejected any new tax revenue and instead reduced the budget by roughly $10 million. The Governor said this decision would help the state economy continue to grow in the coming months.
“The opportunity this session was keeping our focus on the kitchen table issues facing Vermonters after a painful recession,” said Shumlin. “I’m proud that we met this challenge and continued our work to grow jobs and to grow prosperity.”
House Speaker Shap Smith says lawmakers met many of the fiscal challenges facing the state this year.
“We came into this session with great uncertainty. I believe that we leave this session with much hope and cautious optimism.”
One of the biggest issues of the session was the end of life bill. Lawmakers adopted a final compromise that puts a detailed process in the place to allow a terminally ill patient to obtain life ending drugs from their doctor.
But this approach will be in effect for only the next three years and starting in 2016 a more streamlined process will be used for another three year period.
Lawmakers also approved several other key bills including; a hike in the gas tax by 6 cents a gallon in each of the next two years, a proposal that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and a plan that allows migrant farm workers who are in the country illegally to apply for a driver’s privilege card.
Several issues did not receive approval including a campaign finance bill, a plan to allow the unionization of child care workers and a moratorium on future industrial wind projects.