REP. BETSY DUNN
The Vermont Legislature is experiencing something rare — a special session, of which only 26 have been held. Generally, they are responses to special circumstances: economic downturns or other fiscal problems, Federal changes affecting the state, disasters and war. Six have dealt with budget issues, and, we do have issues.
Democrats have been fiscally responsible. Yet, H.924, the first budget, had items the governor opposed, and he vetoed it. We removed those and created H.13. It is a responsible budget that makes critical investments for the state. It will reduce Vermont taxpayers’ income tax by $30 million to offset the impacts of the federal tax changes. This includes changes to the taxation of social security benefits. It avoids a government shutdown. State employees will be paid and services and benefits will still be available to our citizens. State parks will remain open. And Vermont will not lose its bond rating, which is a critical aspect of the bill passing.
We refuse to use the budget as a negotiating tool. Once the budget is passed, we can focus all of our energy on how to fund education and the state and how to appropriate the funds available in the most responsible way.
While all this drama is going on, we have passed several bills that had made it out of conference last session, but not onto the floor for a vote, including a bill from my committee. Of note, during the session we had four bills concerning co-pays for physical therapy and chiropractors. S.1 concerns these co-payments. In particular, it involves the Bronze and Silver plans on the health exchange as well as the reflective Silver plans for FY19. In FY19, chiropractors will have a co-payment equal to that of primary care physicians. The next year, both chiropractors and physical therapists will have a co-payment between 125-150 percent of the rate for primary care doctors. In other words, we are creating a mid-tier for co-pays, somewhere between primary care and specialists’ co-pays.
Other bills passed: combining the Liquor and Lottery departments, creation of a committee to protect students from sexual exploitation, fair repair of consumer electronics, regulation of finance leases for credit card terminals, and the Uber bill.
Sadly, this will be my final legislative report. I have a sister who has significant medical needs, and I need to be there for her. Therefore, I’m not running again for re-election. I want to thank the residents of Essex for giving me this opportunity. It has been one of the most stimulating experiences of my life. I will cherish it forever.