By REP. LORI HOUGHTON

With the end of the session just a few weeks away, I will focus our attention on three bills working their way through committees to reach the floor for a vote.  I appreciate constituent feedback and can be reached at lhoughton@leg.state.vt.us.

S169 an act relating to firearms procedures, otherwise known as the waiting period bill, currently in House Judiciary would require a 24 hour waiting period on hand gun transfers after the completion of the background check.  It would not apply to hand gun transfers that do not require a background check. The bill also makes changes to various pieces of the 2018 gun legislation related to large capacity ammunition feeding devices, shooting competitions, reporting on extreme risk protection orders and allows for, does not require, healthcare provider notification options.

S23 an act relating to increasing the minimum wage passed out of House General and will now go through the money committees.  The bill would raise the minimum wage gradually until it reaches $15 in 2024.  Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase each year by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index.  Unfortunately, no language was added to raise the wages for Medicaid-funded health care workers.  Over the past two years we’ve worked on this issue in the health care committee increasing funding for mental health workers, but workers at home health agencies, nursing homes and others have not seen an increase in wages.  This is an issue we need to focus on in the near term.

S54 an act relating to the regulation of cannabis.  Although a vote in the committee has not yet occurred and language is not final, the committee has added language regarding a Substance Misuse Prevention Fund.  Thirty percent of the revenues raised by the cannabis excise tax, not to exceed $6 million per fiscal year, would go to the fund for prevention education.   No decisions, as of this writing, have been made to roadside testing requirements.

Other areas of importance from last week – the House Energy and Technology committee held a public hearing on proposed bills that would ban or limit new fossil-fuel infrastructure (H.51, H.175 and H.214)  The hearing was well attended and the committee will continue to work on this issue.

The House passed S.86 which will increase the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age.  Passed originally in the Senate the House concurred with their language except to change the effective date to September 1, 2019.  This was the third leg of our strategy to reduce youth tobacco usage.

Please reach out with questions and comments! Thank you for the privilege to serve Essex Junction.