In the House Judiciary Committee, I am continuing to work on:
• S.37, which addresses medical monitoring for exposure to toxic substances.
• S.169, relating to a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases and elimination of the sunset for shooting competitions, is still under consideration. I am hoping to concur with the bill as it passed the Senate.
In the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee:
• Burn pit registry: S.111 seeks to encourage Vermont’s 10,000 veterans who were deployed in various theaters of operations since 1990 to sign up on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Pit Registry.
Those stationed were exposed to toxic waste when garbage of all kinds was burned in football field-sized open-air pits. Many rare forms of cancers and respiratory issues are now manifesting in those who served.
The burn pit registry is hopefully the first step for further analysis of whether these illnesses are associative or causative due the exposure to airborne hazards.
• Responding to teachers: S.41 is an act that creates a licensure for third-party administrators of health reimbursement accounts, health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts. These accounts hold money from an employer, employee, or a combination of the two, to be used for the employee’s health-care-related expenses.
This bill is a response to the issues that many school employees had during 2018, when they did not receive the reimbursement they were supposed to due to inadequate administration of health reimbursement accounts. As a result of this bill, Department of Financial Regulation would be able to intervene in instances of mismanagement.
PR.5 is a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure rights to personal reproductive freedoms. The Senate passed PR.5 28-2. House Human Services Committee reviewed the amendment and on Friday, April 25, recommended it 8-3. Below are key points about PR.5.
• PR.5 would amend the Vermont Constitution to affirm that every Vermonter should be afforded personal reproductive liberty.
• Why a constitutional amendment? The Vermont Constitution is a declaration of the rights and liberties of its citizens. A constitutional amendment would enshrine this freedom.
• Why is it important to amend the Vermont Constitution to include reproductive liberty? Reproductive liberty is a civil rights issue. The proposed amendment upholds the will of Vermonters that an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine their own life’s course.
Women’s rights are at risk. The U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade as soon as this year, which would block millions of people from the health care they need. If Roe is overturned, one in three women of reproductive age could live in states where abortion is not only overturned, but also criminalized.
Nationally, abortion rights are under attack. The Trump administration has issued global and domestic gag rules blocking funding to abortion providers. And at the state level, over 400 abortion restrictions have gone into effect since 2011.
At this time of uncertainty, the Vermont Legislature is working to protect citizens’ civil rights by initiating a process to amend the Vermont Constitution to ensure that reproductive freedom remains a fundamental right of Vermonters.
• When will PR.5 take effect?
The process to pass a Vermont constitutional amendment has multiple provisions to ensure that it reflects the will of the people. The amendment must pass both the Senate and House chambers in two consecutive legislatures, followed by a vote in a public referendum in a general election.
The soonest PR.5 could take effect is Election Day 2022.
Banning plastic bags
I have heard from a number of you, asking me to support S.113. Please note that the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife has been taking testimony on S.113 and is continuing to work on it.
Please stay in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-2231.
Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, also represents Duxbury and the Mad River Valley in the Vermont House of Representatives. Email letters to email@example.com.