Tuesday, March 25, 2014
So, my last report was on February 28th, the day the general assembly began their one week Town Meeting break. Although I said I’d report again the week of the 18th, I did not do that. So, in my defense it was a short week- on Thursday and Friday I was at the VBA Mid Year Meeting. Because of the size of the calendars in both chambers right after the crossover deadline most of the week was spent in floor debate in order to move bills. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee made the decision to not schedule any witnesses other than members of the legislative council. That really helped people like me who need to be elsewhere.
This week started off with news that the House Appropriations Committee has released the FY 15 budget, which, does contain $50,000 for Vermont Legal Aid to continue to offer foreclosure defense services. You may remember that funding for that work came from mortgage foreclosure settlement funds the state received. Those funds run out on June 30th. it’s only about a fifth of what is being lost but at least it’s something and, given, this year’s budget challenges I’m sure VLA is happy to get it. Now the challenge is to hold it in the Senate. The budget and the tax bills should be up for floor debate Thursday and Friday of this week. That will no doubt preempt any house committee time later this week.
As I continued to write during the first two months of the session I followed bills mainly in the House Judiciary Committee. Well, now those bills are in the Senate Judiciary Committee where I will be camped out more than anywhere else for the remainder of the session. Actually, on Thursday the committee will take its first look at the guardianship of minors bill, H. 581. There has been some input into the bill sent to the committee by the Probate Bench-Bar committee of the Franklin Grand Isle Bar Association. Judge Davenport responded to those points by letter this morning. For those of you in the Family Section and the Probate and Trust Section, Amber Barber sent it to your list serve. If anyone else who has not received it wants a copy, just email me and I’ll forward it to you. the committee has set aside all Thursday morning to work on the bill.
There are a couple of other things in the works. We have been asked to comment on sections of the economic development bill (H 736) in House Commerce that deal with computer crimes. We’ve also asked to be heard on H. 497, a bill dealing with open meetings. That bill passed the House and is in Senate Government Operations. It has some language of interest to the members of the Municipal Law Section about legal advice to public bodies and when an executive session is permissible. We don’t have a schedule for that bill yet but we’ve asked to be on the witness list.
That pretty much brings you up to date. I’m waiting to hear more detail about how the budget writers treated the Judiciary and the Office of the Defender General. I may add to this post if I hear or will report later this week. As always, thanks for reading.