Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday January 26, 2016

By now those of you in the Probate and Trust, Family Law, Municipal Law and the Worker’s Comp Sections are well aware of the Supreme Court’s proposal to “lighten the load”. The draft, dated April 2015, makes many procedural changes, especially to review of initial decisions, and was widely panned by Section members. I’ve collected all those responses and will be delivering them, without attribution to the House Judiciary Committee when it begins to consider this issue a week from Thursday.
But that’s only the beginning; there will be other hearings. Many of those Section members have offered to testify, mostly in opposition to the proposals. I’ve reached out to VTAJ who worked with us last April to stop a change in the workers’ comp are; that proposal is back again. No, I can’t explain why. BTW, if you’re not a member of any of those Sections but do practice in those areas and want to learn more, you can do two things. First, join the Section on the VBA website and second, email me and ask for a copy of the proposals. Since it is not yet a bill I can only forward you the draft that I have in email format.
You should also know the VBA is working on the call center fiasco and will do whatever it takes to see that you are not forced to waste your time using that method of communication with court staff. Once again I’ve asked for the help of the trial bar through VTAJ and hopefully together our message will be heard.
Sorry that this update is so quick and so short; more as I know more.

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This is my first post of the adjourned session even though we at the start of week three. There has been a lot of news coming out of Montpelier relating to the suspension of a sitting senator, marijuana legalization, and re-evaluating Act 46 to raise or remove the spending cap. Just this morning the House was set to debate the raising of the cap but the bill was pulled back into the Education Committee after the Agency revealed it provided school districts with erroneous per pupil spending amounts. This isn't the first time something like this has happened. You may recall from last fall the issue with underestimating the impact of the medicare spending increases.

With all the focus on education spending and recreational marijuana a lot of the things I am following have taken a back seat. For example, I'll direct your attention to H. 206, a bill dealing with notaries public. Here's a link to the bill:

I have been working on an exemption for members of the bar and have discussed that both with the Office of the Secretary of State as well as the Chair of  the House Committee on Government Operations.I think we can accommodate those who feel the bill is necessary (and it does make some good improvements to an otherwise unregulated system) while not burdening you with requirements that seem to apply to other groups. More on this as it moves along.

Senator Peg Flory introduced S. 193, a bill that modernizes and restructures our law regarding decedents' estates. This bill is the product of an effort by your Probate and Trust Section led by Chair Bob Pratt. It's a lengthy bill as you can imagine and it will not get any attention this year. I see it as priority for us for the 2017 session. You can read it here;


The Senate and House Natural Resources Committees are both working on S. 123, an act relating to standardizing procedures for permits issued by the DEC and to make appeals from those decision son the record. The bill is "being written on the fly"; by that I mean the department is taking comments and working with interested parties to draft a good compromise. Again, I'll keep you posted. Those of you in the Environmental Law Section following the list serve discussion are already familiar with this one.

The judicial retention process is about to begin for four judges this year. Here is the tentative schedule:

Wed. 1/27 Organizational meeting; Committee meets to set hearing schedule
5:00 p.m., Room 10 and discuss preliminary matters

Wed. 2/3 First Comm. meetings with Judges 5:00 p.m., Room 10
   Hon. Thomas Durkin
   Hon. David Howard
   Hon. Robert Mello
   Hon. Helen Toor

Thurs. 2/11 Public hearing 7:00 p.m., Room 11

Wed. 2/17 Follow-up Comm. meetings with Judges 5:00 p.m., Room 10

Wed. 2/24 Comm. Meeting to deliberate, vote and make reporting 5:00 p.m., Room 10 assignments

Thurs. 3/17 Joint Assembly (if Comm. is not ready, postpone by Joint
10:30 a.m. Resolution until 3/24)

Finally, the VBA Board is continuing to work on issues relating to the call center in Burlington. Many of you have weighed in with your views on how it's working, or not working. Please, if you haven't yet commented and have something to say on this please share it with me.

Thanks for reading.