Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 7

Our last bill is out of conference committee and is on the House Notice Calendar. That bill, S. 26, started life as a “son of sam” bill but now contains much, much more. It is now the home of H. 11, the disposition of property upon death bill that was H.203 in 2008! So, I expect the house will suspend the rules and bring the conference report up for immediate action sometime today. The house has to act first as it’s a senate bill. Then when the house adopts the report of the committee of conference, I expect it to message the bill to the senate, where I hope the same steps will be taken. All that will be left if the governor’s signature. Keep an eye on sections 4 and 5 of the bill; those are the chapters dealing with descent and Survivors’ Rights. Those sections take effect upon passage- meaning the day the governor signs the bill. BUT, section 5 will only apply to persons dying on or after that effective date. We’ll let you know when that date is.
On the budget front, legislators, as you know, are moving ahead without an agreement with the administration. A veto seems likely which will result in a special session in June to do this again. Of the justice items I have been following there is this news. First, the senate conferees have put on the table a $60K increase in funding to Vermont Legal Aid. This is the same amount that VLA lost in the second round of rescissions in December. It had previously lost $25K in August. When I left the conference committee meeting yesterday afternoon, the house had yet to agree to the senate’s proposal. I know the house conferees want to agree but I just can’t say if it happened. The committee did meet again last night but I was not in the building. I’ll try to find out this morning.
Second, the house conferees offered language essentially insulating the judiciary from any further administration rescission in FY 2010. The administration doesn’t like this of course. At the afternoon meeting, the senators responded by accepting the house proposal. This is tied to the judiciary’s promise of finding $1 million in savings in FY 2011. But it guarantees that the work of the Commission on Judicial Operation can continue its work without being undermined by steps taken before it can file its report.
More later; thanks for reading.

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