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Legislative update: Week 4
In the fourth week of the legislative session, lawmakers have been taking testimony and started voting on several bills we’re following. Environmental initiatives remain front and center – and we continue to work to build support for enacting clean water funding, toxic chemical reforms, climate action, and healthy forests.
CLEAN WATER: #CleanWaterVT
This week, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee continued working on a bill that would create a Clean Water Authority to raise funds and distribute money for clean water projects. Last week,we stood alongside municipal, business, and environmental groups in support of improving and enacting this legislation. You can help build support for this concept bysigning the petition calling for action on clean water this year.
You’re also invited to join us on Thurs., Feb. 22nd for Vermont Clean Water Day 2018from 10AM to 4PM to celebreate our lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands, and call on our lawmakers to invest in cleaning up and protecting our waterways. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
There was a lot of talk about climate this week – and a lot that could happen this session – but not a lot of action just yet. On Tuesday, Governor Scott outlined his priorities for the 2018 in his budget address. On climate, he committed $300,000 for a wood stove change out program – moving from one renewable resource to another – and promised to commit less than 10 percent of VW settlement dollars to electrifying Vermont’s transportation system.Underwhelming is an understatement.
The House Commerce Committee heard testimony on the work of the Vermont Climate Action Commission – including its recommendation to study carbon pricing and the House Natural Resources Fish & Wildlife also took testimony on whether – and how – to study carbon pricing.
This week we joined parents, advocates, and concerned residents in Burlington to call on Governor Scott to stop delaying the disclosure of toxic chemicals in children’s products. The Scott Administration is changing current policy and making it more difficult for parents to know what toxic chemicals are in their children’s products. The proposed amendment to the Chemicals of High Concern in Children’s Products Rule would allow products to be on the market for up to two years before the Department of Health – and the public – is notified that the product contains toxic or cancer-causing chemicals. Read more here.
The Senate passed a bill (right-to-conduct forestry, S.101) that would help maintain working forests. The bill clarifies that lawful forestry is not a nuisance unless there is a negligent forestry operation, or a forestry activity that significantly interferes with the use or enjoyment of a person’s property. In addition to S.101, several committees in the Legislature are focused on other policies to promote working forests and the processing of forest products. We will continue to track these policies to ensure that they balance supporting working lands while also protecting landowner rights and our natural resources.
Our partners at Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) have long supported protection of working lands and land-based economies – through their support of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, current use, and the Working Lands Enterprise Board, among other initiatives. Because of this, they were involved for more than two years in conversations about how to promote diversified agriculture. This week Kate McCarthy, VNRC’s sustainable communities program director, expressed concern that H.66, currently before the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee, goes too far by creating a permitting shortcut for private events, such as weddings, that take place on farms. Read VNRC’s statement, shared by representatives from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, in the joint letter they submitted here.
Thank you, as always, for making your voice heard on these critical initiatives now and throughout the session. We’re at the State House nearly every day, but we can’t do this work without your support in local communities throughout Vermont!