2018-03-21 / Front Page

Message from Montpelier

By REP. TOM BOCK of Andover, Baltimore, Chester and North Springfield

We are now at the halfway point in our 2018 legislative session. All House members have been using the previous 2 weeks before our Town Meeting break, getting bills voted out of our committees – and on their way to the floor.

Some bills we have voted on & passed, while others are still being deliberated such as:

The House has passed H.237 that will allow police to test a driver’s saliva for marijuana. The test only determines the presence of THC and cannot be used as evidence in a court of law.

H.691 is a primary seat belt law that will allow police to stop and fine drivers who have failed to buckle up. Currently, in order to be charged for failure to buckle up, police must have stopped you for another reason.

H.410 expands on the protection of efficiency standards passed last year by adding 18 new products, including commercial and household appliances and electronics, which is estimated to increase household energy savings by $660 a year.

A Fish & Wildlife bill banning coyote-killing tournaments and contests passed the House.

My committee, Agriculture & Forestry, brought to the floor 2 bills on regenerative agriculture which focuses on rebuilding and improving the health of depleted soils, building the resilience of those soils against erosion, and thus improving water quality. The bills provide technical and financial assistance to Vermont farmers seeking to transition from conventional farming to regenerative organic farming.

House bill H.688 proposes restricting home use of neonicotinoids that potentially harm native pollinators, honeybees and aquatic insects. Further restrictions on agricultural and other uses by trained applicators are still open due to the fact that safer methods are not yet available. I am sure we will be visiting this important issue again in the future.

The approved bill H.422 would provide protection to victims of domestic assault in the most dangerous period in the cycle of domestic violence. It would allow police to temporarily remove guns from the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident. The temporary and brief removal of a firearm from the scene of domestic assault would allow the victim to provide for his or her safety, and perhaps give the perpetrator time to cool down. If the firearm is not evidence, or there is no court order requiring relinquishment, the firearm would be returned to the person from whom it was removed.

I will discuss the following, likely-to-be, dominant issues facing the Legislature in the 2nd half of the session as they come up before the House, in the coming weeks: Alternative plan to pay for Education, Guns and gun violence, Long term financing of the clean water initiative, and Minimum Wage

As always, I welcome any questions, opinions, thoughts, and concerns you may have on any legislative issue. You can contact me at HYPERLINK "mailto:tbock@leg.state.vt.us" tbock@leg.state.vt.us or HYPERLINK "mailto:tmbock@vermontel.net" tmbock@vermontel.net. I look forward to hearing from you.

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