2011 Vt. Legislature adjourns - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

2011 Vt. Legislature adjourns

Montpelier, Vermont - May 6, 2011

The Governor was all smiles as he made his way into the House Chamber, his first session as Governor was complete. His signature piece of legislation, health care reform, just needs his signature to become law. The legislation charts a course where Vermont will have a single payer health care system.

"You have set the foundation to implement the first health care bill in the country that is going to treat health care as a right and not a privilege," said Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin.

One of their final acts, passing a DWI bill that imposes stiffer penalties for repeat drunk drivers. It was years in the making stemming from a Franklin County death, and when a Burlington woman was killed this year allegedly by a repeat drunk driver, lawmakers acted.

"It is clear we would not be here without the passion and commitment of family and friends of Nick Fournier and Kay Borneman who were tragically taken on our highways in Vermont," said Rep. Bill Lippert, a Democrat from Hinesburg.

For the most part it was a smooth session, there was a new Governor and Lt. Governor and several new Senators, but all the legislation was driven by the Democratic Party who controlled the agenda. It played a role in the session ending one week early. Republicans could only watch and try to influence the final product.

"It's amazing anything can be accomplished but however at the end of the session, it is impressive to look back for the most part maintain a level of professionalism and respect for one another no matter how tough a day it is," said Rep. Don Turner, a Republican from Milton.

Leaders say they did balance the budget without raising the sales or income taxes, but they did raise the cigarette tax by 38 cents per pack to try to fill holes in a budget that was facing a $174 million shortfall, a recipe that also limited lawmakers from creating expensive new programs this session.

Anson Tebbetts - WCAX-TV

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