The fate of a bill allowing terminal Vermonters to end their own lives may come down to one or two swing votes.
The measure is set to be taken up and passed in the House; if the Senate doesn't accept the amended version though, the two bodies are unlikely to reach compromise.
"Some thought, I don't know fully what to do with it yet," says Sen. Bob Hartwell (D-Bennington County).
In February, Sen. Bob Hartwell proved to be one of the key votes in significantly rewriting a proposal based on Oregon's assisted suicide law.
He and a slim majority of his colleagues voted to protect doctors should patients choose to overdose, but remove multiple patient oversight provisions they found too bureaucratic.
"There were substantial problems from a judiciary point of view with the language that came from the Senate," says Rep. Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg).
After the bill passed the Senate, the house human services committee restored much of the stripped language.
Bill Lippert, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says his committee won't alter the bill based on political palatability.
"My primary responsibility as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee is to have a bill that is carefully crafted and responsive and responsible," he says.
Lippert says his committee is divided on the bill morally, but unanimously agreed to ensure language in the bill does not provide legal cover for those with ill intent -- or criminalize any current medical practices.
The full House is expected to vote yes on the measure.
Sixteen votes in the Senate will determine if it goes to the Governor for his signature or lands in conference committee.
"The fact that I've sometimes been referred to as the sixteenth vote puts some additional pressure on this but in the end I'm going to do what I think is morally the thing I have to do," Hartwell says.
Hartwell says at this point he doesn't think his position will change.
If that is the case, differing views between the two bodies is likely to leave the bill in legal limbo.
Senate leadership does not support the end-of-life bill, but made exceptions to typical rules in order to give the matter a full hearing in the body this year.
If the measure does not ultimately pass, it's unclear if proponents will get another chance at the bill next year.
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:52:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:04:45 GMT
Darn Tough appears to be making a darn good profit. The high-end sock manufacturer out of Northfield reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with revenues up almost 80 percent over theMore >>
Vermont sock manufacturer Darn Tough reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever.More >>