Vt. lawmakers rush to wrap up key issues - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers rush to wrap up key issues

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

It's been rewritten, postponed and the subject of debate on and off the floor for years. But Wednesday, the Vermont Senate bridged an evenly split divide over how to allow the terminally ill to end their own lives.

The Senate sought an open, short bill that did little other than protect doctors.

The House modeled its measure on Oregon's assisted-suicide law, requiring extensive oversight.

"The compromise for now brings together these two major considerations," said Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison County.

Wednesday's deal enacts the House model upon final passage, but automatically transitions to the looser, simpler Senate version after three years.

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Replacing criminal penalties for possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana with civil tickets roughly equivalent to a speeding ticket easily won Senate approval. The bill would not legalize driving while stoned, or growing and selling marijuana.

The House will need to sign off on a few small changes to the bill before it lands on the governor's desk for his signature.

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Representatives spent much of the day debating the rules governing how they run for office. Opponents on the right felt imposing limits on super PAC spending opens up the state to lawsuits, and is unnecessary.

Critics on the left say scrapping limits on how much parties can give to candidates, and across-the-board increases to donation limits run counter to earlier proposals.

"We have opened our doors to big money's influence and welcomed the damaging impact that comes with it," said Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington.

Politicians won't see any impact until the next election cycle in two years, but any work they don't get to this year, will receive fresh attention next January.

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