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2013 Vt. legislative session in the books - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

2013 Vt. legislative session in the books

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Senate called it a wrap. President Pro Tem Senator John Campbell touted the body's efforts to work across party lines to reach compromise.

"Vermonters have won here. Because of the hard work we've done," he said. "We did it collegially, we did it together, we did it the Vermont way and this I hope -- someone in Washington will watch."

Among the bills that made their way to the governor's desk, Campbell praised the battles fought to strike balance on the decriminalization of marijuana, aid in dying, and driver's licenses for migrant workers. Gov. Peter Shumlin says he is proud to sign those bills in to law.

"This session has reaffirmed the work of Vermont's brand of democracy," said Shumlin, D-Vermont. "We work together across party lines to improve the lives of all Vermonters."

The governor also thanked lawmakers for supporting his education initiatives like free lunch for low income Vermont students and dual enrollment.

And just before 10:30 p.m., after 17 weeks of debate, deals, and negotiations, the House of Representatives adjourned.

"We came into this session with great uncertainty," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker. "I believe that we leave this session with much hope and cautious optimism."

The House worked late into Tuesday night, eventually passing a $1.4 billion budget, and enacting more than 40 miscellaneous taxes. Republicans pointed to balancing the budget and limited tax increases to gas and diesel taxes as their highlights of the 17-week session.

"It is very impressive to stand here and see how we were able to maintain a level of respect for this process and for one another through some of these very tough debates," said Republican Minority Leader Rep. Donald Turner.

Governor Shumlin thanked House members for keeping their focus on "kitchen table" issues Vermonters are facing in the wake of an economic recession.

"I am proud and grateful for your services and your accomplishments this session," he said. "I pledge that my administration will implement your good work to keep Vermont strong."

Lawmakers did fail to reach consensus in some areas, like campaign finance reform, but those in support vowed to take up that measure once more when the next session starts in January 2014.

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