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A look at Vt. lawmakers' priorities - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A look at Vt. lawmakers' priorities

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

This week will play a significant role in determining what passes and what doesn't at the Vermont Statehouse this year.

Lawmakers returned to Montpelier Tuesday following last week's legislative break for Town Meeting Day. One of the busiest weeks of the two-year session lies ahead.

A proposed bill must make it to the other chamber by Friday in order to pass this year, unless it's sent to a money committee, in which case the deadline arrives a week later.

Exceptions can be made, and always are for state and road spending. With more than 1,000 bills proposed between this year and last, some will die without ever being seriously considered.

"We've gotten to the point now where we pretty much know what the rest of the session will look like, said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.

Campbell says in the Senate he wants to make sure a bill addressing opiate abuse, requested by the governor, is ready to move by Friday.

But, he doesn't want lawmakers to pass measures simply to keep them alive.

"I want them to do complete due diligence on all the bills. I don't want them to just throw something out and vote something out just to say they've voted on it," said Campbell. 

"There are a couple things I think we need to see move this week," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

In the House, Smith has his own set of priorities which include voting out a jobs bill and a measure setting the state property tax.

Both Campbell and Smith say next week may be the tougher bottleneck as money committee members are flooded with all the bills requiring their stamp of approval.

"We're working very closely with both the policy committee chairs and the money committee chairs to make sure that the flow works," said Smith.

Smith says a minimum wage bill will move forward but will likely need a deadline extension in order to pass this year.

Efforts to reform the structure of education governance and a proposal which would allow Burlington to institute gun reforms will also require exemptions if they are going to become law this year.

Lawmakers are planning on extending their hours this week to get all the necessary work done. Wednesday's forecast storm could require them to lengthen their days even more than initially planned.

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