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Session nears end

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Exactly two weeks remain before the scheduled end of the legislative session.

Leaders are determining what to focus on, and what can wait until next year.

The Vermont State House is expected to be almost completely empty after Saturday May 10th. That's the date selected by leaders of the House and Senate for the two-year session's final day of work.

"I think we're in a place where we can resolve the differences between the House and the Senate, on must pass bills, relatively quickly," said House Speaker Shap Smith.

Smith says the two chambers are closer than usual on money bills, though he's not a fan of some of the proposed changes under consideration in the Senate, allowing more time than normal to be spent on other issues.

His top remaining priorities for passage: an economic development and jobs bill, getting opiate offenders into treatment faster, and a school district consolidation bill.

"At this point in time I'm not putting anything on the table as having to wait until next year," Smith said.

"We've narrowed down our focus on several bills," said Senate Pro Tem John Campbell.

With money bills still under debate in the Senate, Campbell isn't as convinced that everything is still on the table.

The education governance measure remains in the House and would need a rapid turnaround in the Senate to become law this year.

"It would be an extremely heavy lift and I'm more concerned about trying to find ways that we are going to be able to save on the property tax side, " Campbell said.

The Senate is also poised to pass a minimum wage bill setting the stage for a compromise plan similar to that touted by the Governor and President. Measures that aren't signed into law this year will be back in January.

The same can't be said for lawmakers who will need to prevail in November elections to reclaim their place in the State House.

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