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Vt. lawmakers meet in committees to decide on bills before adjou - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers meet in committees to decide on bills before adjournment

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

With just a few days left before the scheduled adjournment for the Vt. Legislature, the real work occurs over lunch behind closed doors and in conference committees.

That process places three members from each body across the table from each other as they search for common ground on bills that approach the same topic in different ways.

"I think what we would like to suggest is that we not raise more than the Senate raised," said Sen. Tim Ashe, P/D Chittenden County.

One committee is in day two of negotiations to set tax policy.

The primary issue, property taxes, only landed on the table Wednesday along with the renter rebate and a business credit for research and development.

"We'll talk about the rate issues -- soon I hope -- we don't really have a lot of time," said Rep. Janet Ancel, D- Calais.

That bill is a must-pass, but a measure containing provisions setting a deadline for Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, to turn over a financing plan for single-payer is not.

The House's plan threatens to pull funding if the deadline is missed while the Senate's does not. Representatives also want pharmaceutical providers to disclose just how much money they make in the state. Senators are not fans of this nor are the lobbyists from major companies like CVS.

While that bill appears stalled, regulating driving habits received a green light.

"I do think this bill is about saving lives and the safety on our highways," said Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown.

As part of a bill dealing with a range of issues, the committee supported a ban on hand-held electronic use behind the wheel.

The agreement also won over a skeptical Shumlin who says he's willing to sign the measure because it would not assess points on offenders.

The ban would become effective in October with an educational campaign rolled out a couple of months earlier.

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