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New Vermont laws take effect July 1 as state benefits from federal cash

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:45 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A flurry of bills passed by the Vermont Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott take effect on July 1. That’s because many of the bills are tied to money and taxes, and July 1 is the start of a new fiscal year for the state government.

As we hit the halfway mark in 2020, there are new laws and a new budget floated by half a billion dollars in federal relief cash.

“Whether it’s housing, water, sewer, broadband-- I think those are the highlights,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The exact details of those projects to come over the next few years.

There’s also a slew of new laws passed by the Legislature.

Feminine hygiene products-- pads, tampons and others-- are now tax-exempt in Vermont.

There is a strengthened and clarified legal definition of sexual consent. It defines situations where people can’t consent, including when someone is physically or mentally unable to, sleeping, or impaired by drugs or alcohol.

And there’s a new effort to stem sexual violence on Vermont campuses.

“The directives from the feds have changed drastically over the years and so we want to make sure students on campuses have the best access to safety that they possibly can,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Also accomplished-- prison reform. A new, nine-member monitoring commission to investigate inmate deaths and escapes was created. And there’s a ban on relationships between employees and anyone in DOC custody.

“We believe it’s important because of the power that we have over people,” Vermont Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said.

Pandemic pivot ideas become law, too. Takeout alcohol kept many bars alive during shutdowns, such as the Three Penny Taproom.

Although they’re now fully open, they say it’s one more option.

“Sandwich to go, go sit at the beach with a four-pack of beer, go fishing, grab food and beer to go. They’re all options at this point,” said Jay Bothwell, the general manager of the Three Penny Taproom.

There are also new consumer protections.

Vermont is also one step closer to banning toxic PFAS chemicals in several products. It’s found in firefighting foam, ski wax, some food packaging and carpets, to name a few. However, the actual restrictions are still a few years out.

The Legislature passed a number of other bills this session. Many of those will become law on Jan. 1, 2022.

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