Vt. lawmakers to consider constitutional amendment, toxic chemicals, rental registry

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 4:48 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A flurry of bills are moving through the Vermont Statehouse. A constitutional amendment, toxic chemicals and a rental registry are all ahead this week for lawmakers.

House lawmakers will deliberate largely in person while the Senate is still working remotely.

The House will vote on Prop 5 Tuesday, that’s the constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to an abortion. If approved, it goes before voters in the November election.

There’s also movement on the medical monitoring proposal which passed the Senate last week. This bill would require industrial polluters to cover the medical monitoring costs of people exposed to harmful chemicals. It stems from contamination of wells in Bennington from an old Teflon plant.

The governor vetoed two previous versions of the bill, citing concerns it could drive away businesses. We don’t know whether he will support this current version.

Lawmakers are also taking up a bill this week to create a statewide rental registry, a measure the governor vetoed last year. The Scott administration and lawmakers have been working since the summer to come up with a compromise but it’s getting complicated.

This bill would create a statewide registry and new positions in state government to oversee rental safety checks. But lawmakers are now attaching to it an effort to add another $20 million to Vermont’s housing improvement program, which has already brought 250 low-cost units online.

This has Scott administration officials concerned. They want the two items to remain separate, mainly because they want to spend that $20 million on building housing now rather than waiting for the rental registry bill to pass and take effect.

“Perhaps there can be a compromise here but the governor really stresses that if we want to continue to fix those in need and want to fix our housing, we need to be doing it right now,” said Josh Hanford, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Senate is slated to debate the rental registry bill Tuesday with the $20 million for the housing in it.

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