The Vermont legislature is now in session. The session runs from the beginning of January through April, and works on a biennium system. That means that bills that are introduced have two sessions, or two years, to pass — or not pass. Sometimes bills are resubmitted in the next biennium.
We are approaching “crossover,” meaning that bills that have passed one chamber now head to the other chamber to be considered. This happens each year after town meeting day. As we approach this important time in our legislative cycle, we’ll share with you some of the bills we’re concerned about.
Then, if any of these bills seem important to you, we ask that you contact your legislators to let them know that you want them to support, or not, the particular bill. You can go to the legislature’s web site to find your legislator, as well as their phone and email address. https://legislature.vermont.gov, or you can call the sargent-at-arms (802-828-2228) and ask her to give a message to the legislator from you. You’ll give her your name, the town you’re from, and the bill number. Also, the web site will give you the names and email addresses of people on the committees, and you can contact them as well.
Our legislators in this small state are our neighbors, many of them people we know. They absolutely want to hear from you. This is an easy step that can make a difference. And we’d love it if you let us know if you reached out.
Some examples of bills in House Judiciary Committee March 2023
An act relating to a harm-reduction criminal justice response to drug use, moving towards decriminalizing small amounts substances that currently hold jail time
Reduction of imposing cash bail
An act relating to juvenile delinquency and criminal proceedings involving children
Raising the age from 10 to 12 when considering delinquency status as well as looking at adverse childhood experiences and trauma as mitigating factors.
Some examples of bills in House Corrections and Institutions March 2023
Proposal to allow/educate probation and parole officers to carry firearms while on duty. (No!)
An act relating to prohibition on the transfer of Vermont inmates to an out-of-state correctional facility.
Advocates have for years been working toward ending Vermont’s contracts with out-of-state facilities, most of them private. Currently there are 124 Vermonters residing in a private prison in Mississippi. Vermont could easily free up space in Vermont facilities to accommodate these people.
Some examples of bills in Senate Judiciary March 2023
An act relating to appointing counsel to represent a person found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity
An act relating to increasing the penalties for subsequent offenses for trafficking and dispensing or sale of a regulated drug with death resulting.
This is an example of the legislature’s tendency to increase sentences at a time when we feel they should be reducing them. Vermont Just Justice opposes this bill.
to find your legislators or research bills, go to legislature.vermont.gov
Links for committee members, agendas, and bills:
House Corrections and Institutions