FOVLAP’s Legislative Committee is watching what’s going on in the Vermont Legislature this year and keeping members informed through FOVLAP’s email discussion group. As of mid-March, a total of 1,080 bills have been introduced into the Legislature since the biennium began in January of 2009; 483 bills have been introduced since January 2010. Twenty-two bills may be of particular interest to FOVLAP members, namely H.015, H.117, H.128, H.323, H.324, H.345, H.410, H.412, H.447, H.462, H.463, H.477, H.488, H.509, H.536, H.763, S.061, S.091, S.156, S.214, S.235, and S.236. The text of these bills can be found via the Legislature’s bill tracking system: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/database/rintro/rintro.cfm?Session=2010.
Last session H.015 was passed into law, establishing an aquatic invasive species rapid response program within the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), expanding the state’s aquatic nuisance species transport prohibition, and enabling permits for the chemical control of aquatic nuisances to be valid for five years, among other provisions. Of disappointment to FOVLAP, the final bill did not include increased funding for aquatic nuisance control programs in Vermont, but instead required ANR to submit a report to the Legislature in January 2010 with recommended aquatic nuisance control funding mechanisms. That report, which discusses several potential mechanisms for increasing funding for aquatic nuisance control programs in Vermont, can be viewed at: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/reports/2010ExternalReports/252250.pdf. Unfortunately, the Legislature has not acted on any of the recommendations this year.
To-date, three other bills of interest have been passed into law during this biennium. H.447, which incorporated provisions of H.324, amends the statutory requirements for wetlands regulation in Vermont. H.477 reauthorizes the Lake Champlain reciprocal (with NY) fishing license. S.091 strengthens the ability of law enforcement to enforce boating laws, and prohibits the operation of personal watercraft (commonly referred to as jetskis) between sunset and sunrise.
Two bills of specific interest have passed the House this year and as of mid-March are in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. H.488 would prohibit the use of felt-soled boots and waders in Vermont waters. Felt-soled boots have been implicated in the spread of aquatic invasive species such as didymo, and it is difficult to disinfect these boots to prevent the spread of such species. H.763 is the result of lengthy discussions in the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee on H.323. FOVLAP’s President Perry Thomas and Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Ginny Garrison testified on H.323 before the committee in January in strong support of the restoration and conservation of riparian buffers along Vermont’s lakes, rivers and streams. H.763, among other measures, would declare that it is in the public interest to encourage and promote buffers and protected river corridors in Vermont; establish shoreland management and river corridor management programs within ANR; provide encouragement and financial incentives to towns to adopt zoning to establish buffers and river corridors; and require ANR to develop best management practices for the management of shorelands, river corridors and buffers. FOVLAP will be closely monitoring the progress of H.763 in the Senate. The other 14 bills mentioned above of potential interest to FOVLAP members have not been acted upon in the Legislature to-date.