Monday, March 28, 2011

Tracking Bills

Things in the legislature are heating up! Rural Vermont is tracking a variety of bills and I am finding myself bouncing between House Ag, Senate Ag., House Human Services, Senate Government Operations and Senate Economic Development Committees. I wanted to write down quick summaries of each bill- both for an update for my loyal readers and as a way of keeping myself in line.

H. 367: An act relating to labeling genetically engineered food, would require all foods with one or more GE ingredient to be labeled as such (House Human Services)

H.52: An act relating to the definition of poultry, would make quail, partridge and pheasant non-amenable species and thus not subject to mandatory inspection.

H. 287: An act relating to job creation and economic development, instigates several state programs to enhance local agriculture as a stimulus for the economy. It would create a large animal vet educational loan repayment fund, allocate money for farms to become GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified, implement a skilled meat cutter apprenticeship program, designate a local foods coordinator, and allot further funding to the Farm to Plate Initiative.

S.69 and S. 63 are both acts relation to purchasing of Vermont products and services. Either bill, if it were passed would provide a preference for local bidders on state contracts. Food that was grown, harvested and produced locally would be given an 8% preference in bids. S. 69 would also implement a task force to develop a fair-trade vermont labeling and certificaton system.

Misc Agriculture Bill or the Dairy Housekeeping Bill: Contains new language that will allow the raw dairy classes to be up and running again, as well as a number of legislative fixes to do with agriculture. Compost language has been tied on to the end of the bill, attempting to limit the rights' of municipal zoning regulators. This bill, although lengthy is comprehensive, clear and progressing in the right direct. It is currently still in draft form.

H.421: An Act Relating to the Use and Registration of Genetically Engineered Alfalfa seeds in Vermont, would require seed distributors to register purchasers and notify all residents within 3 miles of where the seeds will be planted.

H2A resolution: This joint resolution asks the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. House to extend the H2A program for dairy workers as they are not seasonal workers but work all year round. Passed in the House and is up in the Senate this week.

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