Adjournment is about a month away, lawmakers say


The Vermont Legislature will wrap up the second half of the biennium in the next four weeks, though it's anyone's guess just what day lawmakers will adjourn.

House Speaker Shap Smith says the session will be 16 weeks to 17 weeks, and will likely end between May 3 and May 10.

Though there is a lot of unfinished business at hand, Smith says, there are no lightning rod issues that threaten to push the Legislature into an 18th week (and the specter of paying lawmakers more than what is budgeted for the session).

The end game rides on how quickly lawmakers can work through dozens of bills that still need the approval of the House or the Senate.

Two of those bills - the property tax rate legislation and a proposal to consolidate school boards in Vermont - were late arrivals from the House to the Senate.

The school board consolidation bill, H.883, hasn't yet gone to the floor of the House, where there is sure to be a difficult fight over the elimination of hundreds of school boards in lawmakers' districts. Its future in the Senate is uncertain.

The must-pass money bills - budget, transportation, capital, miscellaneous tax, property tax and fee bills - are now all in the Senate, awaiting approval and will take time for Senate Finance and Appropriations committees to vet.

The Big Bill is typically one of the last pieces of legislation to pass, and Senate Appropriations is just finishing up testimony on it this week. Mark-up will be next week. The earliest the budget could be voted out of committee is April 25. The Senate floor would take up the state spending bill the following week.


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