Chris Pearson

Recent Posts

House defeats efforts to legalize, further decriminalize pot

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House on Tuesday soundly rejected a Senate proposal to legalize marijuana and create a regulated retail market for the drug, and even fell short of decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of two marijuana plants. The House did manage to salvage a commission that will study the legalization of marijuana and report its findings back to the Legislature, likely setting up another push at legalization next year after the November election. The House first voted 121 to 28 Tuesday against the Senate’s proposal, which was strongly backed by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. The Senate passed the bill on a 17 to 12 vote. Rep. Chris Pearson, a Progressive from Burlington, was among the slim minority of House members who supported the Senate’s language. Continue Reading →

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Proposal To Raise Vermont Smoking Age To 21 Defeated After Surprise Tie Vote

MONTPELIER — A stunning turn of events in Montpelier saw the Vermont House this afternoon very nearly passed a measure to raise the state’s smoking age froom 18 to 21. But after 71-71 vote put the fate of the proposal in the hands of House Speaker Shap Smith, the Morrisville Democrat killed the measure without actually casting a tie-breaking vote. The proposal was part of amendment to a bill regulating electronic cigarettes, and it would have raised the age at which people can possess or purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 over a three-year period. House leaders didn’t expect the proposal to garner as much support as it did. But eleventh-hour soul-searching by at least one Democrat, as well as some surprise ‘yes’ votes from several conservative Republicans, resulted in a tie vote. Continue Reading →

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Soda tax could get revote as early as Wednesday

The House Committee on Health Care looks poised to settle some unfinished business tomorrow morning, when members might reconsider their tie vote last Friday on the soda tax. The committee by all accounts had the votes to pass the penny-per-ounce surcharge on “sugar sweetened beverages.” But when Rep. George Till departed suddenly to tend to a medical emergency (he’s a doctor), he took with him one of the ‘yes’ votes needed to pass the bill. Committee chairman Mike Fisher proceeded with the vote anyway, which resulted in a 5-5 tie. Following the vote, Fisher declared the bill dead. But it looks like the committee is eager to resurrect the measure, and that someone will make a motion to reconsider, possibly as early as tomorrow. Continue Reading →

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Progs slam Shumlin over plan to fund childcare by cutting benefits to poor

A group of Progressive lawmakers this afternoon took an aggressive stance against Peter Shumlin’s first high-profile proposal of 2013, saying his “half-baked” plan to fund new childcare subsidies would “pit working families against one another.”

Shumlin won plaudits last week for proposing that Vermont spend an additional $17 million on childcare subsidies for low-income parents. But his plan to fund it – reducing an “earned income tax credit” that now delivers refund checks to more than 40,000 low-income tax filers – has drawn a scathing rebuke. At a press conference in the Cedar Creek room, Rep. Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, said it can’t be considered a “serious proposal.”

“I have yet to hear from any Democrat who supports this idea. Republicans have articulated their concerns, and Progressives are solidly opposed to this funding scheme,” Pearson said. Pearson said Vermont needs to move ahead with the additional childcare subsidies, but that “there is no reason to cut the most effective anti-poverty program in Vermont” to do it. Continue Reading →

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