Jeanette White

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Senate passes marijuana legalization bill with tax-and-regulate language

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate, frustrated by inaction in the House and hoping to apply pressure on the chamber down the hall, advanced a seed-to-sale marijuana legalization bill Friday by a veto-proof margin. The action in the Senate Friday was no surprise — members of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday a plan to amend a House bill to include language creating a tax-and-regulate legal marijuana market in Vermont. After clearing procedural hurdles, the effort prevailed on a 21 to 9 vote — large enough to override a potential veto by Republican Gov. Phil Scott. Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, was the lead sponsor of the amendment that mimics legislation passed last year by the Senate, but failed spectacularly in the House. Members of the Senate were expecting the House to pass its own version of marijuana legalization this year, but that effort stalled when the bill made it to the House only to be jettisoned by Democratic leaders in the House back to committee because it lacked the votes to pass. Continue Reading →

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Senators look to advance discussion on legal pot

MONTPELIER — Frustrated by a lack of action in the House, the Senate will consider two amendments in the coming days that would put the state on a path toward legalizing marijuana. The Senate Judiciary Committee laid out its plans Tuesday to offer various amendments. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said there is “general frustration” in the Senate that the House has been unable or unwilling to act on its own bill this year, which prompted a review among some senators on how to move the conversation forward. “We had fully counted on the House passing H.170 this year. When they got to the floor I think there was a big deflation for us in the Senate. Continue Reading →

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Ashe: Legalizing pot this year will take a ‘miracle’

MONTPELIER — The prospect of legalizing marijuana this year is likely over, “barring a miracle,” according to Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe. Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, made that comment in a briefing for reporters Tuesday on legislation the Senate still hopes to pass this year. Ashe, and Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they are hoping to find some way to make progress on legalization this year as the House continues to see its bill languish in committee. But progress means passing something “that reflects the Senate’s interests,” according to Ashe. He said he is not inclined to support any legislation that does not at least include a commission tasked with creating a legal market, he said. Continue Reading →

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Watch: Capital Beat with Secretary of State Condos and Sen. Jeanette White

Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami discusses an ethics bill passed by the Senate with Secretary of State Jim Condos and Sen. Jeanette White, the chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. Capital Beat airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. on Vermont PBS Plus. Continue Reading →

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Senate advances ethics bill

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to legislation that will tweak ethics laws for some government officials and create a statewide ethics commission to review complaints. The measure, S.8, was passed on a voice vote without opposition. It will be up for final approval in the Senate Wednesday. Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, the chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, told her colleagues that trust in government has been eroding for years. “This mistrust runs from the federal government down to local government,” she said. Continue Reading →

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DCF protection bill clears committee

MONTPELIER — A bill that offers enhanced penalties for assaulting mandated reporters and criminalizes the act of making a threat cleared a key legislative committee Wednesday. By a vote of 4 to 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave its go ahead to a proposed law that would offer stiffer penalties for assaulting a worker with the Department for Children and Families or anyone who is required to report suspected child abuse. The bill comes in response to the 2015 shooting death of DCF worker Lara Sobel, who was killed outside her office in downtown Barre in August, and is one of several recent initiatives to protect workers who sometimes find themselves in the middle contentious domestic situations. Under the terms of the bill, DCF workers and mandated reporters will join the ranks of police officers, first responders and medical providers; assaulting a member of any of these professions carries a stronger penalty than the assault of the average person on the street. The enhanced penalty for assaulting a mandated reporter would only be in effect if the assault is directly related to the act of making a DCF report. Continue Reading →

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Senate Judiciary advances pot bill on 4 to 1 vote

MONTPELIER — The legalization of marijuana in Vermont received its first affirmative votes from lawmakers Friday as the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on a 4 to 1 vote. The downsized legislation to allow the legal possession, consumption and sale of marijuana in the state is now headed to the Senate Finance Committee, which will attempt to determine how legalized marijuana will be taxed. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, worked to amend a bill introduced by Sens. Jeanette White, D-Windham and Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, to create a bill that he would support and met the conditions laid out by Gov. Peter Shumlin. The governor called for the legalization of pot in his State of the State address earlier this month. Continue Reading →

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Senate bill to legalize marijuana is unveiled

MONTPELIER — Legislation to be introduced next month when lawmakers return to the State House would allow those 21 and over to grow and possess marijuana as early as July 2016. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Jeanette White, D-Windham, and Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, would allow for the retail sale of pot and permitted lounges, in 2017. White crafted the bill following a series of hearings by the Senate Government Operations Committee this fall. The committee could not reach consensus on a bill, she said. Continue Reading →

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Marijuana bill close to completion

MONTPELIER — A Senate committee is completing its deliberations on a bill outlining how marijuana legalization would work, but at least two lawmakers say they will not add their names to the bill. The Senate Government Operations Committee has been studying the issue of marijuana legalization, forgoing the question of whether it should happen and instead asking how it would work. Now, lawmakers are putting their final touches on a bill that will come not from the committee itself, but will be sponsored by committee members who support the bill’s goals. “The bill will not be a committee bill but will be sponsored by some of us,” wrote committee Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham, in an email, in which she said the bill must be completed to go to the printer by Friday. “At that time it is given a number and is an official bill,” White said. “It will be on the floor for first reading (introduction) when we come back. It will go directly to Judiciary.”

It will be the task of the Senate Judiciary Committee to review both this bill and the one offered during the last legislative session by Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, which proposes the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Continue Reading →

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Possession, edibles top legalization debate

MONTPELIER — Possession limits and edibles topped a discussion Thursday on how the state might go about marijuana legalization. The Senate Government Operations Committee spent most of the day mulling how, not if, pot would be legalized during the upcoming legislative session, with an eye toward everything from the way Vermonters would be allowed to cultivate to the items that would be available at shops selling pot products. Numerous bills related to legalization are pending, including one from Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden – who is running for lieutenant governor – calling for legalization, to another from Rep. David Potter, D-West Rutland, whose bill calls for a saliva test to determine if a motorist is driving while stoned. All of these bills are set against the backdrop of a state-commissioned study from the Rand Corporation released in January stating the taxation of marijuana could generate as much as $70 million in revenue, an attractive proposition for some lawmakers as the state is looking at a projected $66 million deficit. In some ways, the committee’s take on marijuana mirrors existing laws governing alcohol. Continue Reading →

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