Learn more about health care advocacy and the legislative process for the state of Vermont:
Vermont residents have a unique opportunity to be involved in the legislative process...it begins with getting to know your legislators.
We encourage everyone to contact your legislators to share your thoughts, ideas for solutions and improvements, and feedback about topics that interest and/or affect you.
Vermont legislative contacts
- VT U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
- VT U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders
- VT U.S. Representative Peter Welch
- Who's My State/Local Legislator?
To find out who your state legislators are, you can also go to: Who's My Representative?, and click on your county on the map of Vermont.
Every legislator (both Representatives and Senators) is elected/re-elected every two years in Vermont. The time between the November elections and the start of the legislative session in January is a great time to contact your legislators, introduce yourself, and talk with them about the issues that are important to you so that they will know who you are when you contact them on specific bills later in the session.
The Vermont Legislature typically considers hundreds of bills that have a wide range of effects on Vermont citizens, from Medicaid payments to the fees for dog licenses. If you have an opinion on a bill, or an experience that could give insight into the potential effects of a bill, your legislators need to hear from you. Call them, e-mail them, or send them a note through snail-mail, but remember that with so many bills to consider, your legislators will appreciate remarks that are clear and concise.
Vermont residents may also participate in the legislative process by attending and/or testifying at public hearings. Unlike NH, not every bill that comes to the VT general assembly will be worked on by a committee in the House or the Senate. For those that are, the Committee will schedule a public hearing for the purpose of gathering information and hearing opinions on all sides of each issue. Other bills introduced but not addressed "stay on the wall". The legislature maintains a calendar, which provides a daily listing of issues to be brought before each body for action. It lists bills to be considered, actions to be taken on each, proposed amendments, etc. Furthermore, House and Senate rules provide that certain items must be listed in the calendar for a specific period before any action is taken.
The Vermont Legislature is divided into two chambers, the House of Representatives with 150 members and the Senate with 30 members.
The law making process
- Ideas for changes to law can come from constituents, the governor, agency, lobbying organization, or a committee but only a legislator or legislative standing committee can introduce a bill.
- Often a sponsor will seek co-sponsors
- Bill draft is assigned a number, read on the floor of the House or Senate for the first time, and assigned to a committee (We usually get about 1000 drafting requests and of these about 750 will be approved and assigned a number)
- Each committee will receive 30 to 100 bills and will work on about 10 of them. The rest will "stay on the wall".
- The committee will schedule testimony from experts and interested parties and post an agenda on the door and on the internet.
- Following testimony, which may take days or weeks, the committee will discuss the bill and usually redraft it.
- If the committee decides to move the bill, they will draft a committee report and put it on the notice calendar. The next day, one of the members of the committee will "report" the bill to the general assembly, and members may ask questions, debate the merits and offer amendments.
- At the end of the debate, the members will vote on whether the bill shall be read a second time. If they vote affirmative, the bill is put on the notice calendar for third reading the next day.
- Before third reading the members may ask questions of the reporter, offer amendments and debate the merits although most bills are thoroughly debated before second reading and there is no discussion at this point.
- If the bill is passed to third reading it is sent to the other house where the process is repeated.
- If the other house passes a different version, a committee of conference is appointed to work out the differences.
- If both houses agree to the committee of conference proposal, the bill is sent to the governor and if signed it becomes law.
Tracking Vermont Legislation
To track bills through the legislative process:
- Go to the Vermont State Government website.
- Enter the bill or resolution number.
- To track the bill's status, click Display Status.
Bills usually start to appear on the website in early January.
As the legislative session progresses the status of bills can change very quickly. If there are bills you are interested in, be sure to check the website at least a couple of times per week for updates or visit the VT Association of Hospitals and Health Systems website.
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