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Capital Letter: News from Montpelier by Representative Kathy Pellett

Chester, Andover, Baltimore, North Springfield

This Capitol Letter will give you some highlights of work going on in other committees in the House.

The Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed S.77, relating to the disposal of electronic waste. This bill addresses the fastest-growing and most hazardous portion of the waste stream makes it responsibility of the producer to dispose of recycled equipment. Effective January 2011, the bill would ban the disposal in landfills of all electronic devices, such as computers, monitors, TVs, printers and other debris of modern life.

These products contain lead, mercury and other hazardous substances that pose a threat to human health and the environment if improperly discarded. Consumers often pay a big fee to recycle this equipment and it was found to be a major disincentive to properly recycle. Vermont will join 20 other states now which require the manufacturers of certain electronic devices to take responsibility for disposal according to their market share. Manufacturers would pay a fee to the Agency of Natural Resources, again according to their market share, to fund free, convenient collection sites around Vermont. We expect this legislation to have a major, positive environmental impact.

The Health Care Committee recently held a three-hour public hearing, listening to a myriad of concerns from the public. While one bill cannot address all the concerns expressed, the committee is working on ways to continue keeping Vermont one of the healthiest states in the nation and continue to make access to health care affordable. Enrollment in VHAP and Catamount Health continues to increase, but now the governor has asked the legislature to increase the premium, co-pays and deductibles for these programs.

For example, he calls for an increase in the deductible for Catamount to go from $250 to $1,250, which would make it totally unaffordable for most if not all those covered in these programs. The committee is studying how to keep the programs sustainable, yet affordable.

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