New herbicide bill in the offing

VERGENNES — Strong emotions were on display at at Monday’s legislative breakfast at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Vergennes when the topic turned to abortion. But the half-dozen lawmakers and several dozen citizen also talked about other issues.
Other discussion at Monday’s legislative breakfast focused on:
•  A proposal for a ban the use of glyphosate, a chemical used in some herbicides. Addison resident John Ball called it an “extraordinarily toxic chemical not only for plants, but humans as well.”
Rep. Terry Norris, I-Shoreham, said the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee last year considered a bill to ban glyphosate, but it didn’t advance. Part of the reason, he said, is that current federal law requires a state to identify a satisfactory replacement for any chemical that is banned.
And Norris added representatives of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s chemical division testified that glyphosate was one of the “safest” herbicides currently available.
Rep. Mari Cordes, D-Lincoln, promised to introduce a bill to ban glyphosate in an effort to protect people and pollinators, like honey bees.
•  Raising the state’s minimum wage rate from the current $10.50 per hour, to $15 by 2024. Such a bill failed to get Gov. Phil Scott’s signature last year, but lawmakers are trying again this session.
•  Efforts to increase Vermont’s population, particularly the “young families” demographic. Breakfast participants urged lawmakers to ramp up broadband/high-speed internet infrastructure as a way of attracting more people to the state.
•  Weatherization. Legislators vowed to support programs this year that would make it less expensive for Vermonters to make their homes weatherproof as a means of saving heating fuel costs and reducing the state’s carbon footprint.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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