Mike Fisher

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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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Vaccine issue resurfaces in Montpelier, but leadership not keen on reliving old battle

One of the surprise controversies of 2012 arrived at the Legislature in the form of a bill that sought to rescind the “philosophical exemption” invoked by hundreds of parents across Vermont to sidestep school vaccination requirements. A grassroots coalition of well-organized citizens managed to quash the legislation, convincing lawmakers to adopt a watered-down version that made it only slightly more difficult to invoke the exemption. One the top supporters of the 2012 bill, however, is renewing the push this year to address what he says are alarmingly low vaccination rates in pockets of the state. Rep. George Till, a Jericho Democrat and the lone medical doctor in the Legislature, wants to remove both the philosophical and religious exemptions for the vaccination that prevents pertussis – a.k.a. whooping cough. And at public schools where the vaccination rate drops below 90 percent, Till has a separate bill that would revoke the religious and philosophical exemptions for any vaccination. Continue Reading →

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