Paul Poirier

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House votes to maintain safeguards, fends off repeal of Act 39

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House on Wednesday voted to maintain safeguards in place under the state’s aid-in-dying law after defeating an effort to repeal it entirely. On a 83 to 60 vote, the chamber defeated an amendment by independent Barre Rep. Paul Poirier to repeal Act 39, which was signed into law in 2013. The law allows terminally ill patients to receive a prescription for lethal medication. Any patient seeking to take advantage of the law must live in Vermont and have a prognosis of less than six months to live. A doctor must also find that the patient has the capacity to make the decision to obtain the medication voluntarily. Continue Reading →

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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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Senator wants sway over Public Service Board, and more from the first bills of 2013

Forget about broad-based taxes, death with dignity, marijuana decriminalization and probitions on mountaintop wind: the first House bill of the new biennium aims to simplify judicial bookkeeping. In a sure sign that the new session is nearly upon us, legislative staff have unveiled the texts of bills that are ready for introduction. H1 is a gripping bit of statute that would repeal a provision requiring superior court clerks to “keep a book of judgments separate from the originals.” Like most of the 1,000 or so bills introduced in a given biennium, H1 won’t generate much talk outside the committee to which it’s assigned. But in addition to the mundane work of legal bookkeeping, lawmakers will consider scores of bills this year that could have a real impact on the lives of the Vermonters they represent. Continue Reading →

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Citing autocratic style, Poirier plans to challenge Smith for Speaker post

BARRE — Rep. Paul Poirier, a Barre independent, said Friday he’s planning to challenge House Speaker Shap Smith, a Morrisville Democrat, for the leadership post in January. “I’m quite sure that is what I’m going to do,” said Poirier, who plans to make a formal announcement Wednesday. But leaving the door open to a change of heart, he said he’s about “90 percent” certain he’ll run. A longtime Democrat who first ran as an independent in 2010, Poirier said he has been troubled by what he sees as Smith’s autocratic leadership style — a style he said has marginalized minority parties and chilled debate in Vermont’s House of Representatives. (more…) Continue Reading →

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