Philip Baruth

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Senate defeats bill to protect workers’ use of sick time

MONTPELIER — Legislation to prevent employers from retaliating against workers who utilize earned time off benefits failed on the Senate floor Tuesday as Democrats split their votes. In a rare defeat for a bill that makes it to the Senate floor, the body voted 12 to 14 to scuttle it after a late push Tuesday morning from pro-business groups. Democrats, who control the chamber with a veto-proof majority, split their votes — seven in favor and seven opposed. For Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, it was a failure of Democratic leadership that led to the bill’s defeat. “The real question is, in my mind, if Democrats are supportive of workers’ rights, what happened to those seven legislators and why wasn’t there some leadership to make sure they were on board?” he said. Continue Reading →

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Senate fends off effort to repeal aid-in-dying law

MONTPELIER — The Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to legislation that prevents safeguards in the state’s aid-in-dying law from expiring after fending off a spirited attempt to repeal the 2013 law that allows terminal patients to obtain lethal medication to end their lives. Under the current law, patients who want to obtain lethal medication must be a Vermont resident and have a terminal diagnosis with a prognosis, according to two doctors, 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. And, the patient must make two oral requests at least 15 days apart followed by a written request with two witnesses attesting that the request was made voluntarily. But those steps, based on a landmark Oregon law, are set to expire in July 2016 if the law is not amended. Continue Reading →

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Gun bill set for State House showdown

MONTPELIER — More than 100 gun control advocates packed a State House room Wednesday in support of pending legislation that would expand criminal background checks to gun shows and online gun sales in Vermont. The legislation is in the process of being drafted and will be co-sponsored by Sens. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, John Campbell, D-Windsor, and Claire Ayer, D-Addison — all members of Senate leadership. Gun Sense Vermont, a gun control advocacy group, held a press conference Wednesday to highlight the legislation and encourage lawmakers to support it. “In Vermont our laws are leftover from an age gone by, from before there was Internet, before there was an interstate. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers look to protect online privacy of job applicants

That mortifying Facebook photo you were tagged in last week? May not be such a deal-breaker after all. Vermont lawmakers want to shield the social media profiles of job applicants from the prying eyes of their would-be employers. For the second year in a row, Sen. Dick Sears is pushing a legislation that would make it illegal for employers to request from job seekers their passwords to Facebook, Twitter and other social network accounts. Sears said he’s unaware of any instances of Vermiont employers demanding access to applicants’ online profiles as a condition of employment. Continue Reading →

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Baruth withdraws proposed assault weapons ban, but gun-control debate lives on

Reported first by Green Mountain Daily’s Ed Garcia and confirmed first by Paul Heintz at Seven Days, Sen. Philip Baruth says he’ll withdraw a proposed ban on assault weapons. Baruth’s proposal fueled a groundswell of opposition that erupted Saturday in Montpelier, when about 250 Vermonters rallied on the steps of the Statehouse in support of the Second Amendment. In a statement provided to Heintz, Baruth said “it is painfully clear to me now that little support exists in the Vermont Statehouse for this sort of bill.” “It’s equally clear that focusing the debate on the banning of a certain class of weapons may already be overshadowing measures with greater consensus, like tightening background checks, stopping the exchange of guns for drugs, and closing gun show loopholes,” Baruth said. Elected last month to serve as majority leader of the 23-member Senate Democratic caucus, Baruth also said “I owe it to my caucus to remove an issue that seems increasingly likely to complicate our shared agenda this biennium.” Continue Reading →

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Dems pick Philip Baruth as next Senate Majority Leader

One of the more vocal critics of Senate leadership over the past two years was elected by his Democratic peers Saturday to help fix it. Sen. Philip Baruth, a second-term Chittenden County Democrat, will serve as his 23-member caucus’ next majority leader. During his first two years in office, Baruth often chided Senate President John Campbell for a top-down leadership style he said was used to subvert the will of the majority. Baruth on Sunday said he thinks he and Campbell are primed to improve the dynamic. “A lot of problems were caused by bills that had lot of support in the caucus but then didn’t have quite enough support to get out of committee,” Baruth said. Continue Reading →

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