Rep. Dakin seeks your input on end of life, GMOs, early education and child-care issues

Clearly, End of Life Care legislation — where terminally ill patients with less than six months to live can request a prescription for drugs that they can self-administer to end their lives — will be a major issue in the State House in the final eight weeks of the session.

State Rep. Leigh Dakin

State Rep. Leigh Dakin

I’d like your opinion: Do you want the Vermont Legislature to join Oregon and Washington in providing terminally ill patients this option?  The message from the Senate was that the state should not play a role in this ultimate personal decision. But is the longer bill with extensive safeguards or the one-page bill making health care providers immune from prosecution the best way to accomplish that objective? Here is the original version of Senate Bill 77And here is the shorter amended version, of which Pages 22 & 23 are the pertinent parts.

The Senate has passed the amended version. It is now being taken up by the House Human Services Committee.

As with the federal and local governments, money is the underlying issue behind every public policy debate.  While it appears that a majority of the Legislature favors labeling products containing Genetically Modified Organisms, the hang-up is how much it will cost Vermont to defend this action from the inevitable lawsuits.

Nonetheless, there are positive signs.  The Farm-to-Plate initiative is succeeding in bringing high quality, locally grown products and produce to our schools and institutions.  Simply put, more high-quality Vermont foods are being produced and processed and more folks are eating it, including kids at school, state workers and private sector employees. Let’s give Vermont farmers and consumers the tools they need while simultaneously enriching our health, land and economy.

The Legislature has heard testimony on the productive and proactive investments the state has made in endeavors such as the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, UVM Extension, Farm-to-Plate and especially the Working Lands Enterprise Board, which is budgeted to receive $1.5 million for fiscal 2014. These efforts are paying dividends and proving integral to a holistic approach to economic development, land stewardship and healthier communities.

Expanding early childhood education

Also, do you support reducing the Vermont Earned Income Tax Credit (currently 32% of the Federal EITC)  as a way to provide additional funding for child-care programs? In his last inaugural address, Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed creating a universal early childhood education system by redirecting $17 million from the state EITC to go to helping low-income families pay for quality child care. He also proposed limiting the time someone could be on the Reach Up program — a type of welfare to work that receives federal funds. Both changes would help increase subsidies for child care and expand early childhood education.

The Vermont EITC and additional child-care programs help low income families, but which will do the most good over the long run?

Finally, how should the state collect the money needed to match the federal highway funds – impose a sales tax on gas, raise the gas tax or doing nothing?

Please let me know what you think on these issues. Email me at or call me at home on weekends (875-3456).

Rep. Leigh Dakin
Andover, Baltimore, Chester and Springfield

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  1. Gerald Poulin says:

    End of life: A dying person should determine what he/she wishes. A notarized request form should be signed. Maybe a standard form might be put out by the state. Vermont should pass a no smoking law and become a clean air state.