Commentary: Rep. Bock on gun, tax measures

By Rep. Tom Bock

The school shooting in Florida plus the incident at Fair Haven High School right here in Vermont has brought the need for immediate attention to be paid to gun violence. Gov. Phil Scott had already outlined an action plan to improve school safety and reduce gun violence.

The gun violence prevention legislation in progress includes three critical bills:

  • H.675 would allow a judge to require weapons be turned over as a condition of an individual’s pre-trial release.
  • S.221 would allow police to seek a court order from a judge to seize firearms for up to one year from someone deemed as an “extreme risk” to themselves or others (“red flag” bill).
  • H.422 would allow police to temporarily seize firearms for up to five days from the scene of an alleged domestic assault without a court order.

And just this past week, the House Judiciary Committee approved S.55 by a vote of 6 to 5. This bill would expand background checks to private firearms sales; prohibit those under 21 from purchasing a firearm (with exceptions); and ban high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. The full House chamber took up the bill last Friday, March 23.

The legislature has also made progress on H.911, “An Act Relating to Changes in Vermont’s Personal Income Tax and Education Finance System,” previously titled the Education Finance Reform bill. The bill passed the House last week and is now on its way to the Senate.

The intent of the bill is to reduce reliance on the property tax and depend more heavily on an income tax, which better reflects ability to pay and creates a stronger connection between school budget spending decisions and tax rates. The bill also makes a number of changes to Vermont’s personal income tax. Highlights include:

  • Creating a School Income Tax Surcharge using a progressive tax structure. This will raise approximately $59 million for the Education Fund and reduce the average property tax rate by $0.15.
  • Eliminating the General Fund transfer and substituting it with 100 percent of the sales tax and 25 percent of the meals and rooms tax.
  • Maintaining the non-residential property tax rate at current law.
  • Reducing the state income tax burden on Vermonters who are adversely impacted by the change in Federal Tax Law.
  • Lowering all personal income tax rates by 0.2 percent, while collapsing the top two income tax brackets, and adjusting standard deductions and personal exemptions.
  • Providing tax relief to Vermonters receiving Social Security benefits.

If you are interested in more detail on H.911, click here to read the summary packet.

As always, I welcome any questions, opinions, thoughts, and concerns you may have on any legislative issue. You can contact me at or  I look forward to hearing from you.

Tom Bock represents Andover, Baltimore, Chester and North Springfield in the State House.

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