Moran talks about
’sick time’ legislation

Editor of the Reformer:

Earned sick time (H.208, which I cosponsored) presently is the focus of considerable attention in the Vermont House. The General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee, of which I am the vice chair, has been taking extensive written and verbal testimony from numerous proponents and opponents.

Up to 60,000 Vermonters are estimated to be employed without any paid time off and they usually work in the lower paying, customer contact industries. As offered, the bill proposes that an employee earns sick days at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 56 hours a year. If employers already provide equivalent time off (often known as combined time off, or a combination of vacation, personal and sick days), conditions of the bill are generally met.

Our committee is exploring public health, employer and worker consequences of this proposal, and will craft final legislation that responds to testimony received.

Send any comments or questions to me at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355, 802-896-9408; or, The State House, 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633-5201, 800-322-5616 , jmoran@leg.state.vt.us.

Rep. John Moran,

Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham, Feb. 3

Better to be safe,
than sorry

Editor of the Reformer:

There’s an assumption among Americans that the products we buy must be safe if they’re on store shelves, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. From cleaners to shampoos to clothing to children’s toys, we use chemicals each day that are harmful to our health. Toxic chemicals are harmful to everyone who is exposed, but children are more susceptible to their dangers. Over the course of a typical day, children are exposed to measurable levels of toxic chemicals, including BPA, phthalates, flame retardants, and lead.

As a mother with a background in biology, I read labels, research alternatives, and go to great lengths to avoid exposure. But this can be costly, time-consuming, and disheartening because I can only limit exposure -- not eliminate it. We don’t live in a bubble, and there are more than 85,000 chemicals in use in the U.S. with as many as 2,000 new ones added each year. Fewer than 700 are monitored through the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, only 200 have been tested for human safety, and merely five have been banned under the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act. One such substance, asbestos, was reintroduced after its ban was overturned.

I shouldn’t need a PhD in toxicology to keep my daughter safe from toxic chemicals -- and real change will require a collective effort. We should demand transparency and disclosure from corporations that don’t list all ingredients on product packaging. We should demand more scientific research and improved government regulation and oversight.

Now is the time for Vermonters to lead the way toward a safer future and pass comprehensive chemical reform that spurs our leaders in Washington to act on federal reform. When it comes to chemical exposure, history tells us that it’s far better to be safe than sorry -- and when we advocate for governmental and corporate change, we help insure a safer and healthier future for everyone -- especially our children.

Abigail Mnookin,

Brattleboro, Jan. 31

What’s that got to do with it?

Editor of the Reformer:

With Obama’s new fuss about being black, he should take the line from Hillary Clinton as to "what difference does it make"!

Thank you.

Linda W. Hellus

Dummerston, Jan. 21