With dozens of bills still in play Thursday and the deadline for a Saturday adjournment looming, talks on some priority legislation turned testy, as lawmakers abandoned pleasantries and pressed their positions.
In morning talks on the transportation project bill, negotiators went back and forth over the new restrictions that the House wanted to add to improve safety for bicycle riders. “That is a huge issue for the House side,” Rep. Tim Corcoran (D-Bennington) told the senators across the table.
Senators countered that bikers and motorists need to share the road. “I’m reluctant to put all the responsibility on the motorists,” said Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland).
Neither side was ready to budge at this stage in their talks.
The morning meeting of negotiators on the bill reforming the rules governing suspension of drivers’ licenses also showcased more differences than agreement. It began with the two sides staking out conflicting positions on one of the most significant provisions in the bill — the proposed license restoration program.
The exchange between chief Senate negotiator Dick Sears (D-Bennington) and House lead Chip Conquest (D-Newbury) quickly turned prickly, with Sears proposing to jettison the entire license restoration section.