Vermont Business Magazine On January 16th, H.624 was introduced, proposing increased protections for Vermonters’ sensitive and personal data contained in the statewide voter checklist. H.624 is sponsored by Rep. Dylan Giambatista of Essex Junction. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos and Attorney General TJ Donovan have underscored the importance to legislators of ensuring that Vermonters’ most sensitive personal data is protected in light of the request for sensitive data about Vermont voters from the President’s Election Integrity Commission.“I refused to comply with the Commission’s request because I take the protection and security of Vermont voters’ personal data very seriously” said Secretary Condos, who responded to the initial request for voter data by saying “we cannot compromise the privacy of Vermont citizens to support the President’s witch hunt for widespread voter fraud, which has been disproven many times over by non-partisan experts.”While the President’s Election Integrity Commission was dissolved by executive order on January 3rd of this year, statements by President Trump and former Chair Kobach indicate that the work will continue under cover of the Department of Homeland Security and without the public scrutiny that comes with a formal commission.“Vermont has a long history of protecting people’s privacy” said Attorney General TJ Donovan. “This bill continues that tradition. I stand with Secretary of State Condos in support of protecting Vermonters’ privacy and thank him for his leadership on this issue.”“H.624 will create increased protection of the statewide voter checklist, and I urge the Legislature to act quickly and pass this bill” said Secretary Condos.
Regis Little bill on the way to the governor Regis Little bill on the way to the governor Senior EditorIn honor of Regis Little, an 18-year-old former foster youth with disabilities found stabbed to death in an Orange County parking lot, legislators named a proposed new law “The Regis Little Act to Protect Young Adults With Special Needs.” CSCS/HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, and SC/SB496, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is on the way to Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law.From subcommittees to the floor debates on these bills, in both the House and Senate, the votes were unanimous in support. On April 22, on third reading, Sen. Detert adopted the House version and added the law’s new name.The legislation provides a mechanism for identifying guardians and guardian advocates so that probate court judges can appoint them when the dependent child with disabilities is 17, before leaving foster care at 18.The Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee made the Regis Little issue a priority.“There is strong language to ensure the rights of incapacitated youth in foster care are protected by adhering to existing law that requires use of the least restrictive type of decision-making assistance for these young adults,” said Alan Abramowitz, executive director of the statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, and former chair of the Bar committee.After locating Regis’ sister in another state, and receiving her support in honoring Regis, Abramowitz said, the sponsors decided to name the new law after him.The name “Regis Little” is sadly familiar to Florida’s child advocates and became a call for action for foster youth who age out of the system but don’t have the ability to take care of themselves.As Gerry Glynn, chief legal officer of Community Based Care in Central Florida, detailed during testimony at the Legislature, when Regis Little turned 18, he refused services from the Department of Children and Families, Family Services of Metro Orlando, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.He had had enough of state services, after bouncing around nine group homes and mental-health facilities from 2000-08 in his short, tragic life.When he was only a baby, he was taken from his mother after she was arrested for shoplifting and found to be using drugs. The state placed him with a family friend who molested him. Before he was old enough to go to kindergarten, his mother had died of cancer and his father had disappeared. For a few years, Regis lived with an aunt, until he became too much for her to handle.As a foster child, he was diagnosed as bi-polar, hyperactive, and with an IQ of 65, he was taking at least five psychotropic medications. Yet again, he was molested in a group home. His education was patchy, with records often taking months to catch up with his new school. As a high school junior, he still could not read or write. There was no stable, consistent person advocating for him.Even if the governor signs the bill into law, the challenge will be finding guardians for the estimated 90 teens who would qualify, said Glynn, also a former chair of the Bar committee, who helped write a scholarly article: “Confidentiality-based Barriers to Advocacy and Survival: A White Paper for Empowering Foster Youth, In Memory of Regis Little.”Glynn said guardians would be found by looking first to relatives, then to some committed adult, and finally by trying to get someone to serve as a guardian pro bono. May 15, 2015 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular News