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What You Need To Know This Week: Expungement Rules Now In Effect, VT Legislature Gets Back To Work, COVID Gathering Ban Back On

The Vermont State House on the Legislature's opening day on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Oliver Parini for VPR
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Monica Donovan 4 Jan 2021

Vermont’s expungement rules now in effect

As of January 1, 2021 no one will be convicted of a crime or have a criminal record for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, anyone with a simple possession arrest under 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a)(1) is not required to acknowledge — and may deny — the existence of the record in any “application for employment, license, or civil right or privilege or in an appearance as a witness in any proceeding or hearing,” regardless of whether the person has received notice from the court that an expungement order has been issued on the person’s behalf. They may also seek expungement by petition prior to the court completing its automatic expungement process.

The Criminal Division of the Superior Court is required to order the expungement of all criminal justice records — including arrest, custody, and disposition — for violations of 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a) (possession or cultivation of modest amounts of cannabis) prior to January 1, 2021. The automatic expungement process must be completed by January 1, 2022.

18 V.S.A. § 4230(a) currently applies to anything under the following amounts: two ounces of cannabis, 10 grams of hashish, four mature plants, and eight immature plants. Prior to 2018, it applied to the same amounts of cannabis and hashish and three total plants.

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Vermont legislature begins its 2021-22 biennium

The Vermont House of Representatives and Senate will convene this week as the legislators start their respective terms, 30 doing so as newly-elected members.

Wednesday morning, the speaker of the House and party caucus leaders are expected to preside from the podium and floor, respectively, to help kick off the biennium and invoke the spirit of the House. Elections for the speaker, clerk, resolutions and other key motions will follow later in the day.

The Canvassing Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday at 10 a.m. before the Inaugural Message, which is slated for 2 p.m.

All ceremonies are set to be live streamed through legislature.vermont.gov.

Vaccine allotment going down

As mentioned in Gov. Phil Scott’s Dec. 31 media briefing, the state will be getting fewer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. The Pfizer doses are set to drop from 5,850 to 3,900 while the Moderna doses will decrease slightly from 4,000 to 3,900.

Multi-household gathering ban back in effect

Gov. Phil Scott lifted a multi-household gathering ban through the holidays, allowing Vermonters to meet with one other trusted household, but that ban is now back in place.

As of Monday, Vermonters were not allowed to hold multi-household gatherings except for outdoor, masked gatherings with one other household. People in unsafe situations may also move to another household, and people who live alone may socialize with a single other household.

Where to get tested

The Vermont Health Department has expanded the locations at which it’s providing free testing for COVID-19 to people who are not showing symptoms. Find out how to register and a full list of the free testing sites at healthvermont.gov/covid-19/testing/where-get-tested.

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