- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Latest on Vermont Legislature (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

A leader of the push for marijuana legalization in the Vermont Senate wants to put the issue to a statewide advisory vote in November.

Vermont, unlike some other states - including all those that have legalized pot - doesn’t have a mechanism for voters to pass a law via a binding referendum. Sen. Richard Sears, a Bennington Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says he wants to gauge the views of the voters on the issue.

The House voted down a non-binding referendum proposal earlier this week. That vote would have been held in August.

The Senate was expected to vote on Sears’ proposal Thursday evening. If the so-called “reefer-endum” is approved, it would then go back to the House.

4 p.m.

The Vermont House has agreed with the Senate on the third of three forestry bills, one of which seeks to protect landowners from timber theft.

Other measures put forestry on par with farming in protecting woodlot owners from local regulation as long as they are following acceptable state practices. Lawmakers also set up new protections for foresters from lawsuits by neighbors who move into the area and complain about noise or other perceived problems tied to forestry operations.

Michael Snyder, commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, says one disappointment for him is that lawmakers did not include a “right to forest” provision similar to the state’s right to farm law.

But he says the bills represent progress overall because they will help forestry operations stay in business.

3 p.m.

The Vermont House has approved legislation that expands the state DNA database by adding to the crimes that prompt collection of DNA samples from people convicted of crimes.

It’s a win for law enforcement in a yearslong tug of war with civil libertarians who have tried to limit the types of crimes that trigger the taking and recording of a DNA samples.

The House action is expected to clear the way for the bill to be sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature.

The bill calls for those required to give a DNA sample to include anyone convicted of a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of 30 days or more.

It also includes defendant who have pleaded their cases down from a charge that brings a DNA test to a lesser charge that normally does not.

1 p.m.

Vermont lawmakers say a proposal to use a saliva test to check for drugged driving is dead for this year.

The House had approved allowing police to use a saliva test as a preliminary indicator of intoxication at the time a driver is stopped. Then police could use another saliva test back at the station as evidence in court. It a driver did not consent, police could get a blood test to check for drugs, including alcohol.

The House action followed a report from a state-commissioned lab that warned that levels of drugs in a person’s system could not be used as an indication a driver was impaired.

The Senate had resisted, with two key committee chairmen saying there wasn’t enough time to consider the measure.

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