March 29, 2013
(Author’s note: if all workers were unionized, or worked in high end careers, this legislation would be unnecessary. Alas, ’tis not so.)
I have had the pleasure of working on a number of bills that are friendly to working families in Vermont. Times, as they always do, are changing in the workplace. After a generation of seeing labor policies erode, and seeing middle class jobs disappear (and, in Michigan, still going strong!), we are trying to promulgate policies that try to help workers achieve a work/life balance that works for them and their families. I had the honor of reporting H.99, an act relating to equal pay, on the floor last week. This bill also included language that extend retaliation protections against workers, and extended protections for moms who need to express breast milk while at work.
Also included in the legislation was a process that advocates for flexible work arrangements. This language, if signed into law, would be the first time it appears in statute in the United States. We also ask for a summer study committee in order to look at how paid family leave might be implemented in Vermont.
Now, under most circumstances, I would be exceedingly proud of the work we did in our committee in bringing this bill out, and of the sponsors, including Jill Krowinski from Burlington. I am proud, don’t get me wrong, but sad as well, for these are policies that should have been implemented, and could have been implemented, at any time over the last 35 years. We received push back from the usual suspects — associations that would rather not see employees empowered to work with employers if they want or need a flexible work schedule. But in the end, the bill passed overwhelmingly because we, as a whole, recognized that we need to provide employers with a framework for a policy that will attract and retain quality employees. And our work on equal pay strengthens that important provision in a way that anticipates the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act. Read more
March 3, 2013
There is a plethora of information available to you from the state government to help you understand many of the issues facing us this year in Montpelier. First, here’s a link to Rep. Rebecca Ellis’s and my Town Meeting Report.
For a midsession report on the status of our efforts to move to the federally mandated health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act, click here. And here’s a link for even more information on the work of the House Health Care Committee.
For an opportunity to purchase a print of Sarah Lee Terrat’s painting “Washington County Crossing Main Street,” which was displayed in the State House in January, visit this link at the VT Strong website. Twenty percent of the proceeds will benefit the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
For our Joint Fiscal Office’s compilation of the FY2014 proposed property tax rates, click here. I am still digesting the numbers, but it looks like each of our district’s towns have different outcomes in terms of the size of the increase in local rates.
The Washington West Supervisory Union website is a gateway to our local school systems in Washington County, and the Chittenden East Supervisory Union website will take you to information regarding Smilie and Brewster Pierce.