Posts from the ‘Constituent’ Category
Town Meeting Report 2019
March 2, 2019
Reporting to my constituents about what work we have done up until Town Meeting is always a bit curious, because very little of what we have done is tangible yet. There has been a lot of education for the new representatives, a lot of adjustment for me as I assume leadership in my committee, and lots of smoke and fire over issues like education, racial equity, freedom of choice, family and medical leave, minimum wage, tax and regulation of marijuana and so on. We have had introductions to many bills that have been requested by constituents, and check-ins from the many departments from whom we have requested reports. It’s been very busy, but without solid outcomes. We are approaching crossover, the date by which we have to pass bills out of our committee in order to be considered by the Senate (and vice versa), and we are still receiving bills that have been requested. It’s almost like a kaleidoscope right now — lots of interesting shapes and colors that change with a slight turn that are interesting in many different ways. We soon have to stop the turning and be satisfied with the last result, and then move on to the next.
This report focuses on some of the key legislation or events that have shaped our experience in the State House so far. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, or have needs from the bureaucracy.
Getting Warmed Up for the Next Session
November 30, 2017
I am sitting in my seat in the House of Representatives listening to our annual fall report on the fiscal health of the State of Vermont, and the early review is that, overall, our statewide fiscal health is reasonably good, within the confines of the policies we have put in place (expenditures) and the income we take in (taxes). The report is current, in that it does not and cannot fully contemplate any possible effects of tax and spending policies by the federal government. So-called tax reform bills are possibly coming to a vote this week or next, and we still don’t know what the full effects will be on our state revenues, and won’t until some bill passes and becomes law.
This recap also does not contemplate some of the ongoing and pressing issues and troubles for the residents of Vermont, the most important being the slow but sure gap between the ability to earn enough money to pay our share of the expenses needed to maintain a basic way of life.
Due to the great unknowns in Washington, it is hard to really summarize what our personal or caucus-wide priorities will be. Why? Vermont has an all-inclusive budget of just over $5 billion, 40% of which comes from the federal government for a number of services, from education to health care, from human services to housing, from environmental clean-ups to roads. If tax reform passes, as proposed, great portions of those federal funds will be at risk and will make an impact on Vermonters that we do not yet fully understand. From a state government perspective, we may need to completely rewrite our own tax code in order to fill in the gaps because so much of it is tied to the federal tax system. If it changes, we need to change. Read more
The 2017 End of Session Report
September 12, 2017
It has been nearly three months since we gavelled out of this year’s session, and in the background was the notion that we may have had to return in October, if the shenanigans in DC amounted to Vermont being damaged financially. With some luck, it seems that the fears we have are postponed to another time, and Congress and the President have agreed to a Continuing Resolution, which continues funding at present levels. With this news, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Pro Tem and the Governor have agreed to cancel the October session and, save for summer committees, our work is complete. (Which is not to say we are not worried about the impacts being made on all of our systems due to gross reductions in staff across many agencies, from HUD to the EPA and so on…)
And now, so is our 2017 End of Session Report. Rep. Theresa Wood and I were as perplexed as you were at the endgame — three vetoes by the Governor on bills that received wide approval in the House and Senate. We worked with our caucus to stand strong for the work we did that benefitted Vermonters most — a balanced budget with no new taxes, funding for more affordable housing and improvements in our child care and mental health systems.
As always, please feel free to reach out with your thoughts, needs, and criticism. It remains a privilege to serve you.