Register to vote and details on paid sick leave

Town meeting is next week! 

I hope to see many of you at your town meeting.  It’s not too late to register to vote.  Register by this Wednesday, February 24th, to vote in the Presidential primaries and your town ballots.  The link above will allow you to register online.

Wardsboro Connectivity meeting

stevievoting

A community wide public meeting with the Vermont Department of Public Service, Telecom and Connectivity Division and interested Wardsboro citizens is being scheduled for March 2nd at 7 pm at the Wardsboro Town Hall.  The purpose of the meeting is to share data about existing broadband availability and broadband and cell projects and upcoming deployments happening in the Wardsboro area. This public meeting will help inform the next steps in determining how Wardsboro may choose to participate in expanding cell and broadband services in the town.

The Connectivity Initiative Program run by the Department of Public Service, seeks to provide funding for hard to serve areas. More information on the DPS and their various programs is available at: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/topics/connectivity . The meeting is open to the public.  In addition, State Rep. Laura Sibilia lhsibilia@gmail.com  and Wardsboro’s Peter Sebastian pds@myfairpoint.net  would like to hear from citizens who are interested in working on developing long term connectivity solutions for Wardsboro.  Residents and businesses are encouraged to come with specific questions, ideas and concerns regarding broadband and cell service in Wardsboro.

Sick Leave passes

Late last week the House voted to concur with the Senate’s amendment to a paid sick leave bill.  The vote was 81-64.  Vermont is now the fifth and smallest state in the US mandating paid leave, and the second state NOT to include a small business exemption.  Proponents of the bill spoke about a desire for “economic justice”.  Opponents spoke to the myriad categorical  holes in the bill regarding who is and isn’t covered as well as the impact on our smallest Vermont businesses.  I voted against this bill, again,  as I did last year when the house originally took it up.  It is largely an urban and suburban box store protection bill.   It is also now the law of the land.  The particulars of the bill follow:

As of January 1st, 2017 –

  • Employees in Vermont will have access to paid sick leave for a maximum of 24 hours (3 days) per year for the first two years after implementation (2017 and 2018). Following this two year phase in, employees will have up to 40 hours (5 days) per year.
  • Eligible employees must work more then 18 hours per week, more then 20 weeks per year and be 18 years or older.
  • Employers may require a waiting period for new hires of 1 year. During this probationary period employees may accrue sick time.
  • Temporary and seasonal employees are excluded from the law.
  • Full and part-time employees must earn the equivalent of at least: 1 hour of paid time for every 52 hours worked.
  • Employees are permitted to use this time to: Recover from or receive treatment for an illness or injury, care for a family member when they are ill, obtain diagnostic, routine, preventive, or therapeutic health care, take necessary steps for their safety as a result of sexual abuse, domestic violence, or stalking.
  • All employers already offering equal or more generous paid time, combined time, paid sick time are considered compliant.
  • Employers’  policies determine the time increments by which workers may use their sick time.  For example, if an employer has a policy requiring workers to take at least half a day of time when they are absent, that policy stands for the purposes of this legislation.
  • Tipped employees will be compensated at the minimum wage for non-tipped employees.
  • Employers may require employees to make reasonable efforts to find a replacement for planned absences and avoid scheduling routine or preventive health care during work hours.
  • If unused hours are carried over from a previous year, an employee may earn the balance between the unused portion and the maximum allowed.
  • If an employer chooses to pay an employee for unused time at the end of an annual period, the amount for which the employee was compensated does not carry over into the next year.
  • Employers are not required to cash out unused paid sick time when an employee leaves the job.
  • Act will take effect on January 1st 2017, except for businesses with 5 or fewer employees, for those employers the law will take effect beginning January 1st, 2018.

You can read the details of the original House and amended Senate bills here.

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