Marijuana hearing and connectivity update

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are more then halfway throughway the session and have begun to send House bills to the Senate for consideration of passage this year

and vice versa.  This past week the House passed the first version of both the budget and tax bills.  The bills now go to the Senate who will make changes, perhaps significant ones.  Then the House will need to vote on the revised budget and tax bills.  I hope to go into more depth about the budget process, which I was more involved in this year then last, in an upcoming post.  Below is information on an upcoming marijuana hearing in the House as well as a second request to hear from folks in the district who have VTel wireless internet service.
Marijuana Legislation:

There is a public hearing on marijuana legalization this Thursday evening in Montpelier –

This hearing will likely have a lot of people showing up to testify both pro and and opposed.  The House Judiciary Committees Press Release notes that not everyone may be able to testify due to time constraints.  The hearing will start at 5 pm and individuals will have two minutes to testify. Sign up to testify begins at 4:30 – if you plan to attend I would urge you to arrive no later then 4:15 to get in line. This is frequently how public meetings occur, though I would note that Senator Sears held two meetings in Southern Vermont earlier this winter on marijuana legalization. If you feel strongly either way about marijuana legislation, I would encourage you to testify – it’s a lot easier then you might think.

If you would like to testify: To prepare for two minutes of testimony, I would strongly encourage you to write your testimony in advance.  You can provide more written testimony then two minutes worth – in that case you would just submit it via email to the Judiciary Committees clerk, or give the written documents to the clerk at the hearing.  Her name is Jeanie Lowell and her email is

If you would like to follow the bill: The bill is S.241 and the version that passed the Senate can be found here:   It is now in the House in House Judiciary where changes are almost certain.  You can follow the House Judiciary Committee’s work on this bill here:

If you decide to come and testify, please let me know – use my cell phone below 802-384-0233 Let me know if you have any questions!

VTel service and Municipal Connectivity Planning

The VTel Wireless project, WOW, was purportedly to design, engineer and construct a fixed wireless internet network for 57,000 homes and 3,700 businesses. This was one of two projects which received 116 million dollars in federal funds.  The second project, a fiber to the home project in the VTel phone coverage area is completed and working.  However, five and a half years later, neither my constituents working (for years on a volunteer basis for their rural town and fellow citizens) on this issue or my calls to VTel and the state Department of Public Service have been able to turn up address specific evidence from VTel that anyone in Vermont is being served by the VTel WOW project.
I am continuing to work to understand what has transpired, and why folks that were to have been covered by this project remain uncovered.  If you are currently a VTel customer in Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg,

Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro or Whitingham, I would very much like to hear from you as our towns begin to consider developing a “Plan B” for connectivity.

In the interim, my committee has sponsored H.870 which would require telecom companies to provide connectivity data to the Department of Public Service or forgo public funding for providing high cost telephone service. The bill also seeks to raise the Universal Service Fee by half a cent, all of which will be dedicated to a fund which is used to expand connectivity

Wardsboro VTel info meeting (from their Facebook page) 
WARDSBORO INFORMATION SESSION Join us Wednesday, March 30 from 6:00-8:00pm for an informational and sign-up session at Wardsboro Elementary School, 70 School Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355. We’ll have exclusive promotional offers as well as free cider and donuts! Learn more about our service at…/how-vtel-wireless-works

Whitingham connectivity meeting
A community wide public meeting with the Vermont Department of Public Service, Telecom and Connectivity Division and interested Whitingham  citizens is being scheduled for April 18th at 5:30 pm in the main hall of the Jacksonville Municipal Center.  The purpose of the meeting is to share data about existing broadband availability and broadband and cell projects and upcoming deployments happening in the Whitingham area. This public meeting will help inform the next steps in determining how Whitingham 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:

The meeting is open to the public.
Independent Contractors. In my last newsletter, I sent you information on H.867 which is an act related to the proper classification of employees and independent contractors.  This bill seeks to allow our workers, employers and entrepreneurs to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing economic delivery system. While it codifies in law that everyone is presumed to be an employee, it also adds a definition of what and an independent contractor is.   Read more about how you can determine if you can be an Independent Contractor, or if you are an employer the risks and benefits of hiring an Independent Contractor.  Our committee spent more then a month on this bill this session and passed it out with bi-partisan support 11-0.  I am hopeful that the full House will be able to vote on this bill this session.

A reminder that you can monitor the work my committee is doing and check in on how I am voting on issues by going to the legislature website

As always, I encourage folks to weigh in on issues that you care strongly about.  The best way to reach me is email at or cell at (802) 384-0233.  And if you are in Montpelier on business or to testify, give me a call and let me know if you’d like to try and meet.

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