Rep. Sibilia running for re-election to Vermont House

May 16, 2016

Dear friends and neighbors,

Serving my first two years as your representative in the Vermont House has been a privilege and an honor.  As an educationpanelindependent freshman legislator, unaffiliated with a political party, the learning curve was occasionally steep, always interesting and endlessly inspiring.  On your behalf, I worked hard every day to learn the legislative process, forge productive relationships with my colleagues, and use my experience and voice to assist our district, our neighbors, and our state.

My work ethic and willingness to work across the political spectrum on state and local challenges allowed me to be more effective than might otherwise be expected of an independent freshmen.  Regulatory initiatives I took a leadership or shared leadership role in include:

  • The Vermont House, as a body, has requested a federal audit of VTel federal telecom awards to determine why services promised to tens of thousands of Vermonters have not been delivered, especially in Southern Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom
  • Ensuring our towns have a representative to the state working group considering a purchase of thirteen TransCanada dams
  • Creation of a Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone and initiative to fund deepening economic development collaboration between Windham and Bennington Counties
  • Worked with other House and Senate colleagues to extend developing work on state budget accountability practices and metrics
  • Preventing an expedited, top down,  regional form of municipal governance from being imposed prior to gauging local municipal demand for regional government
  • Requiring a study of the adequate cost of providing an education to a Vermont student which has led to development of significant special education cost savings proposals
  • Ensuring that education cost containment measures were both meaningful and fair in that they required financial restraint from schools of all sizes, and not exclusively our smallest rural schools

There are numerous ongoing challenges that need significant work including ensuring health reform initiatives are functioning and properly budgeted for, monitoring the educational governance changes envisioned as part of Act 46 to make sure they  result in improved and equitable opportunities for all Vermont students and continuing to push for real property tax reform measures.  In addition, we need to prioritize the development of a continuous assessment, development, and investment program for connectivity for all Vermonters.  Future opportunity for existing and new Vermonters relies on our ability to sustain and grow a globally connected and low environmental impact economy.

salwayNext year will see a historical change in leadership of state government with a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Senate President, and many long time House members retiring. I am running for re-election to the Windham-Bennington House seat and hope to work with this new leadership on these and other issues important to our district and to the state.   Over the course of the election season I look forward to being out in our towns and at local events hoping to hear from you on the issues most important to you, your family and your business.  You can keep track of what I am working on, or where I will be on my website http://www.laurasibiliavt.com and social media.

Thank you for your support, your questions and the knowledge you shared with me, about issues you care about, during the past two years.  As always, please be in touch with questions, comments or if I may be able to assist you in navigating our government systems for solutions to challenges at lhsibilia@gmail.com or cell 802-384-0233.

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3 thoughts on “Rep. Sibilia running for re-election to Vermont House

  1. Hi Laura, regrettably I must disagree that you played any constructive role regarding Vermont Telephone and VTel Wireless, in our statewide $115 rollout of wireless broadband to unserved rural communities, that now reaches an estimated 98% of all previously unserved homes. To the contrary I regret to say that never, in the 24 years since founding VTel, and after making Springfield, Chester, Wallingford, Killington and our other rural towns the fastest Internet-speed communities in Vermont, have I encountered anyone so intensely focused on malice and factual error, with so great a tendency to duck and hide when politely asked to reconsider these factual errors.

    • Thanks for your comment Dr. Guite. I remain hopeful that eventually, with enough encouragement, you may agree to cooperate with state officials so that we can plan appropriately for real coverage of all Vermonters, as pledged by multiple Administrations.

      • Hi Laura, thank you this opportunity to reply to you.

        You introduced yourself to VTel by an attack two or three weeks ago, but your attack resulted from your admirable desire to do your own broadband research, which is really excellent. I wish others followed your example.

        Regrettably, however, you misread the two research documents you relied on.

        Worry not! Errors in reading documents happen to everyone. Nonetheless, in your case, and because Vermont is a small state with few federal and state elected politicians, and regulators, and our Governor, working closely, your unintentional and well-intended error lit a costly bonfire. This bonfire, sadly, was celebrated by these same Vermont legislators, and regulators, and VT Digger, who do less research than you. But let’s talk about it.

        You started by reading a confidential April, 2016, DPS consultant report listing some 36,000 Vermont homes without adequate DSL, written by data analysts seeking Connect America federal funds to improve Vermont DSL. You incorrectly thought you were seeing a list of all Vermont homes without Internet. It was an easy mistake to make.

        Then you read VTel’s 2010 RUS wireless application summary, promising to serve some 33,000 unserved Vermont rural homes.

        But then you connected the dots in error, concluding somewhat passionately that the 36,000 Vermont homes needing telephone DSL upgrades, and the 33,000 VTel 2010 homes with no Internet, were the same homes, in the same census blocks VTel had promised to serve. They were not. Not even close.

        But then you went a step beyond careful research, leaping into a sort of ecstatic, no-parachute, “Watch Momma everyone!” insane jump, accusing VTel of never building its $35 million wireless network, and asserting that VTel’s 1,000 early innovator customers proved the network was a mirage, and suggesting VTel has perhaps done a Jay Peak on everyone!

        The Internet coverage data you correctly and reasonably and boldly set out to find, Laura, is very readily available. We at VTel would be pleased to help you, or anyone, collect and analyze it. A good place to begin – as you initially sought to do – is the DPS Connect America Fund wireline telco DSL report. Then we can show you how to overlay FCC wireless census block data, provided to the DPS by VTel Wireless and by US Cellular. Then we can help you overlay the same public FCC data from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Then we can show you cable TV. The result will give you, your constituents, the DPS, the legislature, and anyone who wants to see it, a rich map of all wired and wireless, DSL and cable TV, little Wi-Fi providers and wireless giants, fixed and mobile, Internet availability for all of Vermont.

        VTel Wireless serves about 95% of all the census blocks we promised to serve, but the “right answer” has to extend beyond VTel Wireless, to a statewide effort to integrate all the public data available.

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