“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Wednesday January 3rd the 2017 Legislative Session opened. Among the first items to take place were elections of new leaders for the Vermont Legislature. In the House, Rep. Mitzi Johnson of South Hero was elected to serve as the new Speaker of the House. In the last biennium, Rep. Johnson was the Chair of House Appropriations.
The Speaker assigns all members of the house to various committees which is where the bulk of our work is done during the legislative session. This year a few of the committees were modified, and a new committee focusing on Energy and Technology was created. This committee will have jurisdiction over both the Public Service Board and the Department of Public Service, energy, IT projects, and telecommunications. This is the committee I will serve on for the next two years. I’m really pleased we now have a committee tasked with focusing on state technology infrastructure and Vermonters telecommunications needs.
Issues that look likely to receive some attention this year include financing water quality improvements, health care finance, universal
background checks, State Board of Education rule-making authority, marijuana decriminalization, paid family leave, Act 46 timelines, Housing and 10 yr telecom plan. We’ll know in May which of these or other issues were able to move through the legislative bodies.
I have been spending much of my time on local transportation challenges, broadband and cell access, government transparency and school finance issues in our district, region and state.
Just after the election I was honored to be asked to Co-Chair an advisory committee for incoming Governor Phil Scott. This committees charge was to assist in bringing forward names of individuals who shared Governor Scott’s vision of affordability and service to work in his administration. Hundreds of names were placed into consideration and the new cabinet is filling out. There are also a number of Boards and Commissions posts to be filled in the coming year. If you are interested in serving in one of those posts, more information is available here: http://governor.vermont.gov/boards-commissions
Governor Phil Scott will propose a budget on January 24th. Just after being sworn in, he signed four executive orders, establishing his strategic priorities, and creating teams in support of his efforts to address the opiate epidemic and modernize state government.
Executive Order 01-17, “Governor’s Strategic Goals,” directs all State agencies and departments to utilize their powers, duties and programs to establish strengthening the Vermont economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting vulnerable Vermonters, as cornerstones of their strategic and operational goals.
Executive Order 02-17, establishes the Opiate Coordination Council and also creates the position of Director of Drug Policy, who will act as the executive director of the Council to support, coordinate and monitor its progress.
Executive Order 03-17 established the Government Modernization and Efficiency Team (GMET). Executive Order 04-17 created the Program to Improve Vermonter Outcomes Together (PIVOT), which will be tasked with implementing and tracking progress of the
recommendations issued by GMET.
The Dover, Marlboro, Wardsboro merger study committee is in the midst of hosting a number of public meetings. These are important opportunities for our taxpayers, parents and students to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed merger in advance of a vote at this year’s Town Meeting. The public hearing dates are open to anyone from the any of the towns:
- January 12 6:30pm – 8pm Marlboro Elementary School
- January 19 6:30pm – 8pm Dover Town Hall
- January 23 6:30pm – 8pm Wardsboro Town Hall
- February 2 6:30pm – 8pm Wardsboro Town Hall
- February 13 6:30pm – 8pm Marlboro Elementary School
- February 27 6:30pm – 8pm Dover Town Hall
I am honored to represent you in the Vermont Legislature. In order to do so effectively, I need to hear from you about ideas, issues or opportunities. My cell phone is 802-384-0233 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.