Rep. Sibilia: Week 12 of the 2019 Vermont legislative session

This week saw passage of Paid Family and Medical Leave in the House, and a Constitutional Amendment Declaration of rights; right to personal reproductive liberty in the Senate.

I voted yes to support a more modest proposal then the one put forward by the majority on the Paid Family Leave Bill . Rep. Browning’s proposal would have made the program voluntary to begin with and would have provided an opportunity to work out challenges with the new program with less impact to the system or employees. Unfortunately this amendment failed. I ultimately voted no on the whole bill.

Though I support the notion of creating a limited insurance program to help families in emergency healthcare situations, and several states have programs, this bill provided up to 12 weeks of leave every year if you earned wages in at least six months of the previous 4 quarters and was a mandatory payroll tax. Vermont’s healthcare program – passionately advocated for in the last decade – was implemented too much with too many details to be worked out and is in need of both funding and restructuring of elements. I explained my no vote as follows:

“I can not support a new 80 million dollar payroll tax for a new insurance program when our existing healthcare system is under such stress, particularly in rural Vermont. This body this year has failed to address that growing financial stress in our healthcare system.”

There will be another public hearing in the House next week on the Constitutional Amendment proposing to guarantee Vermonter’s access to abortion services. Details on how to testify are linked below.

VTDigger: Statewide paid family leave program wins House approval

Whitingham’s Jazmine Dix thanked for her six week service as a Legislative Page. The program is open to eighth graders through out the state. Application and contact info can be found here

“This will have a profound effect on gay and lesbian Vermonters and our family and friends,” he said. “But this is really a triumph of people who care about our well-being.”

– Vermont Rep. Bill Lippert on April 7, 2009 after the legislative vote to override the veto of the Marriage Equality Act. It has been a decade since the legislation passed in Vermont

Vermont Fuel Tank Rebate Program

The Vermont Fuel Tank Rebate Program is back in 2019.

The goal of the program is to encourage Vermonters to get their tanks inspected and ensure they are in compliance with Vermont’s minimum safety standards. A Vermont fuel oil consumer that replaces a non-compliant tank with a compliant tank will qualify for a $250 rebate. 

Details on how to qualify for a tank rebate and more information about Vermont’s Fuel Oil Tank Regulations can be found at

Daffodils are coming! A sure sign that the legislative session is approaching the final 6 weeks

The Senate’s proposed amendment to H. 39: The extension of the deadline of school district mergers required by the State Board of Education would have allowed non-merged boards recommended by the State Board of Education an extension if they formed their new merged boards. This was not agreed to by the House which provided limited extensions for those boards who have not yet merged as recommended by the State Board of Education and has gone to a conference committee.

S.40 An act relating to testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and child care facilities is currently in the House Human Services Committee. Concern about unknown, unbudgeted and immediate costs is high…

“Even with full funding of the estimated program costs, responding entities may be faced with unforeseen immediate and future costs. While the program funds the first round of testing and specific forms of remediation, it is silent on who pays the costs of future testing and does not address certain forms of remediation not anticipated by the bill.

In order that this initiative be treated as a program of the highest priority, and in order that it be fully implemented on a reasonable timeline, the State of Vermont should provide full state funding. To do otherwise may perpetuate social inequities and introduce an array of other considerations that will impede timely progress on the initiative and not treat the program as the priority that it is. State funding of this important program is a sound investment in Vermont’s future. The direct economic, individual, and societal costs of lead poisoning far outweigh the estimated costs associated with testing and remediation.”

Let’s Grow Kids, Voices for Vermont’s Children, Vermont Association of School Business Officials, Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance, Vermont Independent Schools Association, Vermont Principals’ Association, Vermont School Boards Association, Vermont Superintendents Association, Vermont League of Cities and Towns

Climate Change

Extreme Weather – Climate Assessment

We have a number of bills that have been introduced in my committee related to trying to limit the effects of climate change on Vermonters. Many are anxious about Climate Change and not sure how or if we can protect ourselves. As we discuss the various bills in my committee, I’m going to share information that I’m considering as I think about how we can protect Vermonter’s.

This week that is two things:

  1. Various Vermont utilities who track weather events and outages have testified that our rain storms have become stronger and more frequent. The graph above is from a report tracking U.S. weather trends. This has me questioning why we are not talking more about protecting our infrastructure
  2. The State of Vermont has a Climate Change website. It is not part of any program that is tasked with maintaining the data. Vermont is also tracking Vermont’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

I attended the hearing on S.169 – a Senate bill proposing 24 hour waiting periods for handguns. Several folks have asked how I plan to vote on the bill which yet to emerge from House Judiciary. If a bill comes out of House Judiciary, I will carefully consider what is proposed. Thank you to all who took the time to come and testify.

next week

Public hearing on Proposal 5, proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Vermont regarding personal reproductive liberty

The House Committee on Human Services will hold a public hearing on Proposal 5, a proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution regarding personal reproductive liberty, on Wednesday, April 17, from 5:00–7:00 p.m. The hearing will take place in the House Chamber at the State House in Montpelier. Seating is limited. Sign-up to speak will begin at 4:15 p.m. Witness testimony will be limited to two minutes.

The Committee will also accept written testimony at the following e-mail address: Please indicate in the subject line, “Proposal 5 Public Comment”.

If you plan to attend and need accommodations to participate, please contact the Sergeant at Arms at 802-828-2228 by April 11 so arrangements can be made in advance.

House Rural Economic Development Working Group

A “riglet” course for youth snowboarding was set up on the statehouse lawn Wednesday as part of Tourism Day in the legislature. The House Rural Economic Development working Group met with tourism and recreational interests prior to a full day of activities.

In the news:

Click here to monitor the bills I introduce, my committees work and my votes on roll call votes on the legislative website. You can also see what the House and Senate will be taking up each day and listen to proceedings live on VPR.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or

Kind regards,

Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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