Read my latest OpEd on the coming legislative session, what I think it will hold and what I will be focusing on, particularly as it relates to Climate Change.
This past month Rep. John Gannon and I met with many of our emergency managers and town representatives to hear from Green Mount Power on what they are seeing in terms of climate change impacts, increased rainfall and intense storms and what it means for keeping the lights on.
It’s really inspiring to see many of our rural towns moving forward and blazing a path for their towns in terms of communications infrastructure. In our district Stamford, Readsboro and Whitingham have already been meeting on a possible Communications Union District with Whitingham, Halifax and Wilmington and Dover and Wardsboro have expressed interest in future efforts.
Slower take rates for public charging, electric vehicles, heat pumps and battery storage could leave rural communities holding the bag on supporting aging infrastructure – just like we have seen with out telephone lines. I’m focusing on making sure Vermont has the capacity and technical assistance needed to ensure our rural towns don’t get left behind as our country and state transition to more electricity use for transportation and heating needs.
This year’s legislative session begins on Tuesday January 7th and will likely run through mid-May. I will be serving as the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Technology Committee, the Chair of the Joint IT Oversight Committee, Co-Chair of the House Rural Economic Development Working Group and as a member of the House Ethics Panel.
Fastest contact during the session: Sgt-At-Arms Office 802-828-2228 or by cell 802-384-0233.
Take the Deerfield Valley 2020 Legislative Survey and let us know your thoughts on what issues should be prioritized by the Vermont Legislature in 2020
Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities Grant
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced the availability of a new round of funding through the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities Grant Program to help Vermont communities use outdoor recreation opportunities to grow their local economies. The program will again award grants ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 to Vermont towns, villages or cities to support development of “outdoor recreation friendly” communities. read more
Legislative Briefing on the Economy, Clean Water, and Transportation
The legislature gathers a month before the start of the legislative session to hear updates from agency heads and our state economist on our financial situation and updates on significant policies. Below are the presentations we were shown.
Clean Water Update by Julie Moore, Secretary, Agency of Natural Resources | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
Transportation Climate Initiative by Julie Moore, Secretary, Agency of Natural Resources | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
Act 59 of 2019 – Transportation InitiativesTransportation Bill (Act 59) by Anthea Dexter-Cooper, Legislative Counsel, Office of the Legislative Council | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
Climate & Energy Implementation Activities by Daniel D. Dutcher, Senior Environmental Policy Manager, Agency of Natural Resources | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
Revenue & Economic Update – (6.1 MB File) by Tom Kavet, Legislature’s Economist, Kavet, Rockler & Associates | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
FY 2020 Budget Context by Stephen Klein, Chief Fiscal Officer, Joint Fiscal Office | Legislative Briefing – December 4, 2019
Property tax letter from the Commissioner of Taxes
On December 1st Vermont’s Tax Commissioner is statutorily required to send out a letter regarding the anticipated education tax rates for the coming year. This year’s letter indicates:
Statewide education spending is forecast to grow by $71.5 million while the equalized pupil count is projected to decline by 427, creating a 5.53% increase in average equalized per pupil spending. This rate of growth is nearly double the expected growth in tax year 2020 property values (3%) or income (2.5%), and is the primary cause of the projected rate increase. Because of the forecasted increases to education spending, coupled with property value appreciation and income growth, the average bill across the state would increase by more than 6%.Acting Commissioner Vermont Department of Taxes Craig Bolio
It is important to also note that a long awaited analysis of student counts, critical to ensuring education spending cuts do not more heavily penalize poor and rural students, has been delayed. In discussions with the Scott Administration, it appears this delay will be short in nature. I join most Vermonters in wanting to see appropriate measures of cutting spending – but these cuts must be predicated by corrected student weights.
This year I am working with other Republican and Democratic legislators to re-introduce legislation requiring Vermont high school seniors pass the U.S. Citizenship test prior to graduating. There is no greater defense of our country then the people’s understanding of its founding documents, structure, function and limitations. Immigrants must pass an oral test of 10 questions as part of gaining American citizenship. Those 10 questions are drawn from this list of 100 questions provided on . Check it out and see how you do!
Vermont Health Connect Open Enrollment ends December 15th
Open Enrollment is the time each year when any Vermonter can enroll in a Qualified Health Plan through Vermont Health Connect. If you’re already enrolled in coverage through Vermont Health Connect, Open Enrollment is the time when you can change plans.
The Office of the Health Care Advocate is a free resource for you. They can help all Vermonters with Open Enrollment questions or with problems related to health care. Call 1-800-917-7787 or email HCA@VTLegalAid.org to speak with a Health Care Advocate. Learn more: https://vtlawhelp.org/open-enrollment-2020
Rural Economic Development Working Group Hearing this week
The Rural Economic Development Working Group (REDWnG) of the Vermont House of Representatives invites Vermonters to share thoughts on how to sustain and grow the economy in rural areas of the state.
- When: Wednesday, December 11th, 6-8pm.
- Where: Room 11, Vermont Statehouse, Montpelier, Vermont.
- Who: Vermonters with constructive ideas to share.
In 2017 RDWnG hosted a public hearing before the start of the 2018 legislative session. As a result of the hearing, members of RDWnG proposed or supported legislation that: helped lower worker’s compensation rates for the logging industry; dramatically increased support for community based high speed internet projects; provided funding for small community wastewater systems; increased funding for Working Lands [farm, food and forest] enterprises; funded a grant-writing specialist to assist in obtaining grants for town and community initiatives; to name a few.
Once again we need to hear from you! We’re looking for constructive ideas and insights from rural Vermonters as to what can be done legislatively to help grow and sustain your economies. This hearing will provide insight and perspective that will help guide the work of REDWnG and the Legislature in the upcoming session and beyond. So please come join us on December 11th at the Statehouse and share your thoughts.
We’ll have oral testimony (don’t let the word scare you. Just talk to us.) starting at 6:00 PM. Each person will be limited to 4 minutes. We’d love to get written testimony as well (or instead), of any length, and this will be shared with all members of REDWnG. Send written testimony to State Representative Charlie Kimbell at email@example.com.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Laura Sibilia