Rep. Sibilia: April 23

Thank you to those who have sent me emails with their contact information and the trouble they are experiencing with getting through to the Department of Labor. I did for ward the current list of names and details in today and will check back on Monday if problems are still existing. I heard from one individual that there were concerns folks did not have food. Please call me right away if you know of an individual who does not have food or shelter. There is also now a statewide feeding plan. The Vermont Food Bank and the Vermont National Guard are partnering to provide meals for pick up at several sites. If you are sick someone else can pick up food for you.

Friday, April 24: Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport: 1002 Airport Road, North Clarendon

Monday, April 27: Hartness State Airport: 15 Airport Road, North Springfield

Tuesday, April 18: William H. Morse State Airport: 1563 Walloomsac Road, Bennington

Wednesday, April 29: Northeast Kingdom International Airport: 2628 Airport Road, Newport

I am expecting more announcements from the Governor tomorrow during his press conference at 11.

Governor Scott Press Conference:

Following remarks, the Governor and administration officials will be available for questions from members of the media.

Friday April 24th at 11:00 a.m.

GENERAL PUBLIC VIEWING:Most Vermont TV and radio stations live broadcast the briefings. The Governor’s media briefing will be available to stream through ORCA Media’s youtube channel, linked here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-xsDpLCa0iRMj4dQrqum7uoXaQmqeGvT

Today the Vermont House began meeting again. This was both a relief that we could work on legislation to help during this time, and a challenge. This is my sixth year representing our district in the House, and the nervousness I felt today about doing the job was reminiscent of my first year. It is an honor and a tremendous responsibility to try to represent all of the varied voices in our district, and I take the job very seriously. Working to learn a new way of interacting with other legislators, accessing information, having enough time to ask questions and being in session live is a whole new set of skills. I think overall it went well.

The first official session of the Vermont House of Representatives was held this morning. The first act was to approve a change to House Rules to allow members to vote remotely.

Our immediate goals were to take up bills needed to deal with the effects of the pandemic which included: voting to change our rules so we could vote virtually, allowing for an expansion of the regular period of time the Treasurer can borrow between funds to pay bills, allowing for wills to be done virtually.

The House has multiple ways members can vote. This screenshot shows what the ever bridge app looks like after members have voted. This is akin to voice votes we would tak in the chamber where the votes are anonymous. There are also roll calls where every members name is called and they must say yes or no to the question. Those votes take a lot more time and the individual votes are recorded and you can see when you look up a bill.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow morning at my coffee hour at 7 am.

Coffee with Laura call at 7 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can join that call here:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/734376857?pwd=Z1BmNmlwcWxJMWxVZTFaZE96MmlQQT09

Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Password: 003089 or by calling mobile
+16465588656,,734376857# US (New York)
+13126266799,,734376857# US (Chicago)


Bookmark for updates:
Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019


Today’s question was:

  • Q It’s hard to trust politicians anymore. Is it constitutional for the legislature to vote remotely?
  • A After consulting with the legislator’s attorneys,148 Republicans, independents, Democrats and Progressives believed this was constitutional and voted to allow remove voting, no votes opposed. If a member of the public believes that the legislative branch has taken an action that violates the state constitution, they are able to ask the judicial branch of government to intervene. And luckily Vermonter’s don’t have to trust, they can verify by reading the bill, watching the floor procedures and the voting. https://legislature.vermont.gov/
How the Constitution is upheld.


For kids and other learners

A simple and engaging way to weave learning into outdoor wandering — while also maintaining distance from others — is to sign up for the Vermont Spring Backyard BioBlitz. This new project, sponsored by the North Branch Nature Center, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the Vermont Alliance for Half-Earth, was created to meet the requests of local teachers looking for creative ways to engage students in science right outside their homes.

From April 20 to May 20, project participants can submit photos of any wild organism — no pets or garden plants — along with information about where and when they saw it, to the BioBlitz. This month, the project aims to collect observations of Vermont’s springtime biodiversity.

The Department of Financial Regulation Approves Additional Plans to Refund Auto Insurance Premiums, Saving Vermonters Over $14 Million

Montpelier, VT – Governor Phil Scott and Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) Commissioner Michael Pieciak today announced that more than forty additional auto insurance companies have filed plans to return premiums or reduce their rates for Vermont policyholders. DFR has moved quickly to approve these plans which amount to over $14.6 million in savings for Vermonters to date.

All Vermont-based auto insurance companies, along with most major out-of-state insurers, have developed refund plans for Vermonters, which combined, represent approximately 90% of all personal auto policies in Vermont. Each of these insurers has seen a reduction in claims as Vermonters do their part to stay home to comply with the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe directive.

“I’m grateful the insurance industry is acknowledging the reduced risk of auto claims as a result of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order,” said Governor Scott. “These reduced rates provide additional relief at a critical time for many Vermonters, and I appreciate the Department of Financial Regulation’s ongoing work with industries to help save Vermonters money.”

The premium savings will vary depending on the company; however, most Vermonters can expect to receive a credit on their auto insurance statement, a refund check or a reduced rate when renewing their policy. At this time, most relief will be in the range of 15-20% for a period of two or three months.

Two Vermont-based insurers, Vermont Mutual and the Cooperative Insurance Company, will also provide auto-insurance customers with the choice to donate their refund to one of several charities assisting with local COVID-19 relief efforts. A third Vermont-based insurer, Union Mutual, has partnered with local businesses to provide food for the homeless, as well as for medical workers and nursing home staff members in Vermont.

“I really appreciate these insurers stepping-up to provide premium relief during this challenging time,” said Commissioner Pieciak. “I am particularly pleased that our Vermont-based insurers established these innovative pay-it-forward options for worthy charities confronting the COVID-19 crisis.” 

Commissioner Pieciak continues to encourage insurance companies to determine whether Vermonters are overpaying and promptly file a plan with DFR if that is the case. For a list of insurance companies with DFR-approved premium savings plans, please visit https://dfr.vermont.gov/document/dfr-approves-several-insurer-plans-refund-auto-insurance-premiums.

DFR’s approval also provides flexibility to further reduce premiums if similar driving habits continue. As the pandemic evolves, DFR will continue to monitor insurers’ experience and finances to ensure that Vermonters’ rates are not excessive compared to changing risks.

Connect with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation on Twitter, Facebook, and on its website.


Department of Labor Announces Implementation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for Vermonters

Montpelier – The Vermont Department of Labor announces that Vermonters who were not previously eligible for unemployment insurance benefits may now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA eligible Vermonters include self-employed workers, independent contractors, and other individuals who are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance.

The Department of Labor and Agency of Digital Services have collaborated in the creation of the new PUA system making Vermont one of just a few states to stand up a complete PUA program. 

“We are pleased to provide this brand-new system for those who have not been able to receive traditional unemployment,” said Interim Commissioner Michael Harrington. “We know many Vermonters are still struggling, so getting this system up and running for this population is a big step forward in getting benefits into the hands of those impacted by this public health crisis.”

If approved for PUA, claimants must continue to file weekly claims for each week they are unemployed and wish to receive benefits. Failure to do so will result in delayed payment. Eligible PUA claimants will be able to file and receive past benefits, dating back to the week of March 15, 2020.

Weekly benefit amounts will be determined by 2019 earnings. Individuals that are eligible for PUA are also eligible for the additional $600 weekly benefit through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides the additional benefit through July 25, 2020.

Claimants can easily choose their preferred payment method (direct deposit or check), choose to have taxes withheld, or make other profile changes by using the online PUA Dashboard. 

More information on the PUA application process and eligibility can be found at https://labor.vermont.gov/pua. For additional information and updates on the Vermont Department of Labor, please visit labor.vermont.gov.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us 

Kind regards, 

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s