Rep. Sibilia: May 10th update

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there. I hope you were able to connect with loved ones in a way that was meaningful for you today. With the opening up of small gatherings of less then 10 between family and friends that have been taking precautions – I was able to have both my mom and one of my daughters join the Goose City crew this morning for a careful breakfast. What a joy!

A reminder that the governor’s press conferences have been happening on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 am. Details follow below. Last Friday we learned that child care facilities would be reopening June 1st as would summer camps that can meet health and safety requirements. The Vermont Agency of Education also issued guidance on End of School Year Gatherings and Graduations.

Vermont is implementing a phased approach to reopening the economy, balancing the need to restore and strengthen our overall social and economic well being with the prevention of a resurgence of COVID-19 that would undermine or lose the important public health outcomes achieved to date. Here is information for business owners about that process.

For those still struggling with issues related to unemployment or assistance for self employed, please let me know so we can get your situation straightened out.

I’ve received several inquiries about the proposed Hazard Pay bill that passed the Senate. Vermonters who have been laid off due to the pandemic are receiving a federal unemployment benefit of $600 a week – on top of their regular unemployment benefit. That equates to a $30,000 annual salary on top of the unemployment benefit. A reminder for Vermonters who were laid off at the beginning of the state of emergency: Unemployment claimants called back must accept suitable work.

The state hazard pay benefit being contemplated has passed the Senate and still must pass the House. In addition, it is being funded with federal COVID-19 relief funds. There are restrictions on how those relief funds can be used, for instance, thus far it appears they can not be used to fill budget gaps but may be used for this type of proposed hazard pay.

Hazard pay is intended for essential workers below a certain wage threshold, this proposed monthly hazard pay grant of $1000 a month (equivalent to $12,000 a year) is an acknowledgment that folks who have been laid off are being compensated more then minimum wage folks whose jobs are essential and who can not leave their positions.

The proposed cut off for the the essential workers to receive this hazard pay is for those who currently make less then $25 an hour or $52,000 annually. For perspective on some of the average wages for essential workers: in the U.S. the average cashier makes $20,000 a year, the average police officer makes $51,000, the average nurse makes $70,000 a year.

The current language and listing of essential jobs currently proposed for hazard pay can be found in the current version of the bill

Here is a refresher on when you should and shouldn’t wear a cloth mask from the Department of Health. And a reminder that we are asked to wear masks to prevent others from getting sick because of us, not to protect ourselves. This weekend I heard from a constituent who was concerned about this article Vermonters Are Watching Their Neighbors — and Reporting Them. My constituent was incredulous that Vermonters would call law enforcement when other Vermonters or visitors were not following the Governor’s Executive orders, or following health and safety guidelines. I have heard from other constituents who are enraged when encountering others without masks on at the grocery store or in the post office. Going into a grocery store or other essential service without a mask on is viewed by many as blowing your nose into your hands and then offering to shake hands with the closest passerby. Sure, it’s not illegal, but it causes others to fear for their health, and is viewed as being disrespectful. If you can’t find a mask – let me know, I would be happy to help locate several for you.

This week I’m going to shift my coffee hour online sessions to accommodate a larger group of constituents – I will continue with Monday and Friday at 7 am for the early birds and will be shifting to Wednesday late afternoon/evening at 5:30 pm for those who may find it more convenient to meet later in the day.

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

Coffee with Laura call at 7 am Monday and Friday | 5:30 pm on Wednesday. You can join that call here:

For more information on:

Deerfield Valley Fiber

Annual Meeting of the Deerfield Valley CUD this Tuesday May 12th at 5 PM. The Towns of Dover and Stamford have recently voted to join the district for a total on 9 towns.

Governor Scott Press Conference:

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

Monday May 11th 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:

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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