Rep. Sibilia: January 30th 2021 update

This week the governor put forward his proposal for the FY 22 budget. The next steps are for the House to consider and make its recommendations and then for the Senate to consider and make their reccome4ndations. Usually the legislative session ends when the negotiations end and budget is agreed to by the governor, the house and the senate.

Good evening,

This week the began with legislature hearing from Governor Scott on his proposed budget for the coming FY ’22 year. The governor has proposed using $210 million in one-time funding for economic recovery through investments in housing, infrastructure, broadband buildout, environmental stewardship, carbon reducing initiatives, and government modernization.

The week finished with the passage by both the House and Senate of the FY ’21 Budget Adjustment Act. The Budget Adjustment Act is a mid-year adjustment to keep the current year (FY 2021) budget in balance and continue pandemic response. This FY 2021 Budget Adjustment bill addresses several issues resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic and is supported with Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), FEMA funds, federal funds, and carry forward funds. Highlights of the changes.

In my House Energy and Technology Committee, we began work on a comprehensive committee bill to support CUDS and other publicly regulated entities in building out broadband to the last mile. The broad goals of this bill are to provide implementation and financial support to build out the work Vermont’s 8 CUDs have developed and are developing, to incentive the private sector to work in partnership with our CUDs and to direct public funds only to CUDs. Governor Scott included 20 million dollars in his budget for the buildout of broadband and we will also seek to expand the lending pool at VEDA for favorable loans to CUDS.

I’m once again advising those who have lose landline phone service to report that to Consolidated right away. If it is not fixed within 24 hours let the Department of Service know, send me an email, and consider sending the House Energy and Technology Clerk an email at mgrimo@leg.state.vt.us. This will be shared with all committee members and hosted on our website and become part of the public record. Thanks to the vigilance of Dover first responders, the state learned that 911 services were down for a substantial period of time at multiple locations in our district. Even if you believe are fine without your landline phone, it may be the only means of communication for your elderly or infirm neighbor – please report outages as soon as you can.

This week the House Education Committee took testimony on H.54 An act relating to adjusting the existing weighting factors, and adding new weighting factors, used to calculate equalized pupils and the Senate took testimony on S.13 An act relating to the implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report. Some of our regional schoolboards have joined a statewide coalition of school districts of all sizes that is working to see the corrected weights implemented.

“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to Farce or Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” “There is but one method of rendering a republican form of government durable, and that is by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge through every part of the state by means of proper places and modes of education and this can be done effectively only by the aid of the legislature.”

Benjamin Rush (January 4, 1746 [O.S. December 24, 1745] – April 19, 1813) was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and a civic leader in Philadelphia, where he was a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, and educator and the founder of Dickinson College.

Are you trying to help a neighbor or family member register for the vaccine?

Another of our wonderful Wardsboro neighbors and volunteer has created a step by step guide for helping guide someone with the vaccine registration process. Remember, when you do get vaccinated, it takes time for the vaccine to train your body to fight COVID-19, so you may not be protected by the vaccine until a few weeks after your second dose. This is similar to the flu vaccine, which can take up to two weeks to be fully effective. In the meantime, keep up all the same precautions including wearing a mask,
keeping a distance from people you don’t live with, and avoiding gatherings and travel.

From Department of Health:


Public Input Sought on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2022 State Budget

The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are seeking public input on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2022 State Budget and will hold two public hearings on Monday, February 8, 2021 – at 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (2:30 p.m.) and repeated at 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (7:30 p.m.) via videoconference. Anyone interested in testifying should sign up in advance of the hearing through the following online form: https://legislature.vermont.gov/links/public-hearing-fy22-budget no later than Friday, February 5, 2021. Instructions on how to access and participate in the hearing will be sent once you have signed up for the hearing. There may be time limits on testimony, depending on the volume of participants—expect a time range of 2–3 minutes. The public hearings will be available to watch live on YouTube at the following link: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/streaming/vermont-joint-fiscal or on your local Vermont Access community cable channel. You can find your local channel at the following link: https://vermontaccess.net/amo/.

For more information about the format of these events, contact Theresa Utton-Jerman at tutton@leg.state.vt.us or Chrissy Gilhuly at cgilhuly@leg.state.vt.us or call 802-828-2295 or toll-free within Vermont at 1-800-322-5616 (responses to phone calls may be delayed). Written testimony can be submitted electronically to Theresa or Chrissy through e-mail or mailed to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, c/o Joint Fiscal Office, 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05633.


Identity Theft Alert – Department of Labor

Since the passage of the CARES Act Extension legislation, there has been an uptick in fraudulent claims being filed with the Department of Labor. Especially, claims involving stolen identities. Vermonters should remain vigilant and if they believe they have been the victim of identity theft resulting in a fraudulent claim being filed using their personal information, they should either contact our UI Fraud Tip Line at 802-828-4104 or submit an online fraud report at https://labor.vermont.gov/form/report- ui-fraud. It is important to note that our fraud unit handles thousands of claims each week making impossible for them to contact every individual who files a report. Individuals should expect to hear back from the Department only if more information is needed. After submitting a report to the Department, our team will review the report and stop any illegitimate claims. Victims of UI fraud are not held liable for any benefits that are paid to the fraudulent filer, nor will the fraudulent claim impact their credit score/report.

For individuals who have fallen victim to identity theft, more information can be found at the Federal Trade Commission’s website (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/). Additionally, individuals can file an identity theft report online with the FTC at https://www.identitytheft.gov/.


Bills Enacted by the Vermont Legislature

H.1381/29/2021An act relating to fiscal year 2021 budget adjustments
Awaiting the governor’s signature. The Budget Adjustment Act is a mid-year adjustment to keep the current year (FY 2021) budget in balance and continue pandemic response. This bill addresses several issues resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic and is supported with Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), FEMA funds, federal funds, and carry forward funds. Highlights of the changes

New Bills/Resolutions Rep. Sibilia is sponsoring

H.128An act relating to limiting criminal defenses based on victim identity

The LGBTQ+ “panic” defense strategy is a legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction, including murder. This bill proposes to prohibit a defendant in a criminal proceeding from using information about the victim’s actual or perceived gender identity to justify the criminal conduct of the defendant or mitigate the severity of the offense.


H.143An act relating to increasing special education State aid for prekindergarten students

This bill proposes to require the State to provide the same level of State aid for special education to a prekindergarten student as it provides to a student in kindergarten through grade 12.


H.146An act relating to the definition of household income for the purposes of the property tax credit

This bill proposes to exempt disability and pension income for veterans who are permanently and totally disabled from the calculation of household income for the purpose of determining the income sensitivity property tax credit.


H.147An act relating to exempting State active duty subsistence and quarters allowance paid to members of the National Guard

This bill proposes to exempt the State active duty subsistence and quarters allowance paid to members of the National Guard from income tax in Vermont.

All bills introduced in the 21/22 biennium have until the end of next year’s session to pass.
See all bills I have sponsored this biennium and all roll call votes

Vermont’s Legislative Reapportionment Process is Underway

Pursuant to federal and State constitutional requirements regarding equality of representation, the Vermont General Assembly reapportions legislative districts at least once every ten years following the taking of the U.S. Census.  The reapportionment process is codified in 17 V.S.A. chapter 34A.  

Current senatorial districts are set forth in 17 V.S.A. chapter 33, and current representative districts are set forth in 17 V.S.A. chapter 34.

Census Numbers For Dividing Up House Seats Delayed Until April 30, Bureau Says
A U.S. census worker sits in the plaza of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City in September. The Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the first results of the 2020 census are expected to be released by April 30.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

With the national debate about how people should be counted, there is now a delay in census counts.

The Constitution requires that the U.S. population be counted every 10 years in order to determine the number of representatives each state should have and to distribute federal funds.

As America’s population has grown, how the census is conducted has evolved. In 1940, the Census Bureau, for the first time, used sampling as a way to get more detailed information about the population without overburdening all residents with too many questions. That year it sent additional questions to just 5 percent of the population and used statistical techniques to broaden the results. By 1970, the bureau was sending out a short-form questionnaire to every U.S. household and a long-form supplement with more detailed questions to a fraction of U.S. households.

Under Chapter I, Article 7 and Chapter II, Sections 13, 18 and 73 of the Vermont Constitution, the Vermont General Assembly is periodically re-apportioned to reflect the state’s changing demographic patterns. The current apportionment process is guided by Title 17, Sections 1901-1909 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated. In the Hartland case (1993), the Supreme Court elaborated on district criteria. The Apportionment Board drafts the initial apportionment plan. The General Assembly, drawing from this plan, enacts the apportionment system for the ensuing decade. The Office of the Secretary of State serves as secretariat to the Board.

ThinkVermont: RURAL LIVING FOR A SAFER FUTURE

As the nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are looking to rural areas with wide open spaces, fresh air, and tight-knit communities to call home. According to a recent Gallup Poll, almost half of Americans would prefer to live in rural areas or small towns, if given the choice.  

The effects of climate change are also influencing decisions on where people can imagine a safe future. CBS News found a formula for a safe haven – inland enough to escape coastal storms and rising water levels, eastern enough to avoid the potential for wildfires, and northern enough to avoid heat waves. Sounds like the Green Mountain State! A family from Paradise, CA, fleeing the Camp Fire, made the move to Vermont, calling it a “functional, extremely happy, healthy place.” 

Vermont’s regions are stepping up their efforts to help potential Vermonters relocate. People interested in exploring Vermont job opportunities, housing, and communities can now connect with Think Vermont representatives to schedule an introductory conversation to talk about calling Vermont home. 

These tough times have shown that through thick and thin, Vermont’s communities, landscapes, and economy have what it takes to provide healthy, fulfilling lifestyles. One Portland, OR native made the move to Vermont and is settling in well; his endearing  “Flatlander’s Application to Join Vermont” published in Seven Days shows he’s a Vermonter by choice.  

The future looks bright from where we stand in the Green Mountains.


Vermont House sessions

The public can also watch the Vermont House legislative sessions live or recorded videos – information below

Tuesday at 10:00 AM; Wednesday at 1:15 PM; Thursday at 1:15 PM; Friday at 9:30 AM (All times subject to change)


As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss them.

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. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com

Kind regards, 

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

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