The 2022 elections are moving into view. All House and Senate seats, plus the Governor, Lt. Governor and Constitutional Offices are up for election in 2022. The process of running for election or reelection to the legislative seats is a little more complicated in years where we have to redraw district lines after a census count. Current legislators and those who are considering running for offices are unclear on which towns will be in which districts. Elections are another reason why it is important that your town weighs in on the redistricting proposals being considered. The district that we are currently in is proposed to be split into 4 or 5 different districts in order to solve population loss in Bennington and Pownal. Please see info I provided on redistricting last week – the legislature has still only heard from two of the six towns in our district.
This week my committee in the legislature has begun work on something called a “Clean Heat Standard” which would ensure and support Vermont’s heat suppliers in transforming their businesses in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fossil fuel use in Vermont buildings. This work is trying to help big fossil fuel dependent systems connected to climate change shift in a stable and predictable way. We are learning a lot from other states that have implemented this performance standard.
S.30 Hospital weapons ban
This week we voted on S.30, a bill to ban weapons in hospitals which had a closure of the so called Charleston loophole an increase in magazine sizes for out of state folks traveling in to an instate shooting event, and language from H.133 relating to emergency relief from abuse orders and relinquishment of firearms. I supported H.133 last year, but the Senate has yet to vote on it. I voted no on this bill for one reason, it came out of committee with less notice then we might typically have, and no public hearing. Issues related to guns have typically been of very high interest in our district and I have always endeavored to give voters notice that these bills are coming to the floor, regardless of how I will vote, to ensure that they can express their point of view to me and to the Judiciary Committee prior to voting. This bill can be agreed to by the Senate and then go to the Governor. It is unclear whether or not he would sign or veto. The bill could also be changed by the Senate and sent back to the House.
Pupil Weighting and Vermont’s Education Finance System
This week the Vermont Social Equity Caucus issued a Statement on Funding Formula for English Language Learners and acknowledging the harm that has occurred as a result of the flawed education finance system. Co Chairs Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Rep. Coach Christie testified in Senate Education today in support of this statement signed by a tri partisan group of legislators.
Today a resolution honoring school board members was read in the House. I offered comments about the challenges the 20 year flaw in the education formula has created for school board members.
Testimony on aspects of the incomplete Task Force recommendations is ongoing in Senate Finance, Senate Education and House Ways and Means. There are many House and Senate members from around the state working on education finance and many engaged on correcting this injustice.
Many thanks to our local boards throughout the Valley and Southern Vermont and Vermonters from the Kingdom, Winooski, Rutland and Burlington that are working so hard to correct this 20+ year injustice to our students, communities and taxpayers. We have made a lot of progress, and the work continues.
Bills waiting for the Governors signature
|H.454||1/28/2022||An act relating to approval of an amendment to the charter of the City of Burlington|
|S.78||1/28/2022||An act relating to binding interest arbitration for employees of the Vermont Judiciary|
|H.157||1/27/2022||An act relating to registration of construction contractors|
|H.589||1/25/2022||An act relating to reapportioning the initial districts of the House of Representatives|
Homeowner Assistance Program
Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP), which helps Vermont homeowners facing pandemic hardships, is now accepting applications. The program, funded by $50 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will provide grants of up to $30,000 per household towards overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes, and property association charges.
The HAP is being managed through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) and expected to run for multiple years to help reduce the long-term risk of foreclosure and home loss.
Earlier in the pandemic, VHFA organized the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP), which assisted nearly 900 households with a total of $10 million in mortgage and property tax assistance. The additional federal ARPA funding allows the HAP to offer expanded criteria to support homeowners who do not have a mortgage or who have a reverse mortgage, and it will also cover utility bills and homeowner and condominium association fees, to help even more households facing financial challenges.
The program is available to any Vermont homeowner who meets the eligibility criteria, and is not just for VHFA mortgage borrowers. The program is available to Vermont homeowners for expenses related to their primary home, who meet income limits, and who are behind on their bills due to a financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic after January 21, 2020.
More information and application materials are available at vermonthap.vhfa.org. The website is available in several languages and includes information about how applicants can access additional translation and application assistance. A Homeowner Assistance Program information hotline is open 9 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday, at 833-221-4208.
GMP Statewide Energy Webinar
Interested in learning more about improving your home’s resiliency while cutting costs and carbon? Join your Regional Planning Commissions and Green Mountain Power at 7 pm on February 8th for a webinar to learn how GMP’s battery storage programs can help you stay powered up, while also reducing carbon emissions and lowering costs for all GMP customers.
Here is the registration link for this energy storage webinar:
Please share the information and link with anyone in your community who may have an interest!
Efficiency Vermont’s 2022 residential rebates
If you’re planning on improving the efficiency of your home or apartment this year, make sure you take a look at Efficiency Vermont’s 2022 residential rebates list below.*
Additional rebates may also be available from your electric or gas utility. You can sign up to be notified about new offers at http://www.efficiencyvermont.com/newsletter-sign-up
Air Sealing and Insulation
• Comprehensive Weatherization: 50% off project costs, up to $3,000 (completed by an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor)
• DIY weatherization: $100 back on select do-it-yourself projects
Heating, Cooling, and Water Heating
• Air-to-water Heat pump: Up to $1,000/ton rebate + $500 income bonus
• Ducted Heat pump: $1,000 off + $200 income bonus
• Ductless Heat pump: Discount starting at $350 + $200 income bonus
• Ground source Heat pump: up to $2,100/ton + $500 income bonus
• Smart thermostats: $100 rebate for select ENERGY STAR models
• Water heaters: $300-$600 for select heat pump water heaters + $200 income bonus
• Window air conditioners: $100 rebate for select ENERGY STAR models
• Wood pellet furnaces & boilers: $6,000 rebate
• Wood and Pellet Stoves: $200 discount at select retailers
• Heat Pump Clothes dryers: $200-$400
• Dehumidifiers: $25-$40
• Federal tax credit: up to $7,500
• State incentive: up to $4,000
• Electric Utility incentive: $500-$2,500
• Income-eligible Vermonters can get up to $5,000 more on a used EV through http://MileageSmartVT.org
• Discounts on select ENERGY STAR LED fixtures at participating retailers
• LEDs for indoor growing: $100 rebate for qualifying fixture
Income Based Assistance
Additional help is available in the form of free lighting, appliances, energy consultations, and more — http://www.efficiencyvermont.com/free-products to find out if you are eligible.
*All offers are subject to availability and eligibility. Visit http://www.efficiencyvermont.com/rebates for the most up to date listing.
Enjoy Free Ice Fishing on Saturday
It’s chilly outside and ice fishing is heating up!
This Saturday, January 29, 2022 anyone can fish Vermont for free. It’s the perfect time to get out on the ice and give it a try, or introduce someone new to a past time you cherish with no license required.
If you don’t know how or where to start, we’ve got you covered. Have some fun at the virtual ice fishing clinic, link below, where you’ll learn about ice safety, jigging, setting tip-ups, fish identification, fish filleting, cooking – it’s ice fishing from start to finish! Tour Virtual Ice Fishing Clinic With these skills, you’ll be ready to enjoy Free Fishing Day on Saturday. Who knows, you might bring home dinner. Read more on Free Ice Fishing Day here.
VERMONT INTRODUCES “BETTER PLACES,” A NEW PARTNERSHIP TO BUILD VIBRANT AND WELCOMING PUBLIC PLACES THROUGH COMMUNITY-LED PLACEMAKING GRANTS
Governor Phil Scott, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Community Foundation, and Patronicity announced the launch of Better Places, a statewide program that empowers Vermonters to create and build vibrant and inclusive public places in the hearts of Vermont communities. This innovative partnership provides residents the opportunity to use crowdfunding to develop strategic, locally led projects in their communities and be supported with a 2:1 matching grant from the State.
The Better Places program provides one-on-one project coaching, local fundraising support, and matching grants ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 to advance community-led placemaking efforts that create, revitalize, or activate public spaces. Whether communities are dreaming for more parks and green spaces, a vibrant main street, colorful public art projects, community gardens, or cultural events, Better Places grants can help turn these ideas into reality.
In December of 2020, the Better Places pilot program was launched, and the state’s program partners invested $130,000 dollars into eight collaborative projects around the state. With the success of the pilot program, the Vermont Legislature allocated $1.5 million for the formal launch of this program.
- To review projects that were part of the pilot program click here.
- For full details on the program including eligibility and application process, visit the program website.
- A program launch webinar will be held on Thursday, February 10th, at 11:00am.Registration is required.
Noteworthy legislative items:
Latest OpEds and Blog Posts
- Rep. Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Week 3
- Rep Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Weeks 1 & 2
- Rep. Sibilia: 1/6/2022 COVID-19 Updates
Stay in touch and keep track of the legislative session
Join me on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 6 pm when I will be zooming with the Wardsboro Library from the statehouse or the 3rd Saturdays at 11 am when I host virtual office hours and you can join here or by calling +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089.
As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham