The Legislature continues to meet in a hybrid fashion, the House meeting largely in person and the Senate still mostly remote. Senators are expected to come back after Town Meeting. The statehouse is starting to see more in person testimony and visitors as Vermont eases back from the increased winter pandemic precautions. This week and last week we took historic action, action that I have not previously seen in my 8 years in the House, by voting to advance two propositions to Vermonter’s to vote on in November that would change the Vermont Constitution.
The governor has also vetoed his first bill of the session, and a massive narrowly focused tax relief initiative has passed the House.
Don’t forget that this coming Thursday 17th I will host virtual office hours at 6 pm in partnership with the Wardsboro Community Library. On Saturday the 19th I will host virtual office hours at 11 am. Join me on Thursday at 6 pm when I will be zooming from the statehouse or Saturdays at 11 am when I host virtual office hours from the Dover. You can join here or by calling +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Passcode: 003089.
Prop 5, Veto of Contractor Registry, Child Tax Credit
This week the House passed Proposition 5 on Reproductive Healthcare by a vote of 107-41. Prop 5 is a personal and emotional issue having to do with individual’s right to reproductive freedom. It’s important to understand the federal laws and Vermont practices that are involved in this proposed amendment.
I voted in favor of Prop 5, the right for individuals to make decisions about their reproductive healthcare and for Vermonters to be able to vote for themselves on whether or not enshrining our current laws in the Vermont Constitution should happen.
Proposed: Sec. 2. Article 22 of Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution is added to read:Prop 5 now goes to the voters in November 2022. If Vermonters vote in favor of changing the Vermont Constitution, they will add this proposed Article 22 to the Vermont Constitution.
Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty]
That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to
the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be
denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by
the least restrictive means.
This week the Governor vetoed H.157 which is a registration of building contractors. A veto override vote will likely take place next week.
The House passed a historic 50 million dollar Child Tax Credit for children under 6. The House Ways and Means Committee described H.510 as an anti-poverty bill that responds to Vermont’s demographic crisis. The bill now goes to the Senate. The Governor has proposed multiple tax relief initiatives, including a nursing incentive and eliminating the military retirement and survivors benefit pay income tax but the House has not been taken these up yet in the committees of jurisdiction.
S.30 Hospital weapons ban
This week we passed an amended 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. This bill will now go to the governor.
I supported H.133 last year, but that bill remains stuck in the Senate. I voted no on this bill for only one reason, it came out of committee with less notice then we might typically have, and there was 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. It is unclear whether or not the governor will sign or veto S.30.
Pupil Weighting and Vermont’s Education Finance System
Testimony on aspects of the incomplete Task Force to implement the Pupil Weighting Factor recommendations in Senate Finance, Senate Education and House Ways and Means can be listened to via the links above. There are many House and Senate members from around the state working on education finance and many engaged on correcting this injustice.
The Senate Finance Committee has posted a draft bill that would correct student weights with the exception of ELL weights. I expect that ELL will be eventually included as well. This is a major step forward towards correcting the injustice our neediest students and communities are experiencing. Included in the draft is an education finance advisory committee – a concept I support. As currently envisioned the advisory committee is a political body that is not required to utilize empirically derived evidence to support its recommendations. That type of decision making has caused 25 years of harm to our most vulnerable students and communities. I will work with other legislators to ensure that this advisory committee is more accountable then education tax policy decision-makers have been since Act 60/68.
Many many thanks to our administrators, local boards and citizens 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 is finally yielding positive results.
AfterSchool and Summer Programs for 2022 and 2023
Governor Phil Scott, Senator Bernie Sanders and Vermont Afterschool have announced that the application is now open for a wide variety of organizations – including non-profits, municipalities, and licensed/regulated providers of school age childcare – to apply for grant funds to support afterschool and summer programming.
Today’s announcement follows the successful Summer Matters grant initiative, which used funds secured by Senator Sanders in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to provide enriching and engaging summer programs for Vermont students. Governor Scott and Senator Sanders, in partnership with Vermont Afterschool, announced the launch of a new, $4.8 million grant program for summer 2022 and 2023, and the 2022-2023 school year. These grants will continue to reduce gaps in our current summer and after school system by addressing affordability, increasing availability, building long-lasting partnerships to promote sustainability, and piloting innovative approaches.
Additionally, to compliment these grant funds for community partners, Governor Scott’s FY23 Budget proposes an additional $2.8 million for school-based summer and afterschool programs. These funds will be targeted to school districts that have faced challenges standing up afterschool programs.
The Governor reiterated that these grant funds to community-based summer and afterschool providers, plus the additional $2.8 million for schools, will act as an important bridge to the more sustainable funding from the cannabis sales tax revenue established in Act 164 and dedicated to afterschool and summer programs for Vermont’s kids.
More information and application materials are available at https://vermontafterschool.org/expanding-access-grants/
Bills that have passed the House and Senate and are waiting for the governor’s signature:
|S.30||2/11/2022||An act relating to prohibiting possession of firearms within hospital buildings|
|H.693||2/3/2022||An act relating to the annual budget vote of the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District|
|H.454||1/28/2022||An act relating to approval of an amendment to the charter of the City of Burlington|
Noteworthy legislative items:
Latest OpEds and Blog Posts
- Rep. Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Week 5
- Rep. Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Week 4
- Rep. Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Week 3
- Rep Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Weeks 1 & 2
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