We were out and about hiking our favorite trails this past weekend – I hope you were able to enjoy the sunny conditions. Daylight Savings Time starts in 19 days!
There are a number of bills related to Housing, Act 250 and Public Safety receiving testimony in the House and Senate. I hope to be able to provide a clearer picture of how those bills are shaping up next week.
Last week in the Vermont House:
- A bill allowing Burlington to require “just cause” prior to eviction passed the House. This is a charter change for the city that was approved by 69% of the Burlington voters – which is the only reason that I voted for it on the floor. I believe this provision, if enacted, will lead to decreased private sector investment in rental housing in Burlington. That might result in less rental housing for middle class workers in the city, and private sector investments in surrounding towns.
- Efforts to preserve the make up of the Windham/Bennington District were rejected as they did not resolve population challenges on the other side of the Greens along the Route 7 corridor. Readsboro and Dover both expressed opposition to the House Government Operations Committee proposals, as did I. Over the weekend I have been in touch with the Boards of Civil Authority in each of the towns – these elected town leaders who are able to weigh in on the redistricting proposals. I also spoke with Rep. John Gannon who is Vice Chair on the Committee and in charge of the Southern Vermont redistricting to see what options are available to the towns. I’m currently working on proposals for the towns that will hopefully prevent the loss of vote power in Readsboro and Stamford and that align with the Town of Dover’s proposals. Readsboro’s latest testimony is below:
This process is conducted to ensure that all Vermont residents have equal representation in the legislature. Please stay in touch with your BCA’s for opportunities to weigh in with the legislature on additional proposals as this work continues.
Reducing emissions and carbon intensive fossil fuel use in municipal buildings
Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act requires the Vermont Climate Council to develop a plan to reduce Green House Gas emissions in the state. Part of developing that plan included work by the Rural Resiliency subcommittee to plan for how our smallest, lowest income and most rural municipalities would adapt to climate change and respond to the emissions reductions. Governor Scott brought forward a proposal in his budget address entitled “Resilient Communities” that proposed a number of initiatives the Rural Resiliency committee had contemplated. H.518 An act relating to the creation of the Municipal Fuel Switching Grant Program incorporates many of those concepts, and has been voted out of the House Energy & Technology Committee. The bill is currently in the Appropriations Committee and will hopefully proceed to a full vote in the next few weeks. This bill expands an existing state program, the State Municipal Energy Management Plan which plans and finances weatherization and more fuel efficient heating improvement projects in state buildings. H.518 will expand that program to include municipal buildings. The program has three basic parts:
- Technical assistance at the state and regional level and small local grants for facilitating conversations about increasing community resiliency.
- Resiliency assessment grants – these funds will help communities assess the best means of increasing resiliency including reducing fossil fuel use and GHG emissions. This could include planning for battery storage, solar siting, weatherization.
- Grant funds to weatherize and reduce fossil fuel usage in municipal buildings that currently or are planned to provide critical public access to telehealth, education or commerce services.
In addition to increasing overall resilience and decreasing reliance on fossil fuel usage, providing funding to offset needed investments in municipal buildings can help expand access to critical services for all residents and and contain costs for property tax payers.
2022 Budget Adjustment
Adjustments to the budget passed last year – the 2022 budget – in the amount of 367 Million have been proposed and are now in conference committee between the House and Senate.
Town Meeting Week Break
Searsburg, Readsboro and Stamford will all be proceeding with their Town Meetings next Monday March 1st in the evening. I will be attending each in person and will be prepared to speak to the current proposals for legislative districts.
Pupil Weighting and Vermont’s Education Finance System
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.
Bills that have passed the House and Senate and are waiting for the governor’s signature:
|H.361||An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Brattleboro|
|S.30||An act relating to prohibiting possession of firearms within hospital buildings|
|H.693||An act relating to the annual budget vote of the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District|
|H.454||An act relating to approval of an amendment to the charter of the City of Burlington|
Noteworthy legislative items:
- Readsboro says no to House district plans
- Local Commotion: National Divisions on Race and Equity Are Roiling Vermont School Boards
- Bill Would Require Vermont Hunters to Eat, Skin or Mount Prey — Except Coyotes
Latest OpEds and Blog Posts
- Rep. Sibilia: 2022 Session Update Week 6
- 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 email@example.com. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham