Rep. Sibilia: November 27, 2022 Update

Good evening,

Mount Snow is officially open and Stratton opened on November 25th!

We really enjoyed this past week; having two of our kids home and seeing family and friends we haven’t seen in a bit over the holiday. We also missed our youngest daughter who is serving overseas this holiday season. Many share these conflicting emotions of joy and sadness over the year end holidays – be kind out there, and generous with your smile.

Links to 2022 dates and historical celebratory references for end of year festivities below.

  • Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 18th and goes through December 26th
  • Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, December 21st
  • Christmas is on Sunday, December 25th
  • Kwanzaa begins on Monday, December 26th and goes through January 1st

VTDigger: Lawmakers contemplate ‘third-rail’ reforms amid housing crisis

If you become aware of folks who are in danger of going without heat, a state program for those making less then 200% of federal poverty may be able to help – more details further down in this newsletter.

In the coming weeks I will be sending out two items that may be of interest – the first will outline the progress Vermont is making towards developing an inclusive smart grid. The second will be a pre session survey of priorities in the district. I do hope folks will take a few minutes to answer a few questions and provide some insight going into the session. For those who have not seen this survey in the past, participants are required to provide their name and town in order to take the survey so as to ensure we know whose voices are being shared.

The best way to sign up to receive newsletters and emails from me is on my website www.laurasibiliavt.com.



Alzheimer’s Association Discussion

Thursday, December 8th from 11:30-1:30 at the American Legion Post 5, 32 Linden St, Brattleboro

Join us for a lunch followed by an informal conversation about:

  • What is it like to be diagnosed with and live with Alzheimer’s or another dementia
  • What it is like to care for someone with dementia 
  • Upcoming State and Federal policy priorities
  • What services are available in Vermont and in your community, and what services are needed
  • How you can get involved with the fight to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementias

This event is free and open to the public, including those with dementia. Lunch will be provided, please indicate any food restrictions when you register. This event is being hosted by the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Register online at https://tinyurl.com/ALZBrat or call 802-440-1881.


The PACT Act and your VA benefits

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711). And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.


Last week was Transgender Awareness Week a time to educate the public about who transgender people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy. Pride Center of Vermont, Outright Vermont and Out in the Open are sites with accurate and useful LGBTQ+ information and resources to Vermonters.

2023 Draft Renewable Energy Standard

For 6 years, Vermont has had a renewable energy standard. The goal of this standard is to move Vermont’s regulated utilities (like Green Mountain Power and Jacksonville Electric) towards purchasing or generating renewable energy rather then energy from coal, oil, propane or natural gas.

The Vermont Department of Public Service (Department) is extending the comment period for the 2023 Draft Renewable Energy Standard (“RES”) Model. A draft of the model can be found here. There is also a direct link to a PDF presentation summarizing the purpose and content of the RES model,  core inputs/assumptions, and a brief summary of draft results which can be found here.

Please send written comments by December 2 to: adam.jacobs@vermont.gov

30 V.S.A. § 8002-8005 established a renewable energy standard (RES) that Vermont electric distribution utilities (DUs) are required to meet. Under the RES, Vermont’s DUs must procure a defined percentage of their total retail electric sales from renewable energy. The requirements of the RES are broken into three categories, or tiers, as follows:

Tier I

Tier I requires that Vermont DUs procure a defined percentage of their retail electric sales from any source of renewable energy. Under Tier I, this defined percentage starts at 55% in 2017, the first year the RES is in effect, and increases by 4% every three years, eventually reaching 75% in 2032. 

Tier II

Tier II requires that Vermont DUs procure a defined percentage of their retail electric sales from new distributed renewable generation. For purposes of the RES, distributed renewable generation is defined as electric generation facilities that have a plant capacity of 5 MW or less and are directly connected to a DUs sub transmission or distribution system, or have been identified in an approved plan to defer transmission upgrades, or net-metering systems, provided the DU owns the environmental attributes associated with the system. In order to qualify as new under the RES, facilities must have commenced operation after June 30, 2015. DUs are required to procure 1% of their annual retail sales from Tier II-eligible facilities starting in 2017, increasing by three-fifths of a percent each year until reaching 10% in 2032. 

Tier III

Tier III requires that DUs either procure additional new distributed renewable energy consistent with the requirements of Tier II, above, or acquire fossil-fuel savings through energy transformation projects. Energy transformation projects are those that reduce the fossil-fuel consumption of a DU’s customers and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that consumption. Under Tier III, DUs must procure either the amount of distributed renewable energy or fossil-fuel savings equivalent to 2% of their annual retail sales in 2017, increasing by two-thirds of a percent each year until reaching 12% in 2032. 


Governor Scott election win message

At 4:00 a.m. the day before every election, my team and I set out on a 14 County Tour, visiting all of Vermont’s 14 counties in one day. This 500+ mile tour has a way to put things into perspective. It reinforces how beautiful our state is and how much it has to offer. And it reminds us that the differences between counties and communities can be stark.

We’ve been making progress to close this gap, but we must do more to make sure every family, in every part of our state, has the tools needed to be healthy, safe, and successful. 

So, with the election behind us, I hope everyone elected to serve in Montpelier will work with me to level the playing field from region to region, restoring economic security and prosperity statewide. 

And Vermonters want us to work together. They want balance and moderation. They made that clear when electing me with about 70% of the vote and Democratic ‘super-majorities’ in the Legislature. 

Of course, they don’t want me to be a rubber stamp for the Legislature, nor do they want the Legislature to blindly go along with whatever I put forward. So that means we’ll be debating the issues, which I will continue to do with civility, seeking consensus where possible, compromising when necessary, and agreeing to disagree or let the process run its course when we cannot resolve our differences. Vermonters want us to put their needs ahead of politics.

This type of thoughtful, balanced government – with less partisanship and political positioning – is what gets the best results. 

Unfortunately, hyper-partisan political parties are driving Americans further and further apart – and seem to get the most attention from the media.

They feel the strategy focusing on issues that divide us is easier to motivate more people to go to the polls, donate to campaigns, and click on headlines.

But I don’t believe that’s where most Vermonters and Americans are. A large majority of us are somewhere in the center.

And most of us could live without all the labels and name calling. 

Think about it. Would you ask your neighbor who they voted for before lending a helping hand in their time need? Of course not. 

We need to remember to view each other as people first – fellow Americans – and judge each other by our basic decency, kindness, and generosity toward each other – not political labels. 

 Just because we don’t agree on every issue doesn’t mean we’re enemies. 

The vast majority of people with whom we disagree are, in fact, good people. They want to make a difference in their communities and things better for their kids, family, and friends. 

Whether we’re seasoned politicians or newly elected officials, each of us has the power to stop the cycle of partisan politics that is poisoning our nation.
We can lead by example by treating each other with dignity and respect, living up to the responsibility we’ve been given, and remembering that our children are watching. We need to put aside gamesmanship and divisive national agendas to make the people we serve our priority. 

I’ll do my part by continuing to work every single day to get the results Vermonters deserve, by listening, learning, and leading. And always putting people before politics.

Governor Phil Scott COMMENTARY: VERMONTERS CALLED FOR BALANCE AND WE ALL NEED TO LISTEN

Low Income Energy Assistance Program

Department for Children and Families (DCF) announced today the release of $20 million in Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for households that heat with fuel oil, propane, kerosene, coal, electricity, and natural gas.

The benefit was sent directly to fuel dealers on behalf of 14,741 households and averaged $1,375 per household. Earlier this year, benefits were issued to 2,134 households that heat with wood and pellets. This funding helps keep thousands of Vermonters warm during the winter months. 

To date, the state has seen a 7% increase in the number of households applying for a seasonal fuel benefit this year as well volatile fuel prices. This year, fuel prices are expected to average about $4.81 per gallon, compared to $2.57 per gallon in FY19. To help mitigate the impact of this increased pressure, the increase in federal funding and an additional $5.8 million in state dollars, through LIHEAP and other programs, will be used to keep the benefit similar to previous years.

Households are encouraged to visit the DCF website or contact the Benefit Service Center at 1-800-479-6151 to apply.

Interim DCF Commissioner Harry Chen said: “We know with the increase in fuel prices, coupled with inflation elsewhere, Vermonters are worried for winter. The LIHEAP benefit has always supplemented heating budgets, and we’re pleased to take some additional steps this year at the state and federal level to help keep benefits similar to previous years, despite the increase fuel costs. I encourage any Vermonter who believes they may be eligible for the benefit, to call our phone line.”

Eligibility:

  • Households may be eligible for Seasonal Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four with a gross monthly income up to $4,279 may qualify for the benefit.
  • Households may be eligible for Crisis Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level and they are experiencing a crisis. For example, a family of four with a gross monthly income up to $4,626 may qualify for the benefit.

Learn More:



Medicare open enrollment scams

During Medicare open enrollment, scammers may contact you about updating or switching coverage. Scammers may say your coverage is expiring or in need of renewal. They may ask for your Social Security number to issue a new card or to verify medical information. You may get calls claiming to offer free medical supplies, like braces or COVID-19 home test kits, in exchange for your Medicare number. 

While some calls may originate from telemarketers, looking to change your enrollment, others are from scams, and they can be very difficult to differentiate. If you are looking to change your plan enrollment during the Medicare open enrollment period, do so on your terms. 

If you are concerned about your Medicare plan or need to report known Medicare provider fraud/abuse, contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Please help the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) stop Medicare scams by sharing this information with someone you know. If you have questions about this scam, or have provided personal information to scammers, please call CAP at 1-800-649-2424 or go online to ago.vermont.gov/cap and blog.uvm.edu/cap.


Eat, Sleep, Shop Local

Shop at participating stores in Wilmington and Dover and receive $5 coupons that can be used at other participating stores. The program runs from December 1st through December 24th or while supplies last. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to support local businesses! All participants have a chance to be entered into a raffle filled with gift certificates to local businesses. Proceeds support the local heating fuel assistance program.

Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery (VTVMRC)

Please help us Remember, Honor, and Teach on December 17, 2022 at 12:00 pm by sponsoring a wreath, volunteering, or inviting friends to help.


VTDigger: New Equity Initiative Focused on Vermont Municipalities

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 lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com

Rep. Laura Sibilia – Dover, Jamaica, Somerset, Stratton, Wardsboro

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