Tomorrow I will join Scott Administration Officials at a number of events in our region including at the Old School in Wilmington and at the Dover School in Dover. These visits are part of making sure communities are aware of opportunities relegated to federal funding that they may be eligible for and for which there may be technical assistance. I really appreciate these joint visits from cabinet officials to more far flung regions of our state!
This past week in the legislature it was a real joy to welcome the Vermont Communications Union Districts to the House to meet with the legislators and testify. So much work is happening around the state and fiber build out to customers is underway in 6 of the CUD districts. CUDS are municipal organizations formed by municipalities that are required to have a plan to serve all of the unserved and underserved in all of their communities. There are two key aspects of Vermont’s plan to build future proof fiber to all through these CUDs – universality and accountability. I spoke about these principles when introducing the CUD representatives on the floor:
We have just heard a resolution recognizing the central importance of CUDs to the establishment of statewide universal high-speed broadband access and congratulating them on their progress to date
After years of pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into private unregulated wired and fixed wireless providers 10’s of thousands of Vermonters remained w out basic broadband speeds. Making the situation worse, the largest landline telephone infrastructure was becoming increasingly less reliable, making it uncertain Vermonters would be able to even call for help in an emergency. One CEO’s response to this was to suggest our vulnerable constituents should move.
In 2019 the legislature and governor decided the situation had become untenable and unsafe and came together to give communities tools to form Communications Union Districts, a successful model of intermunicipal cooperation pioneered by the communities and citizens of the East Central Fiber Telecommunications District.
Vermonters responded immediately and began to organize themselves to ensure their neighbors had access to modern telecommunications infrastructure.
When the pandemic hit, and it became even more apparent how urgent reliable broadband was for education, commerce, healthcare and access to government, this body passed Act 71 in 2021 to support accelerating and funding the work underway by these Vermonters. The principles of this work were universality – meaning everyone – and public accountability
Today there are
10 Districts that are made up of
• 214 Member Towns
• 428 Volunteer Board Representatives
• Covering more than 76% the state’s population
• 93% of premises statewide without access to 25/3
And they are building, they are growing, and they are serving as a national model for the universal build out of rural high speed broadband.
Today we are fortunate to have dozens of these hundreds of volunteers here with us. This includes former members of this body, former telecommunications professionals, non-profit leaders, utility workers, lawyers, and even my high school vice principal.
Madame Speaker, please welcome them to the people’s house:Sibilia CUD welcome February 2, 2023
‘Not enough oversight’: Scandals in Vermont sheriffs’ departments spur legislative action
Pact Act press conference
This week Governor Scott and VT Adjutant General Knight held a press conference talking about The PACT Act And Your VA Benefits | Veterans Affairs. You can view the press conference on the Guard Facebook page (2) Vermont National Guard | Colchester VT | Facebook
Treasurer Pieciak Reminds Vermonters to Search for Missing Money on National Unclaimed Property Day
The Treasurer’s Office currently holds $119 million of unclaimed property. In 2022, the Office paid out over 15,000 claims totaling over $5.3 million that went back into the pockets of Vermonters.
“Unclaimed property” includes assets like uncashed checks, lost valuables, forgotten security deposits, misplaced insurance policies, investments, or estates. Currently there are close to 1 million properties waiting to be claimed. There is never a charge to claim funds through the Treasurer’s Office. Vermonters are cautioned to be wary of companies claiming to locate and recover property for a fee.
You can search online at www.MissingMoney.Vermont.gov or call the Unclaimed Property Division at (802) 828-2407 or toll-free in Vermont at 1-800-642-3191.
Bills I sponsored this week:
H.133 An act relating to penalties and point assessments for using a portable electronic device while operating a moving motor vehicle.
This bill proposes to change the penalties and point assessments for violating laws governing the use of a portable electronic device, including for texting, while operating a moving motor vehicle on a highway.
H.141 An act relating to an inventory and needs assessment of organizations supporting Vermont’s immigrant communities.
This bill proposes to direct the State Refugee Office to issue a request for proposal to conduct an inventory and assessment of all organizations in the State providing services to Vermont’s immigrant community. The inventory and assessment shall be completed by November 15, 2024. Vermont has long been a home to immigrant and refugee populations and a federal partner organization in Chittenden County has partnered with numerous community based organizations to welcome New Vermonters.. Vermont’s elected leaders have become more vocal in their support for welcoming increased numbers of refugees and this assessment would help state agencies understand how New Vermont community service organizations are organized and what supports they may need to humanely welcome refugees to our communities.
H.159 An act relating to the Vermont Broadband Internet Access Service Privacy Act. This bill proposes to enact the Vermont Broadband Internet Access Service Privacy Act, modeled after legislation that has survived legal challenge in Maine.
When we email or surf the web, our Internet Service Provider (ISP) can track what sites we visit and when, and any unsecured data you read or send. Maine law now requires ISPs to get their customers’ consent before using or disclosing this information. This shifts the default permission and automatically presumes no data can be shared requiring a citizen to take an opt-in action in order for their information shared. Read more at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Newest bills that have been signed into law:
|H.42||1/19/2023||An act relating to temporary alternative procedures for annual municipal meetings and electronic meetings of public bodies||1|
Monitor the bills I am sponsoring and recorded roll call votes.
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, Jamaica, Somerset, Stratton, Wardsboro