This past week was very busy in committees, but not yet very busy on the floor debating bills. This weekend I hosted two well attended forums on school choice legislation that has been introduced and will host tow more next weekend. I hope you will join us if this is an area of concern for you.
Legislation on elections, paid family leave, changes to gun laws and sports betting are detailed below. We have almost reached the halfway mark of the session.
Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, March 7th and three of our district towns will be meeting on that day at 10 am. This year I will be starting in Jamaica with a special resolution and then head to Stratton and finally Dover. I will try to get to each of the towns, but depending on how quickly your town concludes it’s business, I may miss your town. I always create a written Town Meeting report sharing information about the budget and taxes and major legislation that is moving and will be sure to leave copies at your Town Clerk and will post online.
Wardsboro’s Town Meeting will take place on Saturday, May 13th on the Town Hall lawn.
REMINDER: The River Valleys School District is voting by Australian Ballot on Monday, February 27th from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at town halls in Dover and Wardsboro on two items: whether or not to amend the district bylaws in order to ensure equal representation of all voters in the district and to decide whether or not to vote from the floor or by Australian Ballot for board member elections. I am voting YES to amend the bylaws and to vote for candidates by Australian ballot. Stop in at the Town Office and vote!
Public Hearing on the Governor’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2024 Budget
The Vermont House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Appropriations will jointly hold two public hearing Tuesday February 28, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. via in person at the State house in Room 11 or via videoconference (Zoom).
The Governor’s FY24 Executive Budget Recommendation may be found here.
The Committees will take testimony on the Governor’s recommended budget at the above date and time. Anyone interested in testifying should sign up in advance of the hearing through the following online form no later than 12:00 p.m. on Monday February 20, 2023, for the hearing date of February 21, 2023, and no later than 12:00 p.m. on Monday February 27, 2023, for the hearing date of February 28, 2023:
To submit written testimony, please email your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org
See the full press release here
A surprising AND decidedly partisan miscellaneous elections bill was put forth by Democratic leadership in the House. Compared to many other states, Vermont has historically been more friendly to voters then to the parties when it comes to candidates in elections. With supermajorities in place, the Democrats inexplicably turned toward several partisan purification proposals which would further limit the number of candidates that voters have to choose from in the General Election. Using voter ignorance and apathy as rationale, versions of the bill this week sought to ban some nonpartisan candidates and some candidates with multi party support from the general election. The final bill
- Bars candidates who did not win a major party nomination in the Primary Election from being nominated by any other party committee to run in the General Election – except the party whose primary they lost
- Bars candidates who lost a primary contest to win a party nomination from running as an independent in the General Election
- Asks candidates gender, age, race/ethnicity details be provided to the secretary of state
- Caps contribution from a candidate to a party at 100K.
Major opposition began to arise from Progressives, Republicans, independents and some Democrats in the House, and many of the most egregious proposals are no longer in the final bill. However, trying to exert control on candidates no longer seeking your parties nomination and the prohibition on running as an independent after the primary are an attempt to limit voters choices and still in the bill.
You are limiting voter choice. Primary elections are for the parties. The general election is for the voters.Former Rep. Barbara Murphy (I) Fairfax this week.
Vermont has a proud tradition of bipartisan cooperation, civility and expanding access to voting. Partisan proposals seeking to limit Vermont voters choices in the General Election have no place in our brave little state. I will continue to make the case for voter choice when this bill come to the floor of the House this week.
Paid Family Leave
The House General & Housing Committee advanced the paid family leave bill, H.66, with a 9-3 vote. The measure would offer each employee up to 12 weeks of paid leave at 100% of their wage (capped at $1,135) for a list of qualifying events. It proposes to be initially funded by a 0.55% payroll tax shared between the employer and employee. The bill is currently in House Ways and Means receiving testimony. A section by section breakdown of the bill can be found here.
Clean Heat: S.5
Gun storage, Red Flags, Transfers
H.230 An act relating to implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide has been voted out of the Healthcare Committee and will be sent to the Judiciary Committee this week.
- More than 700 Vermont residents died of gunshot wounds in the decade from 2011 to 2020. 88 percent of these deaths were suicide.
- Of all the deaths in Vermont involving firearms in 2021, 89 percent were by suicide and 8 percent were by homicide.
- The 2021 suicide rate by all methods in Vermont was 20.3 per 100,000 persons, compared to a national rate of 14.0 per 100,000 persons. Suicide among Vermont men and boys is 50 percent higher than the national average.
- In 2021, the number of suicides in Vermont was 142, with 83 of them completed by firearm, or 58 percent.
- Rand Corporation research estimates that in 2016, firearms were present in 47 percent of Vermont homes and in 32 percent of homes in the United States.
- Children are 4.4 times more likely to die by suicide in a home with a firearm compared to a home without a firearm.
- Persons at greatest risk of suicide in Vermont are men, persons living in rural areas, persons with a disability, veterans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The purpose of this legislation is to prevent death by suicide by reducing access to lethal means of firearms. Although there are many other methods for completing suicide, firearms are unique in their ability to create instantaneous and irreversible outcomes. Nearly every other commonly used method for suicide has a high survivability rate. It is extremely rare for someone to survive a suicide attempt in which a firearm is used. This fact, combined with the high prevalence of firearms in Vermont, is why this method alone is being addressed by this bill.
- Require secure firearms storage in home with child or known prohibited person
- Allows a family member to request an Extreme Risk Prevention Order be issued Ex Parte or be renewed
- 72 hours waiting period on transfers
School Choice Bills:
This week I introduced H.209 to the House Committee on Education. This bill would expand public school choice within a supervisory union to elementary schools. Here is the testimony I provided to the committee.
March 4th I will hold two more district forums on realigning Vermont school choice policies with the U.S. and VT Constitution in Dover and Jamaica in our district to explain the bills under consideration, answer questions and listen to constituent’s ideas and concerns.
- Saturday, March 4th 9-10 am at the Jamaica Town Hall
- Saturday, March 4th 11-noon at the Dover Town Hall
I hope you will consider joining me at one or more forums to hear about the bills and to ask questions or provide suggestions on how to better solve the constitutional problem created by Vermont’s existing choice policy and the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions.
ARTICLE: VPR: Vermont school choice system scrutinized as Legislature responds to U.S. Supreme Court decision
Public Input Requested
House Government Operations passed, H.127, which would legalize sports betting in Vermont, on a 9-3 vote. The bill is being reviewed by the Ways & Means Committee. An estimated 35 states now allow sports betting. The bill would authorize the Department of Liquor and Lottery to (1) operate sports wagering through contracts with sports wagering operators; (2) establish minimum standards for the regulation of sports wagering and grant the Department regulatory authority over sports wagering; (3) establish a competitive bidding process for the selection of the State’s operators; (4) authorize the Department to establish a revenue sharing agreement with operators; and (5) establish responsible gaming standards and the Responsible Gaming Special Fund, which shall be used by the Department of Mental Health for services related to problem gambling.
Bill’s I have sponsored this week:
|H.291||An act relating to the creation of the Cybersecurity Advisory Council|
|H.347||An act relating to ranked-choice voting for presidential primary elections|
|H.367||An act relating to promoting economic development, administrative capacity, and vitality in rural communities|
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 email@example.com. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia – Dover, Jamaica, Somerset, Stratton, Wardsboro