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Vermont’s elected independents push for non partisan representation on apportionment board #vtpoli

Vermont‘s elected independents push for non partisan representation on apportionment board

Vermont’s five elected independent legislators have introduced legislation that will add two residents of the state – who are not affiliated with any political party – to the Legislative Apportionment Board. H.236 has been introduced in the House and sent to the Government Operations Commitee.

How reapportionment works:

Reapportionment occurs during the biennial legislative session following each Federal decennial census. The process primarily—but not exclusively—relies on the population figures gathered during the most recent census. Legislative districts are drawn and House and Senate seats are allocated to ensure that the populations of each district have relatively equal representation in both chambers of the State House. Three entities are involved in the process: the General Assembly, the Legislative Apportionment Board, and municipal Boards of Civil Authority.

How the other members of Legislative Apportionment Board are selected: The Legislative Apportionment Board is the only party to the process whose sole purpose is reapportionment. The Board is chaired by a special master who is appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Each political party that has had more than three members serve as members of the General Assembly for at least three of the five biennial legislative sessions since the previous census is represented by two members on the board—one appointed by the Governor and one appointed by the state party committee. Until 2010, the Board had five members with two representatives each from the Democratic and Republican parties. In 2010, the Board expanded to seven members for the first time with the addition of two members from the Progressive party.

History of elected independents serving in the Vermont legislature since the last census:
Vermont has had more than three independent unaffiliated members of the General Assembly serve for at least three of the five biennial legislative sessions since the previous census.

2019/20
Jickling, Murphy, Norris, Pajala, Sibilia

2017/18 (three of the seven independents elected in November 2016 stepped down during the biennium and were replaced with gubernatorial appointed independent representatives)
Jickling, Murphy, Norris (Eastman), Poirer, Pajala (Olsen), Read (Greshin), Sibilia

2015/16
Eastman, Greshin, Murphy, Olsen, Poirer, Sibilia

2013/14
Goodwin, Greshin, Poirer, Stevens

2011/12
Greshin, Poirer, Stevens

 

Reapportionment does not exist for the benefit of the political parties. The process exists to ensure that Vermonters are fairly and equitably represented in the legislature. Over 40% of Americans identify themselves as politically independent, and it is important for all of Vermont’s citizens to be represented and involved throughout the Vermont reapportionment process.

A diverse and representative legislative apportionment board can only strengthen that process.

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For additional comment:

Rep. Ben Jickling bjickling@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Barbara Murphy bmurphy@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Terry Norris tnorris@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Kelly Pajala kpajala@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Laura Sibilia lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us

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Rep. Sibilia: Week 6 of the Vermont legislative session

Good evening,

It’s been a busy week and there is significant progress to report on a number of bills and initiatives I am spending time working on.

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Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Volunteers Michael Birnbaum of Cloud Alliance and Carol Monroe of EC Fiber show the Energy and Technology Committee maps of fiber projects happening in the “worst business case” part of Vermont according to Michael. Both Michael and Carol have volunteered many many hours advising communities on connectivity.

Most especially this connectivity expansion bill which is under development in our committee. This proposal is geared towards supporting the creation of Communications Union Districts and is intended to help incent public private partnerships. We continue to hear testimony about the need for all Vermonters  to have access to telecommunications infrastructure for safety and access to the modern economy.

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There is an issue I have not been spending a lot of time on in Montpelier, or writing about and that is property taxes and education funding, and I plan to explain why in more detail during Town Meeting week.

In the interim, please bear in mind the following:

  • There are three major pieces of legislation still in the process of being implemented by an Agency of Education which I believe is understaffed and in towns with declining population and exhausted school board members and administrators.
    • Act 46 – Reorganizing Governance of Vermont’s School Districts The goal of Act 46 is to improve education outcomes and equity by creating larger and more efficient school governance structures.
    • Act 173 – Special Education Funding Advisory Group which is reorganizing special education delivery throughout the state
    • Act 11 – which includes a task force Student Staff Ratios Task Force and Commission on Public School Employee Health Benefits
  • The education funding mechanism is flawed and not delivering equity. There is a lawsuit from the town of Whitingham in the courts right now alleging the same.
  • I and others and have pushed for and secured investigation into critical adjustments in the form of a rural weighting of students. This weighting is required in order to maintain the current funding mechanism, ensure equity for students and decrease property taxes. The assessment of weights is currently being conducted and is due back in November.
  • Additionally, every student lost in a school district increases per pupil spending which increases residential property taxes. Many schools don’t cut a teacher when they lose 2 students – they just have increased per pupil spending.
  • And finally, the Governor insisted – and the legislature eventually agreed to  artificially lower property taxes the past two years. So increases in healthcare, salaries or other item have not been felt in the tax rates for two years. That means we are likely seeing effects of three years of increases in this years tax rates

I hope voters will talk with their school boards, attend annual budget meetings, ask good questions and keep your legislators apprised of what is happening to you specifically.

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Rep Nadar Hashim reports H.7 on the floor which passed out of House Judiciary by a vote of 11-0

H.7 An act relating to second degree aggravated domestic assault

This bill was sponsored by myself and Dummerston Rep. Nadar Hashim and passed on a unanimous 11-0-0 vote out of the Judiciary Committee and by voice vote in the House.

H.7 will protect victims of serial domestic abusers, and hold perpetrators who cross state lines accountable.

Approximately 75% of homicides in Vermont stem from instances of domestic or familial abuse.

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There are a number of important dates for upcoming River Valleys School District Meetings:

Schedule of upcoming meetings
– February 25 at 7:00 PM in Dover (Budget Presentation)
– March 5 Town Meeting (vote on budget)
– March 11 at 7:00 PM in Wardsboro
– March 18 at 7:00 PM in Dover

Information on the budget and articles, links to previous meetings and videos can be found at http://www.rvusd.net/

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February 14th at the Capitol

ACT  250

I have heard a number of concerns regarding changes contemplated to Act 250. This debate and discussion is happening in the Natural Resources Committee which has a draft bill you can view here.

I have signed on to another version of changes,  H.197

Please stay in touch with your feedback and comments and if you submit testimony to the committee, please send me a copy.

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Public Hearings

  • Community-Based Public Hearings on the Governor’s Recommended FY2020 State Budget.

The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are seeking public input on the Governor’s Recommended FY2020 State Budget and will hold community-based public hearings on Monday, February 25, 2019, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the following 5 locations. An additional location in Springfield will be held from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

The Committees will take testimony on the Governor’s recommended State budget at the above dates and times. Anyone interested in testifying should come to one of the hearings. Time limits on testimony may apply depending on volume of participants. If you have a story you would like to share privately with the committee members, please contact Theresa to schedule this at the end of one of the hearings.To view or print a copy of the proposed budget, go to the Department of Finance and Management’s website at the following URL address: https://finance.vermont.gov/budget/budget-recommendations/operating-budget/fy2020For more information about the format of these events, or to submit written testimony, contact Theresa Utton-Jerman or Rebecca Buck attutton@leg.state.vt.us or rbuck@leg.state.vt.us or at 802-828-5767 or toll-free within Vermont at 1-800-322-5616. Requests for interpreters should be made by Friday, February 8

 

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A reminder: You’re landline telephone is supposed to be working and providing clear reliable communications, being repaired and new service installed in a timely fashion.  What to do if your land line phone is not working in Vermont

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In the news:

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Click here to monitor the bills I introduce, my committees work and my votes on roll call votes on the legislative website. You can also see what the House and Senate will be taking up each day and listen to proceedings live on VPR.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lhsibilia@gmail.com.
Kind regards,
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

Sibilia: Week 1 of the 2019 Vermont legislative session

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Vermont House of Representatives Oath of Office

A few brief notes on the start of the 2019 Vermont legislative session. Our district is the Windham/Bennington district, and so I try to work on regional Southern Vermont issues with members from the Windham and Bennington county districts.  There are several new southern Vermont legislators: Rep. Sarah Coffey of Guilford, Rep. Emiliee Kornheiser of Brattleboro and Rep. Nadar Hashim of Dummerston, Rep. Nelson Brownell of Pownal, Rep. Chris Bates of Bennington, Rep. Jim Carroll of Bennington, Rep. Kathleen James of Manchester and Rep. David Durfee of Shaftsbury.

The first short week is taken up with many formalities: we technically elect the Speaker of the House who assigns all members to committees of jurisdiction; this is where different subject matter legislation is first taken up and witnesses heard prior to votes by the entire House and Senate. This year I have been returned to the House Committee on Energy and Technology with new Chair Tim Briglin of Thetford. I am pleased to have been appointed by the Speaker to serve as the Vice Chair this year. Our committee will begin taking up telecommunications issues next week.

Other committee assignments of note, fellow Deerfield Valley Rep. John Gannon remains on the Government Operations Committee which deals with issues of elections and town governance. New Rep. Kathleen James is the only Southern Vermonter on either the House or Senate Education Committees. New Reps Kornheiser and Carroll and  img_3149returning Rep. Tristen Toleno of Brattleboro and Windham County Senator Becca Balint serve on the House and Senate Commerce Committees.

 

All Vermont Legislators take the oath of office, receive sexual harassment and safety training, and new legislators are seated in the House chamber. A large group of 40 new representatives was elected in the 2018 election. There are now 95 Democrats, 43 Republicans, 7 Progressives and 5 independents serving in the Vermont House.

Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson’s opening remarks and Governor Phil Scott’s Inaugural address each called for increased vigilance in how we treat one another and work together as we go about the people’s business. Each also spoke to the need to include all parts of Vermont in the economy as well as the need to expand telecommunications. Both the governor’s administration and the Speaker have been engaged in conversations throughout the Summer and Fall with individuals and groups working to address the telecommunications shortfalls once and for all.

VPR’s Pete Hirschfield provides a good early high level analysis here about 6 Issues to Watch During the 2019 Vermont Legislative Session

Coming up: The governor’s budget address will take place on Thursday January 24th at 2PM. Rep. Gannon and I hope to release the results of the 2019 Deerfield Valley Legislative Survey this week – be on the lookout.

Click here to monitor the bills I introduce, my committees work and my votes on roll call votes on the legislative website. You can also see what the House and Senate will be taking up each day and listen to proceedings live on VPR. I hope to send out a brief update every Friday afternoon or Saturday morning during this years legislative session.

Rep. Sibilia in the news:

Shutdown may delay feared FCC rule change

Local reaction varies to governor’s address

Will New England States Bolster Ranked Choice Voting in 2019?

Local media outlets collaborate over growing concern

Lawmakers to propose ranked-choice voting in upcoming session

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lhsibilia@gmail.com.
Kind regards,
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

 

Rep. Sibilia: Reflections on 2018 ~ Contemplating 2019

~ 2018 Reflections ~ Contemplating 2019 ~

This past year voters elected me to a third two-year term representing you in

 the Vermont Legislature.  Thank you for placing your trust in me. I will continue to work to represent our district with integrity and passion.

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Last session I served for a second year on the newly formed Energy and Technology Committee in the House. The former chair of this committee Rep. Steve Carr has retired and a new chair will be named for 2019. I was also appointed to the Joint House/Senate Information Technology Committee and the House Ethics Panel. There were a number of bills that I introduced or cosponsored, most having to do with education, telecommunications expansions and rural economic development which remain important issues in our district and our state.
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At the time the Rural Electrification Act was passed, electricity was commonplace in cities but largely unavailable in farms, ranches, and other rural places.

The Vermont House and Senate efforts on Net Neutrality and Data Privacy protections combined with the failure of the 2G CoverageCo rural cellular network and increasing declines in land line telephone system are pulling together coalitions and urgent conversations regarding the need to assess our entire telecommunications infrastructure, transmission, content development, privacy and access systems. This will be a significant part of our work in the coming years.

An important reminder about landline phone service: Storms and weather and accidents happen, and when they do we can briefly lose our landline telephone service. When that happens, it is important to let the phone company know you have lost service.
If you start having chronic issues with your landline phone service like significant delays (more then 48 hours) in repair time, repeated failure to solve the problem or repeated failure to schedule a technician or service it’s important to then let your elected officials and those individuals who regulate the phone company know what is happening.
When your land line stops working:
1. Call your service provider and report the problem. Note the date, time, name of the person who has taken your call and what they tell you they will do to solve your issue.
If you still do not have phone service for more then 24 hours after your initial call to the phone company:
2. Send an email to your State Representative with the following information:
    • What the name of the telephone carrier isfcc
    • What the address is where the problem is located
    • What the name of the account holder is at that address
    • The best means for the phone company to contact that person
    • What the problem is
    • When the problem started
    • How many times the phone company has been contacted
    • What they have said/done
2. If you still don’t have service 24 hours later, and there has been no follow up by the company
  • If your provider is Consolidated you can submit comments to the public service quality complaint that has been opened up: Go to the Vermont Public Utility Commission website and open case https://epuc.vermont.gov/?q=node/64/135508/FV-Case%20Summary-Portal and file a public comment by clicking on the drop down menu under “Case Details” and selecting “add a public comment”. Suggested info for public comment is same info included in the email to your State Representative.
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The possession and use of marijuana and a limited number of marijuana plants was legalized early in the past session. We will see proposals for a system to tax and regulate sales in this coming session.
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Several acts to reduce violence in our schools and communities were passed. In a perfect demonstration of a functioning democracy, opponents of the legislation have filed lawsuits and asked the Courts to decide if the Legislature and the Administration acted in a way that violates our Constitution. This is exactly how our system of checks and balances on power is supposed to work. There are at least three additional pieces of gun legislation that I am hearing may be introduced in 2019 – a 48 hour waiting period on gun purchases, a ban on 3-D printing of guns and a gun storage requirement. When and if these bills are introduced and considered, your specific examples of how you personally might be impacted by such laws will be helpful if we end up taking these bills up.
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This past year a special committee examined 50 years of Act 250 The Commission on Act 250: the Next 50 Years is a six-member legislative committee that was established to examine and report by December 15, 2018 on a broad list of issues relating to the State land use law known as Act 250, originally passed in 1970 and codified at 10 V.S.A. chapter 151. The draft report has recently been released. To publicly comment, please email Act250Comments@leg.state.vt.us
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 Education issues for our district and much of the state continue to revolve around Act 46

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River Valleys School Board Chair Rich Werner walks members of the public through expected tax implications on its first budget proposal

implementation.  Stamford continues to make progress on developing an interstate district with Clarksburg, MA.

The River Valley’s Unified District Board for Dover and Wardsboro has approved it’s first budget and projected it’s first tax rate and is preparing to go the voters at the River Valleys Unified School District Annual Meeting on February 12, 2019 at 7 pm at the Wardsboro Town Hall.
Whitingham’s lawsuit challenging the state’s education finance formula continues to move forward.
The Acting Secretary of Education produced a statutorily required plan on the alignment of all of Vermont’s school districts. The State Board of Education took testimony at public hearings, including my testimony, and crafted their Final Report of Decisions and Order on Statewide School District Mergers as required in Act 46.  New lawsuits are emerging from districts who have been recommended for forced merger.
Gov Scott proposed to alter student/staff ratios prior to receiving the statutorily required and funded student weighting study needed to ensure those ratios are implemented and felt equitably throughout the state.  He also successfully advocated for the use of one time funds to artificially lower property taxes for one year.
In 2018 Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcomb resigned and Gov. Scott appointed Dan French as the new Secretary of Education.  Long time legislator and former Chair of House Education and Vice Chair of Ways and Means Rep. Dave Sharpe retired which will almost certainly effect the tenor and type of education discussions the legislature has going forward.

In 2019 I anticipate there may be legislative proposals to hold some or all non-merged school districts harmless, to delay the effects of Act 46 for some or all non-merged districts or to reject some or all of the findings of the State Board of Education. I expect the Governor to propose major education finance changes, as he has every year. My support for those proposals always centers around two factors – not harming Vermont students and transparently helping Vermont taxpayers, in that order. Our local districts have complied with Act 46, but are still deeply challenged by the combination of our rural demographic challenges and the 20 year flawed education financing system. Locally we have more work to do and need to have that work supported. My efforts in the coming session will center around honoring the incredibly difficult and emotional work our communities have done so far, protecting the educational needs of our students and defending our taxpayers.
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In 2019 the Vermont Legislature will elect a new Adjutant General for the Vermont National Guard who will lead both the air and Army Guard in Vermont.  Legislators will choose between at two candidates. Vermont is the only state where the Adjutant is elected by the Legislature. If you are Guard Family or former Guard and have thoughts you’d like to share in advance of that election I would like to hear them.
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 must originate in the Vermont State Senate and can only be  proposed every four years. This is one of the years changes can be proposed. There will be a push for amendments that will create 4 year terms for Governor as well as establish civil and reproductive rights for Vermonters.
How does ranked-choice voting work?
How does Ranked Choice Voting Work

In addition, Rep. Ben Jickling of Randolph and I are working with Senator Chris Pearson of Burlington and other independents and Progressives on a bill which would bring Ranked Choice Voting to Vermont. Maine has recently utilized and the courts have upheld election results using Ranked Choice Voting. Massachusetts has a healthy public education campaign underway. We are looking forward to lots of public education on the benefits of ensuring candidates receive a majority vote and that all voters are able to have their votes considered in elections.

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The remote worker program has officially opened for applications as of January 1. This program reimburses individuals for some expenses to move to Vermont and work remotely. More information is available at the ThinkVermont website.
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Other issues we are hearing will be receiving legislative attention this session: Minimum Wage, Paid Family Leave, Water Quality, Climate Change
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Thank you to all who have taken our 2019 Legislative Survey.
Thus far we have 196 responses but are particularly light in responses from the under 35 crowd.

If you haven’t taken the survey, especially if you are a young person – please take the survey by Friday January 4th. Results will be published prior to the start of the new session on January 9th. The survey is designed to measure the attitudes and priorities of voters in the Deerfield Valley based on general topics and some specific proposals that we think will happen in the legislature this year.
 
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In 2018 I had some proud momma moments included my youngest daughter graduating from the UVM ROTC program as a nurse and 2LT in the U.S. Army and my son working all last winter in order to travel to France and Italy over the summer and then being able to watch him playing in the DIII Vermont high school soccer championship game this fall.  
Both of my daughters spent a fair amount of time in the State House during the debate and passage of

S.55 observing democracy in action and my oldest daughter has agreed to work with me part time during this year’s Session helping with research.
Proud to also share that my little brother graduated from the Vermont Police Academy this Fall and he is now working with Brattleboro Police Department.
 
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A final thought on 2018 – During the past four years I’ve been privileged to serve in the Vermont Legislature, I have had the added honor of sitting next to Rep. Kiah Morris of Bennington. Kiah was the only African American women serving in the Vermont House. Kiah has unexpectedly stepped away from serving in the House, and I have been reflecting on what I have learned since meeting her.
Kiah and I came into the House the same year and shared an immediate bond as Southern Vermont moms with young sons still at home. In our first term, we successfully worked together with a number of our colleagues on the creation of the Southern Vermont Economy Zone, a long term economic strategy which is already resulting in new collaborations and projects in Southern Vermont. It was eye opening to me each time I heard racist and discriminatory remarks in devotions, debate or comments in the Vermont House of Representatives including speeches on several civil and human rights measures Kiah had proposed which were so vitriolic they reduced visitors to tears. Watching the two self described local white supremacists harass her – sometimes daily and sometimes hourly over the years she served – equally as shocking. It’s hard to see what we don’t see.
Growing up and living in areas that are largely rural and almost exclusively white had afforded me virtually no opportunities to witness overtly racist acts. Out of sight, out of mind.  Sitting next to Kiah brought home to me the work that is still needed to combat racism and bigotry, even in Vermont. As our entire country continues to feel the demographic shifts of a globally connected economy, retiring baby boomers and lower birthrates, and we in rural Vermont continue to seek qualified employees for existing good paying jobs, people who want to start businesses and live here, enroll their students in our schools and enjoy the beauty, quiet and safety that keep us here, we have to start by asking (as my friend Kiah has asked me) “who deserves to be able to be here and to enjoy those things?”
Thank you for keeping me informed about your hopes, challenges and points of view last year – I hope you will continue in 2019 – Happy New Year!

2019 survey on the #Vermont Legislative session for the Deerfield Valley

This year I’m collaborating with fellow Deerfield Valley legislator Rep. John Gannon on a brief 16 question survey which is designed for you to weigh in on what areas you’d most like the legislature to spend their time on. There are a few additional questions about issues that could emerge during the 2018 Vermont political discussion. We are hoping you will consider giving some brief input prior to the the legislative session which begins January 9th and will likely go through early May.

This survey is intended for our constituents in Dover, Halifax, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham, and Wilmington but our weekend residents and neighbors are free to weigh in.  The only required questions are name and town of residence. The survey should take you about 5 minutes to complete if you choose to answer all of the remaining questions.

Take the survey

A reminder about the Consolidated Communications hearing in Readsboro Monday November 26th:  After a significant increase in repair and new service complaints this summer, the Department of Public Service petitioned the Public Utility Commission for an  investigation to be conducted. There will be two hearings statewide – one in Readsboro at the school on November 26th starting at 6:30 and another in St Albans at BF Academy on December 6th at 6:30. Please share this information with your neighbors and ask them to attend or file comments with the PUC on case #18-3231 if they have experienced a service quality or new installation issue. It seems likely that Vermont’s policymakers are not aware of the extent of the service quality issues, or the results of the billions of dollars of deferred maintenance. While we all want to see more internet and cellular service, unreliable land line phone service in areas without cell or internet poses significant dangers for vulnerable populations and public safety.

Please stay in touch with issues of concern,

Rep. Laura Sibilia

Rep. Sibilia: Voting, PUC hearings on Consolidated Communications

Good evening/morning,
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th. You must be registered to vote in the town you currently reside in. In Vermont you can register the day of the election. Information on Vermont’s voting laws is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
This year, we have contested elections for U.S. Senator, U.S. Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor and State Senate. I am running uncontested for re-election to represent you in the House of Representatives and ask for your vote. You may write in a name for any office. Just about every election in Vermont we are reminded that the individuals vote counts a lot. Many races have been won with one or two votes and a number of statewide elections have not resulted in a candidate receiving a majority of the votes and required the legislature to choose the winner. Please vote!
Dover Town Hall                              7:00 AM
Readsboro Central School            10:00 AM
Searsburg Town Clerks Office     10:00 AM
Stamford Elementary School          8:00 AM
Wardsboro Town Office                  9:00 AM
Whitingham Municipal Center     10:00 AM
All polls close at 7:00 PM
Results will be posted as they come in at the Secretary of State’s elections results web page.
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Consolidated Communications hearings
 
Southern Vermont: READSBORO November 26th 
Northern Vermont: SAINT ALBANS December 6th
Time and locations TBD 
 
The Vermont Department of Public Service has petitioned the Vermont Public Utilities commission for an investigation into the service quality provided by Consolidated Communications, Inc. In seeking the investigation, the Department noted that the number of consumer complaints received from Consolidated customers related to service outages between July and September of 2018 has increased by 2,760% over the same period in the previous year and that the number of complaints related to installation delays between July and September of 2018 has increased 500% over the same period in 2017. The Department has been conducting an informal inquiry into the complaints and Consolidated is cooperating with the inquiry.
Please share: I personally have received multiple reports of elderly, handicapped or geographically isolated customers safety having been compromised by service quality issues (5 and 10 day repair times for instance). It is important for state regulators to understand the magnitude of the service quality challenges. If you have experienced poor quality telephone service, lengthy repair or installation times please consider testifying in person or you can provide testimony online at the Vermont Public Utility Commission Online Portal for case #18-3231-PET
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Act 46 news 
The State Board of Education has recently accepted the Secretary of Education recommendations for the Searsburg and Stamford Interstate District Alternative Structure proposals. Many many thanks for the countless hours both groups have put forward on behalf of their students and taxpayers in order to fulfill their districts obligations under Act 46.
Congratulations to the new River Valleys Unified School District board  for their recent award from BCTV: Municipal Partner of the Year.

“River Valleys Unified School District Board was created last summer following the unification of Dover and Wardsboro School Districts under Act 46. The River Valleys USD Board turned to BCTV to video its bi-weekly meetings as a way to engage and provide transparency. And, in fact, thanks to the board’s promotional efforts, most of the meetings have received hundreds of views.

‘It’s gratifying to get so many views, and critical that those who can’t attend can get the full flavor of the somewhat complex process,” said Board Chair Richard Werner. “In addition, it’s been a benefit to all of us to be able to review the videos as work progresses.'”

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Open enrollment period is November 1 through December 15th more info 
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Highlights from this summer/fall
 
Ditch School in Wardsboro with Gary Urbanati
 
Readsboro meeting w/Agency of Digital Services & Department of Public Service
 

Community forums in Wardsboro, Dover, Readsboro and Stamford & healthcare forum in Whitingham

Toured Great River Hydro Facilities 

Attended dedication of 
Gold Star Families Memorial
State Board of Education Act 46 Alternative Structures Hearing
 
Grew a contender for World’s Smallest Gilfeather Turnip


A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit
Attended and spoke at: A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit in Denver


Listened to this excellent VPR Podcast series on Jack Sawyer and Vermont’s gun debate


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These posts have been made to my website and to social media since the end of the 2018 session

 Opportunity: #Vermont Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) program

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Please stay engaged and stay in touch via email lhsibilia@gmail.com or phone 802-384-0233. If you’d like to receive updates from my blog as they are posted please check out www.laurasibiliavt.com.
Laura
Rep. Laura Sibilia
State Representative
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

In defense of the most politically diverse legislative body in the country #vtpoli

It feels like our nation is collectively holding its breath waiting for election day and praying for some check on this dangerous Presidency.

In the whole course of history, it has never been true that one party had a monopoly on good ideas, common sense, or the pulse of the people. One party controlling the House, Senate and Executive Branch does not make for good government for all Americans. Particularly when that party elects to work in a partisan manner, because they can, and disregards a large portion of the electorate. Including, especially, the 40% of independent Americans who don’t consider themselves partisan at all. We desperately need a check on the Republicans in Washington D.C. who have failed to limit the self-proclaimed nationalist occupying the Oval Office and so count me in as hopeful we will see a strong blue wave roll into D.C. on November 6th.

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The Deeper Dig: In search of a supermajority  Oct 26 2018 By Mike Dougherty

Americans and Vermonters don’t like how things work under an unchecked super-majority. They want leaders who will compromise, collaborate and work to solve problems, but our country’s two-party system does not readily reward that type of governing. Nonetheless, Vermonters historically have been comfortable taking a different way than the rest of the country, and thus far we seem to have staved off the worst of the increasingly alarming partisan dysfunction.

In the last election Vermonters sent divided government to Montpelier: a moderate and

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Modeling bipartisanship for Vermont students: Democratic Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson and Republican Representative Heidi Scheuermann breaking from last year’s heavily contested budget debate (for multiple false fire alarms) give an impromptu bipartisan civics lesson.

courageous Republican governor, a Progressive Democratic Senate and the most politically diverse legislative body in the country,  the Vermont House of Representatives led by a Democratic Speaker of The House who operates on the premise that including all voices and parties ensures better problem solving. Speaker Mitzi Johnson has presided over a body that included the most elected centrist independents in the country, independents like Ben Jickling of Brookfield and Ed Read of Fayston who help the Democratic majority craft and pass more balanced legislation, and moderate Democrats like Rural Economic Development Working Group Co-Chair Chip Conquest of Newbury and socially moderate/fiscally conservative Republicans like Heidi Scheuermann of Stowe and Fred Baser of Bristol as well as seven elected Progressives. There is no other legislative body in the country that houses this many different political parties and elected centrist independents.

The resulting implementation and creation of Vermont policy is managed by a governor willing to buck the national Republican party and also willing to veto the democratically controlled legislature and a House of Representatives with a political prejudice towards the center.  This divided government set-up, while uncomfortable for the most partisan Vermonters and party leaders, and more reliant on the threat of gubernatorial veto than would be needed with a more politically diverse Senate, actually works fairly well. There is always room for improvement, but not by wiping out bipartisan collaboration.

Which brings us back to the national election and that big blue wave that looks like it could be a tsunami in Vermont. Vermonters are also Americans and Americans are scared about where we are headed with our national politics. We are seeing voluminous early voter turn-out in the Green Mountain state and reports from door to door canvassing that there is a strong desire to punish national Republicans for not providing a check on our self-proclaimed nationalist president. Hopefully Vermonters direct their anger precisely and not generally. If you are currently being represented by a centrist independent, a moderate Republican or Democrat, think long and hard before opting to punish our president by punishing those moderates who commit to bipartisanship function and political courage in Vermont. It takes courage to run and serve without a party and it also takes courage to tell your party no.  Hopefully the “blue wave” is able to bring a check to Washington without taking out moderates in Vermont. We need balanced and knowledgeable legislators to get things done. This is a reminder that your vote is not just symbolic.