Rep. Sibilia: Week 5 of the #Vermont Legislative Session

Good evening!

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Buy this Netflix & Chill cake at L’Orchidee in London

My latest oped title “Let Them Stream Netflix” will be posted later this evening. It has to do with the current situation with Vermont’s rural landline telephone service.

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img_3280This week the legislature spent a considerable amount of time debating H.39 which provides extensions to Act 46 timetables for districts that have been recommended for forced merger by the State Board of Education. The House passed a proposal that provided several different limited time period extensions. The Senate is unlikely to take up the proposed extensions until a court hearing on a preliminary injunction filed by school districts – which asks for  a moratorium on consolidation – likely in mid-February.

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

Schedule of upcoming meetings
Annual Meeting February 12, 2019 at 7:00 PM, Wardsboro Town Hall
– 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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Results from the 2019 Deerfield Valley Legislative survey are available here!

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This week I co-sponsored H.66 An act relating to survivor benefits for law enforcement officers

In the event that a firefighter or EMT/paramedic dies tragically in the line of duty, his or her family is eligible to receive a one-time payment from the state. However, this same type of assistance is not offered to the families of police officers in Vermont.

As it stands, under state law, a review board determines whether the spouse, child, or parent of a firefighter or EMT killed in the line of duty or from an occupational illness will receive a one-time payment of $50,000 from the state. These funds come at a critical time for families, who are not only mourning the loss of a loved one but must also pay for their ongoing expenses as they rebuild their lives.

The Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police (VACOP) endorsed Bill H.66 earlier this week, which would amend state law to include the surviving spouses, children, and parents of police officers who die in the line of duty.

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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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From article written by Rep. Theresa Wood – member House Human Services Committee:

Facts matter.  And so do emotions.  H.57 – “An act relating to preserving the right to abortion” has been the subject of intense, often emotional debate and testimony in the State House over the last three weeks.  Perhaps the most visible of this debate occurred during the public hearing attended by hundreds of Vermonters – both pro and against the bill.

As proposed, the bill recognizes the fundamental right to the freedom of reproductive choice for women.  Because this is an emotionally charged issue, it is important to understand some of the facts. This bill does not change current practice in Vermont, or in fact, the practice as it has been for more than 40 years since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade – notably one of the Supreme Court’s most controversial decisions.  Given the politics in Washington, there is considerable debate about whether the Supreme Court will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade and leave it entirely up to individual states.

This bill does not allow for partial or full birth abortions that are specifically prohibited by the 2003 “Partial Birth Abortion Act” enacted by Congress.  All medical providers must comply with this federal law. The bill does not change the ability of a woman to sue for wrongful death if something goes wrong during her pregnancy. Testimony revealed that abortions in Vermont are declining – that’s good news.  They are declining because of improved education and increased access to family planning and birth control. In Vermont, 1.3 percent of abortions occurred later in pregnancy – only because of the mother’s health or viability of the child – not for elective purposes of the mother.  No elective late term abortions are performed in Vermont according to the Vermont Medical Society.

The House Human Services Committee has added two amendments: the first to remove the section that stated, “A fertilized egg, embryo or fetus shall not be considered a person.”  This amendment passed, and that section is now omitted from the bill. They also added reference to the federal statute banning partial or full birth abortions. With these two amendments, the bill passed out of the House Human Services Committee by a vote of 8 – 3.

The bill has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee which will begin taking testimony next week.  It will come to the House floor for a full vote later this month and then, if passed, it will move to the Senate.  It is fair to say that there will be other amendments offered along the way, so if you want to watch the progress of the bill you can do so on the legislative website:   https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/H.57

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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
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