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!
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
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.
“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.'”
Open enrollment period is November 1 through December 15th more info
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
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
These posts have been made to my website and to social media since the end of the 2018 session
We are winding down from soccer with our son and looking forward to the holiday return of our girls. I’m thinking more and more about the coming legislative session, and there are a number of public input sessions I want you to know about further on in this email.
This year I’m hoping you will consider giving some brief input prior to the the legislative session which begins January 3rd and will likely go through early May. I’ve compiled a brief 10 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.
This survey is intended for my constituents in Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham, but our weekend residents and neighbors are free to weigh in. The only required questions are name and town of residence.
I have scheduled two meetings with constituents in Dover and Wardsboro and hope to see you there:
Dover Town Hall November 28th 6:30-8
Wardsboro Town Hall November 30th 6:30 – 8
In addition I will be attending the Stamford School District meeting on November 14th from 7-9 pm.
And the Twin Valley, Whitingham, Wilmington meeting with Rep. John Gannon in Wilmington on December 19th at 6 pm.
Upcoming statewide hearings of interest:
Rural Caucus Hearing: The Rural Development Caucus will hold a Public Hearing at the State House from 5–7 pm on Tuesday, November 7 to hear from municipal, business, education, and nonprofit interests in rural Vermont about what the most pressing issues are for rural Vermont. The press release and instructions on how to testify are available here.
Equifax data security breach: The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development will meet to hold hearings around the State to discuss issues related to privacy and data security breaches. Representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Financial Regulation, and the Office of Legislative Council will join the Committee in presenting a brief summary of current law and recommended responses to security breaches.
The Committee will hear from the public their questions, experience with breaches, concerns, and suggestions. This topic is a continuation of the Committee’s work last session, and of particular interest in light of current events in relation to the Equifax breach. A list of meeting dates and locations is available below. Sign-up will begin 30 minutes prior to the hearing’s start time.
Thursday, November 9th
12:30 p.m. Springfield Town Offices Selectmen’s Hall 96 Main Street Springfield, VT
5:30 p.m. Barton Village Office 17 Village Square Barton, VT
Tuesday, November 14th
12:30 p.m. Manchester Community Library Hunter Community Room 138 Cemetery Avenue Manchester Center, VT
6:00 p.m. Department of Health Conference Room 2B 108 Cherry Street Burlington, VT
December 15th deadline – Open Enrollment: Open enrollment is the time of year when you can make changes to your Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont or MVP Healthcare insurance coverage. The new plan year begins January 1, 2018. If you want to change plans, you should call the Vermont Health Connect Customer Support Center or log into your account. If you don’t contact them and confirm a plan choice by December 15, 2017, you likely won’t be able to change plans until the next Open Enrollment.
As you may recall, former Rep. Oliver Olsen and I have been fighting for years to commission a study of pupil counting, as we believe that the current system unfairly harms rural districts with small population densities, and we fought hard to have this study included in an act of the General Assembly. We were finally successful in the 2017 session.
There is a fight brewing with AOE on whether or not this study will be done. Right now they are refusing.
The chronically flawed funding formula which does not scale for size, the failure to capitalize on last year’s unique opportunity for significant savings through establishing statewide equitable healthcare benefits for education staff, increases in healthcare costs, the pending Act 46 incentives and other non-locally voted on expenses are going to result in yet another increase in property taxes this year.
Without changes to the way we count students, it is a virtual certainty that rural districts will be asked to make more substantial cuts then more population dense districts, once again unfairly and unequally hurting kids. This study is the next important “tweek” needed for Vermont’s broken education financing mechanism. It has been needed for many many years. There is near universal consensus this formula does not work. I am frustrated with the lack of transparency at all levels of state government about the non-local drivers of education property taxes.
Perhaps with last weeks news out of Whitingham there is light at the end of this very long tunnel for our taxpayers and our students.
Some positive economic development progress stories from our district:
As always, thank you for providing feedback and suggestions. Please don’t hesitate to call or email with questions or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.