Town Meeting Week Report, Franklin-5
Dear Constituents –
If I was unable to attend your Town Meeting in person, I’ve prepared this report for your awareness of legislation in the Vermont General Assembly. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns.
My committee, House Government Operations & Military Affairs, according to our webpage: “considers matters relating to the structure, organization, and oversight of State, local, county, and regional government, and municipal corporations; the administration of public safety; compensation and retirement benefits for public officials and employees; elections and reapportionment; liquor and lottery; military affairs; public records and open meetings; information technology and cybersecurity; and other similar policies.” This is a broad and varied portfolio with a steep learning curve. For the first eight weeks of the session, we have taken a deep dive into several of our policy areas, including elections, cannabis regulation, law enforcement officer training and administration, and professional regulation.
In addition to learning about one’s policy areas of jurisdiction, a legislator must learn how their committee’s policy decisions affect the State’s statutorily mandated balanced budget, and we must be mindful of other committee’s legislation that interacts with ours and with the overall budgeting process. It is a complex dance, and the challenge is to work together to benefit all Vermonters.
With the Democratic Party once again in a super-majority position, and being of the minority Republican Party, I made it my goal for this biennium to work with members, regardless of party affiliation, if the end result would benefit my district and not adversely affect other regions of the State. To that end, I am co-chairing the VT Rural Caucus with an Independent and a Democrat to address issues pertaining to rural Vermont. With the hard work of the Administration and House and Senate leadership to hammer out the details, the Budget Adjustment Act (H.145) contains a $3M appropriation for rural technical assistance capacity that, if passed and signed by the Governor, will benefit the towns in Vermont that have the most need for administrative services to identify grants and other funding for infrastructure projects, prepare the paperwork for those grants, plan and manage those projects, and see them completed by the ARPA deadline in 2025. There is an immediacy for municipalities to make decisions on what their needs are and how to act on them because they stand to leave that money on the table if they don’t meet the deadline. Many of our towns, without adequate administrative capacity to take on these critical roles, will miss out on unprecedented federal funding for long-neglected projects, such as drinking water and wastewater upgrades, as well as for broadband, roads and other infrastructure needs.
Additional work that I do on behalf of Vermonters at the Statehouse also involves co-chairing the VT National Guard & Military Affairs Caucus (with a Democrat and an Independent). The primary goal of this Caucus is to be a liaison between the National Guard, the General Assembly, and our constituents and to advocate for legislation to honor and assist current military members, veterans, and their families. This work has been rewarding and challenging, and I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in this way. Current legislation is in support of reduced property taxes for disabled veterans (H.264), a 100% income tax exemption for military pensions and survivors’ benefits (H.255), and an expansion of the National Guard Tuition Benefits Program (H.99).
Other bills that I’ve sponsored or co-sponsored this year may be found by searching the General Assembly website under my profile; a sampling of those include: H.11, relating to commercial insurance coverage of epinephrine auto-injectors; H.48, relating to solid waste management; H.68, relating to removing State and municipal regulatory barriers for fair zoning and housing affordability; H.109, relating to reimbursement for home-delivered meals (Meals on Wheels); H.111, relating to workforce housing; H.124, relating to promoting rural economic development capacity; H.128, relating to removing regulatory barriers for working lands businesses; H.234, relating to regional support for animal control services; H.263, relating to emergency medical services; H.278, relating to post secondary opportunities for Vermont career technical education students; H.340, relating to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program; H.348, relating to requiring licensed athletic trainers at secondary school athletic events and practices; H.367, relating to promoting economic development, administrative capacity, and vitality in rural communities. Many of these bills address the critical needs of Vermonters throughout the State in areas of childcare, housing, food insecurity, and education, as well as capacity needs of small municipalities. With regard to any “S. bills”, at this time, please direct your questions to our Senators, Randy Brock and Robert Norris.
Stay well, Rep Lisa A Hango, Berkshire