Lisa Hango

  • Legislative Update - April 12, 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    Post-Eclipse: the Statehouse is back to its usual rhythm. Committees are digging into bills passed over from the other body, taking testimony, and prioritizing for the end of session. Rumor has it that we have just four weeks until adjournment; the second half of the session always seems to go faster than the first half!

    In House Government Operations, we’ve begun our work on: S.310 (natural disaster government response, recovery, and resiliency); S.42 (divestment of state pension funds in the fossil fuel industry); HR.18 (House Resolution calling for Franklin County Sheriff to resign); and S.220 (relating to Vermont’s Public Libraries) and continued our work on S.55 (changes to Open Meeting Law).  These bills are all complex pieces of legislation, demanding much more testimony and consideration than I think we have time left for in the session.

    If you’d like to learn more about these bills, go to the House Government Operations webpage, open the tab “bills in/out of committee”, click on the bill number, then “drafts and amendments”, and choose the highest draft number to click on for the latest version. Please feel welcome to pass along your comments to the Committee (email addresses are found on the home page for the Committee).

    On the House Floor, we passed: S.659 (relating to captive insurance); S.25 (regulating cosmetic and menstrual products containing certain chemicals and chemical classes and textiles and athletic turf fields containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs)), with an amendment to change the threshold of lead from 5ppm to 10 ppm; and H.543 (Vermont’s adoption of the Social Work Licensure Compact).

    If you’d like to learn more about these bills, type the letter and number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website and click on either “as passed by the House” or “as passed by the Senate” to get the most up-to-date version.

    In Rural Caucus, we reviewed the progress of bills pertaining to rural Vermont and discussed potential vehicles to move those that aren’t making progress and future plans.

    I am continuing to follow bills of interest to my constituents as they make their way through the process, as well as representing the interests of the Vermont National Guard and veterans in various committees. The VT NG&VA Caucus, of which I am a Co-Chair, values the contributions the Guard makes to Vermont and is grateful for the sacrifices made by the many veterans who call Vermont home.

    Please reach out to me at [email protected] with questions or concerns.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5

     

     


  • Legislative Update - 5 April 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    The Statehouse this week was eerily quiet.  With the snowstorm sending members home early and the abrupt end to frantic crossover activity, we had plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the living museum that we work in and to catch up with everything that’s been put on hold for the past three weeks as we worked very long hours. In the Government Operations Committee, we took up the following new bills : S.55 (authorizing public bodies to meet electronically under Vermont’s Open Meeting Law), which should be of great interest to municipal officials ; and S.310 (natural disaster government response, recovery, and resiliency), both of which were brought to us as passed by the Senate. If constituents wish to testify on these bills, please reach out at [email protected]. To learn more, please enter the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website.  A few bills were passed on the House Floor : H.872 (amendments to the charter of Barre Town) ; H.884 (modernization of governance for the St Albans Cemetery Association) ; H.874 (misc education bill) ; S.190 (statements made by a child victim of an offense involving serious bodily injury) ; H.876 (misc amendments to corrections laws) ; and H.882 (Capital Bill).

    In Rural Caucus, we heard from the sponsors of S.213 (regulation of wetlands, river corridor development, and dam safety), another bill that has just come over from the Senate worth taking a look at. We also had a brief and very timely tax presentation from the Public Assets Institute  where we learned that many Vermonters qualify for Vermont's anti-poverty tax credits (the Vermont Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit). But if families don't file their taxes, they won't receive the credits. After April 15th, families can still file for the credits, but they may have to pay a late fee. Go to TaxCreditsVT.org for information about what the credits are, if you qualify, and how to file for them for free.

    Please also note that the NMV/E-R UUSD school districts will be holding informational budget meetings at the following times:

    NMV: April 13 10am - Berkshire Elementary School, April 15 6:30pm - Sheldon Elementary School, April 24 6:30pm - Bakersfield Elementary School, April 29 6:30pm - Montgomery Elementary School ** REVOTE is April 30 at your polling location or absentee ballot. ERUUSD: April 16 6pm - Richford Jr/Sr High School, April 23 6pm - Enosburg Falls Middle/High School. ** REVOTE is April 30 at your polling location or absentee ballot

    It is an honor to serve you in the Vermont Statehouse.  Please reach out with questions or concerns.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango


  • Legislative Update - 29 March 2024

    Dear Constituents -

    The Legislature is digging out from under the backload of bills passed ahead of the policy and money crossover deadlines. The week began with a Joint Assembly for Judicial Retention and a ceremonial reading of the Medal of Honor Resolution. Throughout the course of the week, the House passed the following bills to the Senate: H.612 (miscellaneous cannabis amendments); H.622 (Emergency Medical Services); H.655 (qualifying offenses for sealing criminal history records and access to sealed criminal history records); H.702 (legislative operations and government accountability); H.878 (miscellaneous judiciary procedures); H.877 (miscellaneous agricultural subjects); H.585 (amending the pension system for sheriffs and certain deputy sheriffs); H.630 (boards of cooperative education services); H.880 (increasing access to the judicial system); H.721 (access to Medicaid and Dr Dynasaur); H.546 (miscellaneous tax bill); H.873 (testing for and remediation of PCBs in schools); H.687 (community resilience and biodiversity protection through land use); H.833 (the Budget) is concerning because of the amount of money contained within other bills isn’t found in this version! You can see the text of these bills in the online Journal of the House, with any amendments and roll call votes. A hotly-debated bills was H.687, aka the Act 250 bill masquerading as a housing bill.  This bill and its 14 individual amendments spurred 5 hours of debate, with members from rural Franklin Co speaking out against the overly-restrictive new triggers and the lack of incentives to build new housing. The number of amendments alone tell a story – the bill came out of committee through a top-down process that was not inclusive of folks who advocated for Act 250 reform. My remarks on the Floor captured the frustration of the Rural Caucus: “We convened this session with the affirmation by all parties that Vermont has a housing crisis, and finding a way forward to building more housing would be of the highest priority. We had a tripartisan housing bill that pulled together the goals of all of our constituencies across the state. It got no attention. To that end, over the Fall, driven by the need to modernize ACT 250 jurisdiction and governance, three crucial stakeholder groups met and did the work to form a coalition that prioritized a fragile balance between land conservation and increased housing construction; the housing bills put forward did just that. The committee almost exclusively focused on H.687 this session, and it fails to honor the provisions of that hard-earned collaboration that the three published reports represent. Instead, the bill disregards the laudable progress made by those study groups and a request by the Rural Caucus to streamline and modernize the process to make it simpler to build housing, and significantly expands Act 250 triggers to impact over 97% of Vermont land. This new map shows that our state’s most rural towns will be disproportionately penalized, and these new triggers will stunt the economies of those communities by making it nearly impossible to build much-needed housing to support the workforce of local industries and public services. Our rural communities do not have the resources to jump through the hoops that are being proposed to enable significant housing development, and without that infrastructure, nor will they be able to adequately respond to what is required of them. I urge members to join me in voting against this bill and standing up for all Vermont communities that have been waiting decades for the opportunity to bring their economies into the 21st century”.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango

     

     

     


  • Legislative Update - 22 March 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    Vermont is unaffordable, and this Legislature is making it even more so. Despite efforts by a minority-led coalition voting against legislation that contributes to the creep in new programs and government positions, study committees, task forces, and increased costs for anyone who pays for utility rates, insurance premiums, DMV fees, payroll taxes, and property taxes, this a burden that Vermonters just cannot sustain. Much of the legislation passed affects all of us in our day-to-day lives, and Vermonters are making it known that they’ve had enough. The minority in the General Assembly hears this loud and clear – we vote against tax and fee increases, but the supermajority hasn’t gotten the message. Their agendas must be passed, regardless of the effect on constituents from all walks of life.  Vermonters need to stay informed and use that knowledge to inform their actions when they choose their government officials, at all levels.

    Bill language can be read by typing the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website.  As of Thursday, March 21, bills that passed the House and will go to the Senate for further consideration: H.279 (Uniform Trust Decanting Act); H.350 (Uniform Directed Trust Act); H.868 (2025 Transportation Program); H.794 (services provided by the VT Veterans Home); H.741 (health insurance coverage for colorectal cancer); H.667 (creation of the VT-Ireland Trade Commission); H.644 (access to records by individuals who were in foster care); H.614 (land improvement fraud and timber trespass); H.606 (professional licensure and immigration status); H.173 (prohibiting manipulating a child for purposes of sexual contact); H.233 (pharmacy benefit management and Medicaid wholesale drug distribution); H.867 (miscellaneous amendments to the laws governing alcoholic beverages and the Dept of Liquor and Lottery); H.664 (designating a State mushroom); H.10 (amending the VT Employment Growth Incentive Program); H.621 (health coverage for diagnostic breast imaging); H.661 (child abuse and neglect investigation and substantiation standards and procedures); H.704 (compensation disclosure in job advertisement); H.289 (Renewable Energy Standards); H.878 (miscellaneous judiciary procedures); H.706 (banning the use of neonicotinoid pesticides); and H.121 (enhancing data privacy). There is not enough space in this column to describe each bill, but it is imperative to call your attention to H.289, the Renewable Energy Standards, which would require utilities to use 100% renewable sources by 2030 (2035 for smaller utilities), necessitating upgrades to transmission lines and infrastructure, which costs would be passed on to rate-payers; I urge you to learn what this legislation could mean for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Representatives and Senators about any of the bills that you are hearing about. You can locate their contact info by typing your town into the Legislator tracker on the General Assembly website. I can be reached at [email protected], and I am honored to represent you.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango

     


  • Legislative Update - 15 March 2024

    Dear Constituents -

    Friday, March 15 marked the midpoint of the Legislative session with crossover day, and all bills with viability, unless they contain appropriations, have moved to the other body in the Legislature for further review. Those that do require appropriations have an extra week to pass to the other chamber.

    This week in House Government Operations & Military Affairs, we continued to take testimony at a frantic pace, producing draft after draft of legislation as we tried to keep up with all the changes generated from committee members’ questions, wording gotten “not quite right”, and outside meetings that happened after hours to rework the language to try to “get to a yes vote”. Bills that passed out of the committee just this week are: H.702 (legislative operations and government accountability); H.872 (VT criminal justice council amendments); H.606 (professional licensure and immigration status); H.644 (access to records by individuals in foster care); H.622 (Emergency Medical Services); H.140 (state-funded grants); H.845 (designating November as Vermont Month of the Veteran); H.585 (amending the pension system for sheriffs and certain deputy sheriffs); H.875  (State & Municipal Code of Ethics); and H.626 (Animal Welfare).

    On the House Floor, we had an extended debate on S.18 (banning flavored tobacco products and e-liquids) and a long debate on H.645 (expansion of approaches to restorative justice); we also passed H.534 (retail theft), H.870 (professions and occupations regulated by the Office of Professional Regulation); H.766 (prior authorization and step therapy requirements, health insurance claims, provider contracts, and collection of cost-sharing amounts); H.856 (medical leave for a serious injury). We also had the distinct pleasure of honoring Torpedoman Henry Breault, on the 100th anniversary of him being awarded the Medal of Honor; he was the first enlisted man to have ever received the Medal, for saving the life of his fellow submariner while in the Panama Canal.

    If you would like to read more about these bills (and those passed by the Senate), you can type the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website and click on the most updated version of that bill (“As passed by the House” or “As passed by the Senate”, official or unofficial).  You may also explore that webpage further and click on “details” below the passed bill language for any roll call votes to see how your Representative or Senator voted on that bill.

    The next steps for these bills will involve taking more testimony in sister committees in the other body. They stand to be changed in many ways. You can follow the progress in the committees where the bill is assigned by viewing that committee’s posted agendas. All committee hearings are available recorded on YouTube through the General Assembly website. Please reach out to me at [email protected].

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango


  • Legislative Update - 23 February 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    The pace at the Statehouse is picking up – every Committee has its eye on crossover (March 15 for policy bills and March 22 for money bills) and is taking testimony fast and furiously.  The House Government Ops Committee heard brand-new bills (H.622 EMS, draft expansion of Optometric scope of practice, and recommendations from the Criminal Justice Council) this week – do we expect to pass those, too?? We continue to hear from the same witnesses repeatedly on H.612 miscellaneous amendments to cannabis statutes, miscellaneous amendments to alcoholic beverage statues, and both the State and Municipal Codes of Ethics, each time with changes to the proposed language – my sense is that none of these will be ready for prime time on March 15. The sponsors don’t seem to have vetted their proposals very thoroughly ahead of time. We have briefly touched on budget issues and education finance, which should be the major focus of every committee at the Statehouse this session: trying to solve the issues of how to build more housing, help more Vermonters live independent lives, and take care of the most vulnerable among us, while refraining from making Vermont so unaffordable and so unsafe that everyone who can moves away.

    The House Floor saw little action again, passing H.861 an act relating to reimbursement parity for healthcare services delivered in person, by telemedicine, and by audio-only telephone, H.132 an act relating to discrimination based on housing status, and H.745 the Vermont Parentage Act.

    Our VT Rural Caucus heard from the sponsor of S.55, which is an act relating to the Open Meeting Law, and Commissioner Danielle Fitzco on the Forest Futures Strategic Roadmap, a look-ahead to where the forest economy can thrive and how to get there. To that end, the Rural Caucus has been talking about Act 250 regulatory reform and how that could positively affect rural Vermont communities.  We are actively engaging with House leadership to put forth an agenda to relax reform where development makes sense and to protect land reasonably while allowing for economic growth, such as we see with forestry and farming-related businesses.

    The next few weeks promise to be a roller-coaster ride! If you have questions or concerns, please reach out at [email protected].  It is an honor to serve as your Representative. Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5


  • Legislative Update - 16 February 2024

     Dear Constituents -

    The biggest Statehouse news of interest to constituents this week is H.850, a bill developed by House Ways & Means and House Education to “fix” a loophole in Act 127 from 2023.  When the implementation of the new pupil weighting system formula that determines the tax capacity of a school district with respect to the needs of its individual student population was enacted, a 5% cap was included for certain districts that needed a “soft landing” for a few years because they would be losing tax capacity.  Keep in mind that as a result of Act 60 in 1997, Vermont has a statewide education fund that all taxpayers pay into, and all school districts receive funding from. Also, not all students cost the same to educate (for instance, students who are multi-language learners or who live in poverty are are more expensive to expensive to educate, as are high schoolers vs preschoolers). Unfortunately, there were some districts across the state that submitted budgets over the 5% cap “because they could”, and that resulted in warned budgets that greatly exceeded education spending from last year and could cause all of our property taxes to rise, regardless of how many fiscally frugal districts submitted reasonable budgets. H.850, which passed the House and is in the Senate, seeks to remedy this by allowing for school districts who wish to re-work their budgets to hold that vote up until April 15. It also provides a discount for those districts that lost tax capacity due to the aforementioned changes in the pupil weighting formula.

    Also on the House Floor, we passed: H.247 the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact; H.563 an act relating to criminal motor vehicle offenses involving unlawful trespass, theft, or unauthorized operation; H.649 amendments to the VT Truth and Reconciliation Commission; H.801 amendments to the Town of Waterbury charter; and S.154 an act relating to the Vermont State Plane Coordinate System.  We sent H.839 the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA) to a Committee of Conference and elected two trustees of the Vermont State College System and the Adjutant and Inspector General of the Vermont National Guard.  Of note, we are the only state in the US that still elects the TAG.

    In Committee, we continued our work on: H.612 miscellaneous amendments to cannabis statutes; a state and a municipal code of ethics; H.626 animal welfare; miscellaneous amendments to the Department of Liquor and Lottery statutes; H.794 services provided to the Vermont Veterans Home; and H.641 authorizing boards of abatement to hear like cases as a class. I spent some time in House Appropriations hearing about the military budget.

    In Rural Caucus this week, our NRPC Regional Planner presented a model of smart development based on the village of Richford VT that could be replicated throughout the state in communities whose downtowns lie in river corridors. We also heard from a local forester about development in rural areas outside of downtowns and the VLCT on Act250.

    It is an honor to serve – [email protected]

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango


  • Legislative Update - 9 February 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    Committee work kept us busy at the Vermont Statehouse this week.  The House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee dug into several bills: H.549 siting of cannabis cultivation; H.726 compliance checks by the Dept of Liquor and Lottery; H.426 creation of new cannabis licenses; State and municipal ethics committee bills (not numbered); H.730 uniformly removing members of State Boards and Commissions; H.667 Vermont-Ireland Trade Commission; H.801 Town of Waterbury charter change; miscellaneous Committee Dept of Liquor and Lottery bill; H.641 authorizing boards of abatement to hear like cases as a class; and S.154 VT State Plane Coordinate System. Our portfolio is wide and varied; if you would like to learn more about these bills, they can be found by using the bill tracker function on the General Assembly website or looking at our Committee webpage.

    On the House floor, our business was completed quickly. We passed H.666 an act relating to escrow deposit bonds; H.751 an act expanding equal pay protections; and H.849 the annual Technical Corrections bill.

    Of note, the Senate passed H.839 the Budget Adjustment Act, with further amendments, so that bill will now go to a Committee of Conference, which will result in a compromise bill to send to the Governor.

    At the Rural Caucus this week, we heard presenters from two perspectives on how Act 250 appeals should be heard. Act 250 is our 50+ year old land use law, and it is long overdue to be modernized. Without reforms to the statutes, creation of new housing for all Vermonters will continue to lag far behind demand for housing.  For more information on proposed changes to the law, the VT Natural Resources Board website is a good place to start with the results of the “Necessary Updates to Act 250” study. H.719 and the Senate Economic Development Committee bill, the “BE HOME” bill are two pieces of legislation addressing housing needs that are getting a lot of airtime in Montpelier. H.687 in House Environment & Energy is a bill that is also getting a lot of attention, which is concerning to me. The proposed changes to the law that this bill would implement can be seen by looking at these two maps of Act 250 triggers: currentlyhttps://anrmaps.vermont.gov/websites/public/SecretaryRequest/02072024_ACT250Existing.pdf

    And if H.687 were to pass   https://anrmaps.vermont.gov/websites/public/SecretaryRequest/02062024_ACT250Triggers_rev2.pdf

     

    It is an honor to serve as your Representative. 

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5


  • Legislative Update - 2 February 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    At the Statehouse: This week brought more bill introductions in our committees and very little action on the House Floor. Committee Chairs are trying to hear from sponsors of as many of the almost 900 bills that have been introduced as they have time for. Based on whether they think the bill will have traction to last the session, they will then take the bill off the wall, and the committee will hear testimony from various witnesses and subject matter experts. If there are bills that constituents have an interest in, you are encouraged to reach out to the Chair and Committee Assistant of that committee to ask to submit written or oral testimony. This information is found on the General Assembly website, on each committee’s webpage. Examples of bills of interest from the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee: siting of outdoor cannabis cultivation, cannabis special events permits, miscellaneous amendments to cannabis statutes, municipal and state codes of ethics, and amendments to statutes relating to the Office of Professional Regulation. Committees also spend much of their time listening to summaries of reports mandated in previous legislative sessions.  This week, we heard from the Vermont Veterans Home on how their facility in Southern Vermont is faring during this time of healthcare worker shortages and nursing home closures (I am happy to report that they are doing very well!).

    On the House Floor, we passed one bill of significance, H.363, an act relating to prohibiting discrimination based on certain hair types and styles.  This bill takes language from the national CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) Act and was passed out overwhelmingly by a 132-5 roll call vote. You may notice that some of the roll call votes don’t add up to 150 – there are times when representatives are absent from the Floor, and these names, along with the yeas and nays, may be found on the General Assembly website after typing in the bill number and clicking on “Roll Call Votes”.

    The VT National Guard completed their four-part series of presentations on the mission and vision of the Guard.  These recordings may be found on the General Assembly website under “Announcements”.  The depth and breadth of what this organization does for the State of Vermont is profound, and we are grateful for their service.

    This week’s Rural Caucus meeting focused on the health of our rural hospitals. We heard from several CEOs around the State, and their presentations were starkly realistic:  they painted a picture of people living in hospitals because there is nowhere else in the community for them to live; patients with mental health challenges who need specialized treatment yet have no physical symptoms; transportation challenges on weekends and after-hours being met by EMT services that should be responding to emergencies. It is an honor to serve our rural communities.

    Reach out at [email protected].

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango


  • Legislative Update - 26 January 2024

    Dear Constituents

    The rhythm of the Legislative session has set in as we complete our third full week back in Montpelier. The House floor continued to be mostly uneventful, with more municipal charter changes and a captive insurance bill (H.659) passing. We heard the Governor’s Budget address, where he laid out his priorities within the confines of the resources we currently have without raising any new taxes or fees. The House passed H.839, the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA) late Thursday, on a roll call vote of 112-24. This Act is the traditional “truing up” of last year’s budget, whereby any remaining funds are re-distributed, and any emergent issues are taken care of. In the past few bienniums, more and more policy decisions have been inserted into the BAA, without the benefit of robust committee hearings throughout the session to vet those changes to statute.  This year, the House Human Services Committee, requested through the BAA an extension of the hotel/motel program until June 30 and a reversion to the pre-pandemic “adverse weather” sheltering  policy, a discussion that at the very least should have happened within the committee hearing process (it didn’t) and the opportunity for the House to vote on this policy separately from the rest of the BAA (it didn’t). For that reason, I and 23 of my colleagues, voted no on this important mid-year bill. H.839 as written without this very late in the day change was a reasonable bill, containing many good funding decisions.  I am grateful to my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee for working so diligently to produce what was a bill worthy of a yes vote until the last-minute addition of $5M for this program extension and change in policy.

    In the House Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee, we have had several new bill introductions and taken up some complex legislation: Two draft bills on Ethics, dr 24-0461relating to a Municipal Code of Ethics and dr 24-0229 relating to a State Code of Ethics; and H.626 relating to animal welfare. All three of these bills are long and contain many issues that will need much committee time to hear from witnesses.

    The National Guard continued their four-part series, this week on Funding sources and Facilities. It is astonishing how much our VT Guard contributes to the State’s economy by bringing in federal dollars for construction projects, which in turn employ Vermont workers, who pay income, property, sales, and meals taxes.  These projects have a direct line to much-needed revenue growth for services and programs that benefit all Vermonters.

    The Rural Caucus meets weekly, and this week’s discussion topic was community resilience and biodiversity protection through land use, as presented in bill H.687.  A priority for the Rural Caucus this session is to look at Act 250, its impact on rural areas, and the bills that touch on it, with this bill being the first of several that we will hear about.

    It is an honor to serve. 

    Stay well, Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5


  • Legislative Update - 19 JAN 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    This week in the Statehouse felt more routine – bill introductions have slowed down, and we’ve begun our work on the issues before us.  In the Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee, that consists of diving into reports filed by the State Ethics Commission, the Cannabis Control Board, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Department of States Attorneys and Sheriffs, the Law Enforcement Advisory Board, and a joint hearing on the EMS Regional Coordination Study.  Each of these reports comes with recommendations for further legislation, which we must be diligent about researching and weighing the pros and cons within the construct of the State Budget. If you would like to learn more, these reports and the associated bills are on the House Government Operations & Military Affairs webpage under that day’s date or Reports & Other Resources. Resulting from this work, we are considering bills relating to a State and a Municipal Ethics Code, miscellaneous amendments to adult-use cannabis statutes, and further initiatives around public safety.  We also continued our work making recommendations to House Appropriations on the portions of the Budget that fall under our jurisdiction. While many are worthy, all programs cannot continue to be expanded in a year when taxes and fees are rising and the federal funding windfall is over; the Appropriations Committees have a monumental task ahead of them.  This Committee passed out one bill this week, H.649, an act relating to the Vermont Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Readers may recall from 2021-22 our work on the House General Committee trying to bring a more specific focus to this bill; we were not successful in narrowing the scope of Act 128, which set the mechanism to stand up a Commission to gather information on individuals and populations that were historically institutionalized and overlooked during the era of the eugenics movement. That Commission commenced operations last Spring, but when a Commissioner resigned, there was no mechanism in place to replace a vacant seat.  This bill, H.649, came to us with the request that we set up that mechanism, which we were ready to do as guided by the purpose of our committee work. However, the bill contained some other pieces that were less palatable: a request for an additional $1.1M, an extension of 10 months to complete the Commission’s work, and an exception to the Open Meeting Law because of the sensitive nature of this work.  Ultimately, it was this last piece that tipped the balance in the room to vote 9-3-0 to pass this bill, with myself and two colleagues voting no out of concern for the expansive scope of the Commission and its timeline and potentially limiting public participation in these open meetings.

    The House Floor was very quiet this week, as we passed only a few bills that made municipal charter changes (H.516 for Essex Jct and S.141 for the Fairfax Fire District), some technical corrections (H.560 to workers’ compensation rulemaking and H.599 reinstating a statute that was inadvertently removed last session) and heard commemorative Resolutions.

    The National Guard continued their series called Guard 101, this week focusing on the Mission of the Guard, in their roles for the State, the Federal Government, and in Global arenas. This series is brought to us by the VT National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus, which I co-Chair, the VT National Guard, and the House Speakers’ Office as an educational resource for legislators who will be voting in the upcoming election for the Adjutant General of the VT National Guard.  Major General Gregory Knight will be running for re-election, and it is notable that we remain the only state in the United States that still elects our TAG; all other states’ Adjutants General are appointed by the Executive Branch. 

    The VT Rural Caucus, which I also co-Chair, held its weekly meeting with presentations from the UVM Leahy Institute for Rural Partnerships, a USDA Rural Development specialist, and the VT Chief Recovery Officer, focusing on what those organizations can do for communities in recovery or revitalization mode.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]. It is an honor to represent Franklin-5. Stay well, Rep Lisa Hango


  • Legislative Update - 12 January 2024

    Dear Constituents –

    It was our first full week back at the Statehouse, and a busy one it was. My week began with Co-Chairing the VT National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus meeting to discuss priority legislation and to recap meetings held during the Fall to implement various strategies to bring awareness to the Guard’s recruiting crisis. Legislators attended events hosted by the Guard at both Norwich University and UVM, with an exchange of ideas leading to legislation submitted on behalf of the Guard, H.739. The Guard also hosted part one of a Legislative orientation to their mission and vision, ahead of the February election for the Adjutant General, and we saw the changing of leadership with Deputy Adjutant General Mr Ken Gragg retiring and being succeeded by Brigadier General Hank Harder. We were pleased to offer a House Concurrent Resolution on the House Floor to honor Mr Gragg.

    In Committee, we passed several municipal charter changes favorably, as well as hearing several bill introductions, beginning our work on technical challenges to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and most importantly, amendments to the Cannabis Control statues H.612. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns on this bill!

    On the House floor, we saw action on H.27, an act relating to coercive controlling behaviors and abuse protection orders and H.72, an act relating to harm reduction criminal justice response (formerly known as “the safe injection site” bill). Both passed on roll call votes, and you can see how your Representative voted by typing the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website and clicking on “roll calls” under House Action.

    I was honored to be part of a tri-partisan coalition of legislators who wrote a bill in consultation with the Administration to expand the number of housing units in Vermont by regulatory reform and incentivizing smart growth, H.719 - https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2024/H.719

     

    This coalition bill was the focus of the Governor’s weekly press conference, linked at https://www.google.com/gasearch?q=governor%20scott%20press%20conference%201/10/2024%20vermont&tbm=&source=sh/x/gs/m2/5#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:8582408a,vid:QevoVwhP4dc,st:0

     

    The Rural Caucus of VT met and set our priorities (voted on by membership) for the session.  You can view them and learn more about the Caucus, which I also Co-Chair, at https://www.vtruralcaucus.com/

    This week also brought new interns to the Statehouse, two of whom are interning for me;  one with the Rural Caucus, and one with the Republican Caucus.

    Please note that there will be a Legislative Breakfast at the Enosburg American Legion on January 22 at 8am – the public is invited to attend and meet your legislators.

    You may reach me at [email protected]

    Stay well, Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5



  • Legislative Update January 5, 2024

    Dear Constituents -

    The 2024 Vermont Legislative session opened this week with the Governor’s State of the State address highlighting the challenges that we face and those that we’ve surmounted since adjournment.  More on the Governor’s budget will follow later this month after he’s given his Budget Address, but the general theme is one of caution and thoughtful consideration of each and every funding request.  Are the dollars that are being allocated truly benefiting Vermonters? Stay tuned.

     

    The Governor’s address underscored three main issues to focus on: Housing, Public Safety, and Affordability.  Representative Ashley Bartley (Fairfax, Georgia) and I are co-sponsors of a non-partisan bill outlining reforms to Act 250 and municipal zoning laws and implements various housing concepts that will help to alleviate the housing crisis that Vermont is experiencing by making new units available for all Vermonters. We worked diligently to bring together a tri-partisan group of legislators who signed on as lead sponsors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work across the aisle on such an important issue.  Senator Randy Brock is the co-sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate that also has bi-partisan support.

     

    Other Franklin and Grand Isle County Representatives and Senators have sponsored important legislation, which I have co-signed, relating to public safety issues, something that is foremost on our minds as Vermont headlines shout the news of increases in both petty and violent crimes. On a recent visit to the courts, we saw firsthand some of the results of state policies going soft on crime, and the outcome is concerning.

     

    Affordability is on all of our minds.  As we knew would happen, the influx of Federal money has come to a screeching halt, and unfortunately our colleagues’ priorities have not caught up with this reality.  Increased DMV fees, a mandatory payroll tax to fund childcare, and a looming property tax increase in many communities are taking effect this year, and we are all feeling the effect on our household budgets.

     

    On the House floor, aside from a few Resolutions and routine announcements, the only other business that was taken up was to vote on the Governor’s veto of H.158 (expansion of the Bottle Deposit statute to include glass wine bottles and plastic water bottles). This bill was touted as a much-needed update to the current law, but I see it as a shift away from the recycling facilities that have made numerous capital investments to handle these items and putting the cost of handling deposits squarely on the consumer and the producer. The veto was handily overridden, 112-32.  On any roll call vote, you can see how your legislators voted by typing the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website and clicking on Roll Call Votes.

     

    In the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee, we discussed priorities for the session, which is the final year of the biennium, in order to ensure that our interests make it over the finish line by May.

     

    It is an honor to return to the Statehouse to represent you. Please feel welcome to reach out to me at [email protected]

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5

     


  • Legislative Update 24 JUNE 23

    Dear Constituents –

    Tuesday, June 20 marked an historic day in the Vermont Legislature: without hesitation, the majority party in the House of Representatives overrode five gubernatorial vetoes, and adjourned an expected three-day session at the end of one day. Despite pleas on the House floor for reason and fiscal prudence, the majority rapidly dispatched the Governor’s concerns on: H.494 (Budget) – it has swollen by 13% over last year and contains $22M in unsolicited DMV fee increases; H.217 (Childcare) - sets up a brand-new $125M payroll tax largely funded by employers, although all workers will be required to pay their share; H.305 increased professional licensing fees for critical occupations; H.509 (non-citizen voting in Burlington) and H.386 (16/17-year old voting in Brattleboro). To say it was an exhausting, overwhelming, and disheartening exercise is an understatement; 37 Republicans (plus one, the Governor) essentially had no voice for the pocketbooks and sensibilities of the voters of Vermont. The same can be said for the Senate, which although they did not override any vetos, sent back to committee S.39, a legislative pay raise, for a second bite of the apple in January that will cost Vermonters another $4.7M in revenue (raised by taxes and fees). Vermont has truly become one of the most unaffordable states in the nation to live in.  The 2023 session began in the spirit of compromise and promises that even though a supermajority exists thanks to the 2022 election, we would be collaborating and coming up with mutually agreeable solutions to Vermont’s biggest problems.  Nowhere was that more unapparent than with H.217, the childcare bill.  The Governor proposed a reasonable solution that would have put Vermont with the most generous in the nation for subsidies to families and wages for childcare providers, and that bill (H.340, co-sponsored by myself and other Franklin County Reps) was summarily disregarded in favor of an even more generous package that advocates have been touting for a decade. Their victory was celebrated on the Statehouse steps on June 21, and it is but the tip of the iceberg of fully subsidized childcare for all, courtesy of raising more taxes and fees in the future. How elected officials can with a clear conscience vote to increase the cost of living in our beautiful state and not expect a mass exodus to more business-friendly places, especially with an economic downturn looming, is beyond me – do the benefits of being the number one state offering social services really outweigh the cost to its citizens, particularly low-income and elderly residents who will suffer under a regressive tax structure?  I don’t think we need the distinction of being the number one most generous state for benefits or the number one state for highest taxes and cost of living. And did I mention that for the cost of $3.5M, we somehow cannot see fit to honor our military families for their service and sacrifice by exempting their retirement pensions or survivors’ benefits from state income tax (H.255, another concept that has been around for at least a decade)??  With comments and concerns, please reach out to me at [email protected].  You can find any of these bills on the Vermont General Assembly website by typing the bill number in the bill tracker field on the front page.

    Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the Statehouse.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa A Hango


  • ARPA Tour Recap - 15 MAY 2023

    Dear Constituents –

    May 15 marked a transformative day for Franklin County VT.  The Scott Administration sent 15 agency and department heads and their deputies to Richford for a round table presentation and Q&A on ARPA funding and other grant opportunities.  Municipal and community leaders attended from across Franklin County to learn about money that is available to their communities and organizations.  The purpose of the meeting was to highlight grant opportunities, but the biggest takeaway from the meeting is that the Administration isn’t a group of State employees working in a vacuum in Montpelier; they are people who live in struggling communities like ours who want to see rural Vermont communities access the types of programs advancing economic growth that they have built in their portfolios with the help of federal and state funding. The VT Rural Caucus ( https://www.vtruralcaucus.com/), of which I am a Co-Chair, under tri-partisan leadership, successfully advocated for inclusion of $3M in Rural Technical Assistance for the most underserved Vermont communities. Although no towns in Franklin County pre-qualify to receive technical assistance (based on metrics developed by the Administration with input from various stakeholders), several of our towns will qualify if they apply for consideration. Please reach out to them at [email protected].  This team dedicated to assisting municipalities with their ARPA funding needs have held these forums in almost every county of the State over the past year, and other communities have found their guidance to be informative and timely. I highly encourage all Franklin County municipalities to reach out to them.

    After the round table discussion, several groups went off in different directions: Richford Natural Forest Products and Kaytec in Richford; the Perley Block in Enosburg; the Franklin Co State Airport; Swanton Village; Fletcher; and several area libraries. These events were organized with the goal of introducing the Administration and their programs to municipal and community leaders and reinforcing those connections through their State Representatives and Senators. The message that was sent to communities is that there is money for assistance, and if you don’t know where to look for it, reach out to your elected officials, and they will connect you with the right government entities to assist you with your projects, from brain-storming to conceptualizing to implementation.

    I would like to thank the Scott Administration, Richford Town Administrator Michael Olio, Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation, Northwest Regional Planning Commission, and the Representatives and Senators who attended the events for their roles in planning and organizing the day’s events. I would also like to thank Greenwood’s bakery for preparing refreshments, FCIDC for providing the funding, and various businesses and municipalities for opening your doors and leading tours.

    Please feel welcome to reach out to me at [email protected].  As we are not currently in session, it may take longer for me to respond, but I will do so as my availability allows.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

     


  • Legislative Update - 13 MAY 2023

    Dear Constituents –

    The Legislature adjourned just shy of midnight Friday night. It was a long day, with bills being amended in Committees and coming and going on the House floor. The pace of this session started at a run on January 4 and never slowed down! The main attraction, and the only must-pass bill that was left by 10PM was H.494, the Budget “Big Bill”, and it was saved until the bitter end. This is an $8.5 billion piece of legislation, the likes of which Vermonters have never seen before, and I hope to never see again. It represents a 13% increase in spending, including one-time money that was meant for historic investments in infrastructure and initiatives, not for on-going programs that will need to be supported in the future when we won’t have this funding windfall. This bill, combined with other very costly pieces of legislation, including childcare (H.217), Universal School Meals (H.165), increased professional registration fees (H.305), increased DMV fees (in H.494), and the pay raise/compensation package legislators voted themselves (S.39), not to mention S.5 the UN-affordable heat act, will make Vermont the second most expensive state to live in after Hawaii.  This is not a distinction that I am proud of. Those of us who opposed these tax and fee increases in a time of surplus, with the dread that these initiatives will be on-going without the continued influx of federal dollars, tried to convince the majority party that they were squandering once in a lifetime monies, which should be saved as federal match money or capital investment; those pleas fell on deaf ears, and we will all be paying the price as we watch our cost of living increase unsustainably.  On the House floor, during vote explanations for my no vote on the budget, I pointed out that with hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on new programs and personnel to stand up those programs, the General Assembly could not see fit to take up a bill honoring military retirees and their survivors who made the ultimate sacrifice with state income tax exemptions, the cost of which would be $3.5M – a drop in the bucket of an $8.5B budget – even though that bill has been introduced for five bienniums. Vermonters will continue to leave the State when their service commitment is fulfilled.

    As a leader in the majority party stated, “elections have consequences”; well, we will certainly see the consequences of the 2022 election of a Democratic supermajority in the coming years as these programs take effect and we must dream up ways to pay for them. The only way to stop this tidal wave of spending is to elect more fiscally conservative members to the General Assembly, so we have a chance to put up alternatives that are supported by many and not just a few.  That starts with each and every one of us thinking hard about who we want to represent us from our communities and if their views reflect the values that truly benefit all Vermonters. We get another chance to see that “elections have consequences” in 2024, and now is not too soon to think about how to make that happen.

    I welcome your comments and concerns at [email protected]. It is an honor to serve you.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

     


  • Legislative Update - 5 MAY 2023

    Dear Constituents –

    As the final weeks of the legislation draw to a close, bills are passing through committees and in the chambers at a much faster pace, and changes to them are being drafted even faster than they can be printed. For the most up to date information, please go to the Vermont General Assembly website and click on House and Senate calendars, or specific committees for agendas, bills, and amendment drafts. If you know the bill number,  you can also type it into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website, and you can scroll down to see the latest action taken on that bill.

    Typical of this time of year, I begin to question the speed at which some legislation passes while other bills sit for an entire session on the wall. I have explained in this space in the past that it is legislative leadership’s sole discretion to take up bills or not, and when, provided it meets crossover in order to pass that session – at least this is how it works in the House ; the Senate has its own version of how late in the session a bill can be taken up. The Senate Rules Committee can decide if a bill is prioritized even if it didn’t meet the House crossover deadline. This session, I have seen evidence of this happening more frequently than I have in the past, and I am not in favor of using this method to advance bills.  For instance, Senate Rules allowed S.39, an act relating to compensation and benefits for members of the Vermont General Assembly, to be debated on the Senate floor beginning on April 11, and it finally came over from the Senate to my committee, Government Operations on April 19. Recall that policy crossover in the House was on March 17. We did not hear a bill introduction for this bill until May 2, and we are in the process of passing that bill out of committee as of this writing. A few of my fellow committee members joined me in objecting to the compressed timeframe , but the majority were more than OK with passing a bill that lacked extensive testimony and time to digest the content.

    Because legislation is moving so fast and being changed so dramatically in these last couple of weeks, I plan to bring you more news in next week’s report. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]. It is an honor to serve.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

     


  • Legislative Update - 28 APRIL 2023

    Dear Constituents –

    This week marks the official countdown to the end of the Legislative session. We are projected to adjourn in two weeks, and committees are seeing a flurry of activity with bills passing between chambers for approval or amendments.  As reported last week, S.5, the Affordable Heat Act, passed the House and is in the Senate, waiting final reading as of this writing, having passed both bodies with a majority. Other major pieces of legislation also remain embroiled in the process : H.66, paid family and medical leave, has returned to Senate Economic Development ; H.165, Universal School Meals, is in Senate Appropriations ; S.56, the childcare bill, is making its way through the House money committees on its way to the floor next week ; and S.100, the HOME bill, is still in House Environment & Energy in hopes of adding amendments that address ACT 250 reform. The Transportation and DMV bills are also making their way through the process, and the must-pass « Big Bill » (Budget, H.494) appears to be heading for a Committee of Conference next week. Of note on the House floor this week, we passed several more amendments to municipal charters ; S.36, an act relating to permitting an arrest without a warrant for assaults and threats against health care workers and disorderly conduct  at health care facilities ;  S.73, an act relating to workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters with cancer ; and S.91, an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense.

    In the House Government Operations Committee, we continued our work on several amendments to the charter of the City of Burlington (H.506, 507, 508, and 509) regarding elections ; S.42, divestment of State pension funds of investments in the fossil fuel industry ; and wrapped up our work on S.17, an act relating to sheriff reforms.  All of these bills can be found in their most updated form by typing the bill number into the bill tracker on the Vermont General Assembly website.  As most bills change substantially during the legislative process, it’s advisable to read them in their most recent form, and I will endeavor to keep the public informed as they advance.

    The VT Rural Caucus met this week to hear about issues related to childcare, which is in a crisis state throughout Vermont but particularly in rural areas. The Senate passed S.56, which House Human Services and House Education amended ; this bill is projected to cost $150M. The Administration has also proposed a more reasonable version (H.340) addressing childcare needs that would require just 1/3 the investment and continue to serve Vermont families that need it most.

    Please reach out to me at [email protected] with questions and concerns. It is truly an honor to serve you.

    Stay well,

    Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5


  • Legislative Update - 21 APRIL 2023

    Dear Constituents –

    This week in the Statehouse was defined by House floor action on S.5, the « Affordable Heat Act ». At this writing, Vermonters know that the House passed this bill, and it is headed back to the Senate for their approval before going to the Governor’s desk, where it is certain to be vetoed ; a veto session for late June has already been established. What most Vermonters don’t know, given the number of Representatives and Senators who voted in favor of this legislation, is that the « affordability » of this act is at best questionable. Despite repeated requests for a study weighing the potential costs and benefits, something any of us would do when contemplating a new proposal that directly affects our financial well-being, the costs of this bill remain unknown. Conservative estimates are in the multi millions, and they are projected to be on-going.  If this bill becomes law, Vermont will be the first state in the nation to enact such stringent requirements targeting the thermal sector.  During a press conference held by the Republican Caucus, concerns were raised about how this would affect Vermonters, particularly those on fixed incomes or who live in very cold pockets of the state.  The obvious answer is that, with a mandate to pass a balanced budget, and the influx of federal money coming to a swift halt, worthy initiatives will have to be cut to implement this new « Clean Heat » program. What those measures entail will be up to a future Legislature to decide, and that in itself feels wrong.  If we are making these decisions, we should own the consequences.  And by « we », I refer to the majority party who voted this behemoth in.  That being said, I want to thank the handful of my Democrat and Indpendent colleagues in the House who joined the minority in saying that this bill is unaffordable and punitive to their constituents and small businesses. For a detailed listing of how your Representatives voted, please see the General Assembly website for the April 20 House Journal.

    In Committee, we continued to take testimony on Ranked Choice Voting, Sheriffs, fossil fuel divestment from State portfolios, and amendments to the charter of the City of Burlington. The next few weeks will be more of the same, and you can view our agenda on the Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee webpage on the General Assembly website.

    The VT National Guard and Veterans Affairs Caucus met to hear updates on military pension and survivors’ benefits tax exemption legislation and on the military Burn Pit Registry, as well as  presentations from the USS VT Support Group and the VT Office of Veterans Affairs on their mission and outreach.  VT NG&VA Caucus leadership (myself and my two co-chairs) met with the staff of all three of our congressional delegation offices and were assured that our Senators and Congresswoman are doing their part to advocate at the federal level for an expansion of the PACT ACT to include deployment areas of Kosovo and perhaps others where our servicemen and women incurred exposure to airborne hazards.  It is also noteworthy that the PACT ACT includes our military veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Southeast Asia and water borne toxins at Camp Lejeune. If any servicemember was present in those locations, I urge you to contact the VA for assistance to sign up for the Burn Pit Registry. I would also like to thank our VT Adjutant General, Major General Greg Knight, who is tirelessly advocating for these inclusions. On Tuesday, the VSG was present in the House Chamber for a reading of a Resolution naming April 18 2023 USS VT Day, commemorating the day that the submarine was commissioned three years ago.  I had the honor of introducing on the House floor Retired Navy Captain and my former Representative Mr Albert Perry, of Middlebury and Lake Carmi, as well as other members of the VSG Board. The VSG also held a press conference announcing the date of Vermont Weekend to tour the boat in Groton CT on May 12-13. The VT Rural Caucus met and learned more on the topics of EMS, dispatch, outdoor rec, and the housing bill. I expect next week’s floor action to focus on the HOME bill, S.100, which has been controversial as it has made its way through Senate Economic Development, Senate Natural Resources, General & Housing, and Environment & Energy. Thirty-three members of the VT Rural Caucus signed on to a letter to House leadership calling for restoration of the good work that Senate Econ did around Act 250 reform, only to have Senate NR strip it out and House G&H rendered hog-tied when Representatives tried to put these measures back in. [email protected] Stay well, Rep Hango