Dear Constituents –
This was the first full week in the Statehouse for legislators, and the pace was brisk! On Monday, UVM Legislative Interns joined their mentors for an introductory lunch and to complete their safety and administrative briefings.
House Floor sessions were brief, mainly for the introduction of bills, several of which have been referred to my Committee on Government Operations & Military Affairs, including bills that seek to do the following: amend the definitions of “cider” and “hard cider”(H.7), modify the reapportionment process (H.20), dissolve the Colchester Fire Dept No.3 (H.46), establish a statewide retirement system for voluntary firefighters (H.49), and establish creditable service for Temporary State employment (H.52). Please recall that any member may introduce bills on behalf of constituents and advocacy organizations, but House leadership determines which bills “come off the wall” and are actually taken up.
The bulk of Committee time this week was devoted to bringing members up to speed on various organizations that will interact within our jurisdiction: State Human Resources, union groups, Association of Municipal Clerks, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Regional Planning and/or Development Corporations, and the Vermont National Guard, to name several.
Our committee took up one bill this week, H.42, an act relating to temporary alternative procedures for annual municipal meetings and electronic meetings of public bodies. This bill seeks to extend pandemic provisions for municipal bodies to continue to offer the option to meet remotely if desired, which are set to expire on January 15, 2023. The impetus for this extension came from town clerks across the State who have found this to be a good option to allow for more individuals to access public meetings. The current iteration of the bill extends this provision out to July 1, 2024, and contains the same guidelines around public access that ACT 157 of 2022 set forth. This bill then went on to House Ways and Means for further refinement.
The Rural Caucus, of which I am a Co-Chair, met this week and offered overwhelming support for the Governor’s inclusion in the Budget Adjustment Act a line item for $3M to support rural communities with respect to accessing and utilizing ARPA funding and other State and Federal grant programs over the course of the next three years.
The VT National Guard & Military Affairs Caucus, of which I am also a Co-Chair, met this week and heard presentations from: the VT Director of the US Selective Service, who highlighted a relatively poor compliance rate for men aged 18-26 in Vermont compared to other states and the lack of individuals willing to serve on regional boards that hear conscientious objector cases, the downfall for failing to register for Federally mandated Selective Service is not only a violation of Federal law carrying a fine and a jail sentence, but also the lifetime exclusion from being considered for all Federal jobs, such as with Homeland Security and the Veterans Administration; the VT National Guard on the new national Integrative Primary Prevention Program (IPPP) in each state that will focus on the prevention of assault, harassment, substance misuse, and suicide; the Adjutant General also provided an update on the Provost Marshal position transitioning to full-time, and the efforts of the VT Guard to recruit New Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents into service.
Lastly, the first Franklin County Legislative Breakfast will be held on Monday, January 23 8-9:30am in the Richford Town Hall. Please consider joining local legislators to discuss what is important to you.
It is an honor to serve you in the Vermont Statehouse. Please reach out to me at [email protected]
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5