Legislative Update – 14 January 2022
Dear Constituents –
Our second week back in the virtual Legislature featured a packed schedule – Committees worked on their responses to the Budget Adjustment memo, heard introductions of new bills, and took testimony on bills from last year. The House General Committee was thoughtful in our response to the ask for housing funding in the budget, and I hope that our comments will be helpful to the Appropriations Committee that has the task of approving those requests. New bills that were introduced are on human rights issues, and holdover bills include several on discrimination and employment practices. We will continue to take testimony on the ones that are prioritized by House leadership. We also discussed two bills from last session that were on the House calendar and postponed one legislative day, S.78 a collective bargaining bill for the Judiciary, and H.157 the requirement for registration of residential contractors. Both are scheduled for a vote by the full House next week.
On the House floor, we voted out two additional bills relating to temporary elections measures S.222 and S.223. These bills give your municipalities additional options to hold their annual meetings and handle candidate petitions and school ballots in a safe manner during the continuing Omicron wave. Floor time on Friday was devoted to much discussion about a House Rules Resolution H.R.14 that will enable us to safely return in person to the Statehouse on the 18th and H.589, the first of two re-districting bills that we will take up. In regards to H.589, many Boards of Civil Authority have already weighed in on a map that was sent out and approved by the Legislative Apportionment Board in November; the House Government Operations Committee chose to not use that “majority” map for their bill and instead used the “alternate” map. This bill appears to be moving forward, and the Committee has assured the Legislature that BOTH maps will be sent out to BCA’s for the second round, with comments due back by February 15, so please be on the lookout for those maps and be sure to send feedback if you serve on your community’s BCA if it is passed. This is a once in a decade process, and it directly affects how your district is represented in the Legislature for the next ten years.
Special issues Caucuses this week included: the National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus, of which I am a Co-Chair, with VTNG Family Programs discussing support for deployed units returning home and the Secretary of State’s Office on the challenges of voting from remote locations overseas; the Older Vermonters Caucus on Medicaid reimbursement rates and the need for more Adult Day programs; the REDWnG Rural development working group on an omnibus bill that encompasses many of the needs we heard on a forest economy tour this Fall; and the Tourism Caucus on how marketing and pandemic relief dollars are being spent. Due to the House floor session running overtime, the Women’s Caucus did not meet this week.
Please continue to reach out with concerns and questions. [email protected]
Rep Lisa A Hango, Berkshire