Dear Constituents –
This week at the Statehouse seemed more like a “typical” week – committees have settled into taking testimony, advocates and lobbyists are in the Card Room and the cafeteria, and bills are being debated on the House floor.
On Tuesday, I was present at Governor Scott’s press conference highlighting the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins) Act. The PACT Act is a federal program that gives all veterans who were deployed in certain regions of the world the ability to sign up on a registry that shows service that could be connected to airborne hazards (i.e. burn pits, Agent Orange): https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home
I also had the opportunity to meet with various Communications Union District (CUD) members, including our own Northwest Fiberworx, to discuss the progress to bring broadband to the “middle miles” in Franklin County.
We learned in our committee that State Treasurer Mike Pieciak put out a release stating that February 1st was National Unclaimed Property Day. Vermont has $119M in unclaimed property (forgotten bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, unpaid life insurance policies, etc). Last year, Vermonters filed 15,000 claims that yielded $5.3M in payouts with the average claim exceeding $400. To learn more click on [email protected] . We also heard extensive testimony on Sports Wagering, Elections, and the role of Sheriffs in law enforcement; these are all topics that the House and Senate Government Operations Committees anticipate weighing in on this biennium. It is important that we hear from as many witnesses as possible to ensure that we don’t pass legislation with unintended consequences, so I fully expect to spend many hours listening to the various sides of these issues.
House floor action primarily revolved around the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA). As I have explained before, this is typically a bill that doesn’t have much debate because it is intended to be a mid-cycle “true up” of the current budget year that we are in: how much of existing allocations have been spent and what the best use of the remainder would be based on current conditions. This year, however, was a different story! The House Appropriations Committee majority party members (8-4) voted to include an additional $90M for various programs, over and above what we passed for a balanced budget in May of 2022. For the 33 minority members voting, this was something that could not be supported, no matter how many other crucial programs the budget supports.
The Rural Caucus met on Thursday to review the components of the Rural Omnibus bill and the Recreation Omnibus bill that we hope to support and is in the drafting process, as well as updates on several other bills related to the rural economy.
It is an honor to serve as your State Representative. Please reach out any time at [email protected]. Stay well, Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5