The General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee spent this week primarily taking testimony on housing issues – S.79 Improving Rental Housing Health and Safety, H.232 Promoting Land and Home Ownership and Economic Opportunity, H.273 Promoting Racial and Social Equity in Land Access and Property Ownership, the effects of the eviction moratorium, and Ag worker housing in a joint hearing with the House Agriculture Committee. We also took testimony on H.178 dealing with low-alcohol spirits and H.401 a tri-partisan bill Promoting Racial and Social Equity in Vermont.
On the House floor, we passed a literacy bill (S.114), a probation bill (S.45), a bill establishing the Office of the Child Advocate (H.265), a bill setting up a task force on public employees pension reform (H.449), and a miscellaneous Natural Resources subjects bill (H.446) that a group of legislators including myself tried unsuccessfully to amend (Rogers Amendment) in favor of our forest products industry.
The Older Vermonters Caucus heard from representatives of the Area Agencies on Aging and Meals on Wheels about the important work they have continued to do in innovative ways throughout this pandemic, and I applaud their efforts to help Vermonters live independently with dignity and serving the needs of those who care for them. The REDWnG rural working group discussed TIF and mini-TIF funding and how these programs are important tools in the toolkit for municipalities to fund projects. We also heard from the Commissioner of Forest, Parks, and Recreation about the needs of our forest products industry and the marketplace challenges that face them in light of the pandemic.
Lastly, the Tourism Caucus took up the issue of shuttered performance venues, and we heard compelling testimony from organizations such as Higher Ground, the Champlain Valley Exposition, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra as to how the pandemic has affected their revenues.
We have been told that the Legislative session has been extended to May 22 in order to pass bills, but I certainly hope we can adjourn before then – there is a great deal of non-essential legislation being worked on in committees that can wait until we are no longer legislating over Zoom in a State of Emergency.
Representative Lisa A Hango