Dear Constituents –
This week the virtual Statehouse was crammed with testimony in Committee and debate on the Floor. The majority of the testimony in Committee continues to be on S.79 a rental housing health and safety bill. This bill was scheduled for a vote out of Committee today (Friday), but it had not yet been completed by the time we adjourned for the weekend, so we will continue to do mark-up on it and vote it out early next week. We continue to discuss the Eviction Moratorium, but to my dismay the advocates seem to be at an impasse as to a compromise on language to protect both tenants and landlords, and the Committee has taken no further action. Judging by the letters and phone calls I receive, the Legislature needs to take action immediately to exempt certain circumstances from the moratorium, and I have been advocating that position in my Committee for weeks now; I’ve been told that we will take that up next week, and I remain hopeful that we will.
On the House floor, numerous bills were passed, the longest debates being on S.66 an act relating to electric bicycles, S.86 pertaining to miscellaneous DMV subjects (particularly ATV/side-by-side helmet requirements and snowmobile noise), and H.361 amending the Charter of the Town of Brattleboro. You may ask why we spent so much time at the State level debating a town charter, but this change was one of great impact – it opens the door for other municipalities to allow 16-and-17-yr-olds to vote in local elections, just like the recent change to the City of Winooski charter allows non-citizens to vote in those elections. This session has seen a series of small changes in statute that have the potential to become cumulative; nothing is decided upon in a vacuum, and I am concerned for the future direction of the State.
There was little time left for special caucus meetings, but I did attend a meeting of REDWnG for a presentation from the Vermont Council on Rural Development on their priorities and the Vermont Independent Restaurants Group in the Tourism Caucus. If you are a restaurateur whose business has been affected by COVID, the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will start accepting applications on May 3 and can be accessed at www.sba.gov/restaurants Or by calling 1-844-279-8898. It is important to note that this program prioritizes certain groups, such as minority business owners and women-owned businesses, but all may apply, and as there is less funding than the anticipated need, it is best to apply now.
Representative Lisa A Hango