Legislative Update - Feb 5, 2021

Dear Constituents –
On the House floor, bill introductions continue at a steady pace for a total of 204 thus far. A few bills have been voted out, but by far the most action this week on the floor belonged to H.R.7, a Resolution dealing with the Governor’s Executive Order 01-21, which was meant to re-organize the Department of Public Safety and was issued on Jan 14. Floor debate centered on the speed with which this Resolution was drafted in response to the Executive Order (action wasn’t required until April 14) and a concerning lack of due process by the Committee in not calling in certain witnesses to testify. The will of the Committee was upheld, and those of us who voted against their response will wait to see if they make good on their intention to address these issues through the Legislative process.
In the House General Committee, we continue to pour over the language in H.81, an act relating to making various changes to the process for statewide collective bargaining for public school employee health benefits. More markup will be on next week’s agenda. On other subjects, we heard from Washington County Mental Health and Housing First advocates, as well as a Pediatrician from Boston Medical Center and Vermont Legal Aid on the concepts of “Housing as Health” and “Housing as a Vaccine”, stressing the importance of a safe home as a preventative for many chronic health conditions. We also heard from the Economic Services Division of the Department of Children and Families and the Director of Public Safety in Barre City on the challenges of housing large numbers of formerly homeless individuals and families in motels during this pandemic. In addition, we received an introduction to the Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard, Major General Greg Knight, whose organization we work with very closely in our Committee.
Special Caucus meetings that I attended this week were all very interesting and informative: The Older Vermonters Caucus had Health Commissioner Dr Levine in to discuss vaccine rollout in Vermont; The Rural Economic Development Working Group discussed the Better Places Grant and Working Lands Enterprise Funds Grant Programs; The Tourism Caucus heard presentations from the Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing and the Commissioner of Taxes on a tourism marketing proposal that is in House Commerce and Economic Development Committee; and The Women’s Caucus invited me in to present them with the press release announcing that the Vermont National Guard Cavalry is the first such unit in the United States, and in history, to be eligible to recruit women in combat roles. I would also like to give a shout out to the amazing folks at the Vermont Mentoring Program/Watershed Mentoring who hosted a meeting for Legislators to better understand the important work they are doing supporting youth ages 5-18 in our communities. If you have ever had a desire to make a difference in the life of a child, please consider volunteering for this organization – they currently have around 20 unplaced youth, and they will be looking to partner them with adults in the community once the restrictions of the pandemic have eased.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. Please contact me at [email protected] or www.hangoforhouse.com with questions or comments.
Stay well,
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

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