Dear Constituents -
The 2024 Vermont Legislative session opened this week with the Governor’s State of the State address highlighting the challenges that we face and those that we’ve surmounted since adjournment. More on the Governor’s budget will follow later this month after he’s given his Budget Address, but the general theme is one of caution and thoughtful consideration of each and every funding request. Are the dollars that are being allocated truly benefiting Vermonters? Stay tuned.
The Governor’s address underscored three main issues to focus on: Housing, Public Safety, and Affordability. Representative Ashley Bartley (Fairfax, Georgia) and I are co-sponsors of a non-partisan bill outlining reforms to Act 250 and municipal zoning laws and implements various housing concepts that will help to alleviate the housing crisis that Vermont is experiencing by making new units available for all Vermonters. We worked diligently to bring together a tri-partisan group of legislators who signed on as lead sponsors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work across the aisle on such an important issue. Senator Randy Brock is the co-sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate that also has bi-partisan support.
Other Franklin and Grand Isle County Representatives and Senators have sponsored important legislation, which I have co-signed, relating to public safety issues, something that is foremost on our minds as Vermont headlines shout the news of increases in both petty and violent crimes. On a recent visit to the courts, we saw firsthand some of the results of state policies going soft on crime, and the outcome is concerning.
Affordability is on all of our minds. As we knew would happen, the influx of Federal money has come to a screeching halt, and unfortunately our colleagues’ priorities have not caught up with this reality. Increased DMV fees, a mandatory payroll tax to fund childcare, and a looming property tax increase in many communities are taking effect this year, and we are all feeling the effect on our household budgets.
On the House floor, aside from a few Resolutions and routine announcements, the only other business that was taken up was to vote on the Governor’s veto of H.158 (expansion of the Bottle Deposit statute to include glass wine bottles and plastic water bottles). This bill was touted as a much-needed update to the current law, but I see it as a shift away from the recycling facilities that have made numerous capital investments to handle these items and putting the cost of handling deposits squarely on the consumer and the producer. The veto was handily overridden, 112-32. On any roll call vote, you can see how your legislators voted by typing the bill number into the bill tracker on the General Assembly website and clicking on Roll Call Votes.
In the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee, we discussed priorities for the session, which is the final year of the biennium, in order to ensure that our interests make it over the finish line by May.
It is an honor to return to the Statehouse to represent you. Please feel welcome to reach out to me at [email protected]
Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5