To all of Franklin County’s students who have graduated, please accept my heartfelt congratulations on a job well done. These are unprecedented times, and your perseverance and dedication is to be commended! I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.
This was a very long Legislative week, with Committee meetings and House Floor sessions on Zoom stretching our screen time over many hours, as we tried to make sense of the guidelines on Coronavirus Relief Funding (CRF) and get the most money we could into the pockets of Vermonters. On Monday, my Committee, along with Senate Economic Development and Housing, fast-tracked $23 Million to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and its community partners to begin work to rehabilitate up to 250 units statewide for the purpose of re-housing homeless Vermonters who are currently residing in motels. Discussion on remaining funds continued throughout the week, with House General voting out another $52 Million in housing money to Appropriations on Wednesday and a joint session with the House Human Services Committee and DCF on funding wraparound services to keep individuals and families with complex, high needs housed going forward.
The Rural Economic Development caucus met, and we signed onto a letter asking the Appropriations Committee to consider the Working Lands Enterprise Fund’s request for $5 Million to grant funds to forestry and agricultural businesses for their continued operations. This funding is crucial for “Made in Vermont” local producers to survive and flourish.
Regrettably, even though a well-crafted, historically rapid $93 Million Economic Relief Bill passed on Friday, there has not been enough funding disbursed yet for small businesses/sole proprietors and dairy producers/processors. This money remains in the pipeline, and the Committees of jurisdiction are doing everything they can to get it to Vermonters, but majority leadership has held back some of the CARES Act funds. I hope that we can hang on until this money is released and legislation is passed to help those in our rural community who are still in need.
At Tuesday’s session, a very narrow vote against allowing more student voices on one of the Vermont State Colleges System study committees revealed concerns with this remote voting process, so a roll call was requested for the next vote. On Friday, more roll calls followed robust discussion on amendments that attempted to make the voting by mail process more transparent and less likely to succumb to ballot harvesting and voter fraud. Unfortunately, none of the proposed amendments passed, and the authority to issue directives around vote collection will pass to the Secretary of State, rather than be written into law.
Please continue to reach out to me at [email protected] with your concerns. I am happy to be of assistance.
Representative Lisa A Hango – Berkshire, Richford, Franklin, Highgate