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County Courier Candidate Forum #5

QUESTION: Updating Vermont's land use law, better known as Act 250, has become a perennial topic in Vermont politics. What changes would you like to see to that law (if any), and what would you do to ensure those changes are enacted?

 

ANSWER: Act 250 needs to be updated to reflect the need for more housing that is affordable and accessible. I have consistently advocated, and voted, for changes to relax restrictions on planned, thoughtful development. Anecdotally, potential homeowners in Franklin County have waited up to a year to have their permits approved, commercial builders have waited over 18 months, and permitting fees can be out of reach for many smaller businesses and individuals. This is unacceptable when we are in the midst of a nationwide housing crisis and are trying to attract new employers to Vermont. Reasonable climate mitigation and conservation efforts can, and should, be part of any development plan, but the current regulations go far beyond the balance of what is necessary and affordable yet protective of land and wildlife. 

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2022 County Courier Candidate Forum #4

QUESTION: Vermont consistently ranks above average for the cost of living in the United States. If elected, what would you look to do in Montpelier to help your constituents with the cost of living in the Green Mountain State?

 

ANSWER: As costs increase, a trip to the grocery store, a stop at the gas pumps, and heating our homes this winter are concerning to Vermonters. My voting record shows the measures that I have supported over 3-1/2 years: I will continue to vote against tax or fee increases; continue to advocate for a 100% tax exemption on military pensions and to increase tax exemptions on social security income without convoluted income formulas; make thoughtful energy policy decisions to include all sources of energy in the transportation and thermal sectors in a way that makes fiscal sense for all Vermont consumers; and continue to support local agricultural, forestry, and industrial  production and distribution to alleviate the supply chain shortages that Vermonters face when shopping for basic goods. 

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2022 County Courier Candidate Forum #3

 

QUESTION: Mass shootings continue to make headlines throughout America. Vermont has responded in recent years, enacting new gun laws aimed at reducing the chance of a mass shooting taking place in the Green Mountain State. Do you think Vermont had adequately addressed this issue, and if not, what direction would you like Vermont to move in when it comes to gun laws?

 

 

ANSWER: The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a backdrop in recent years to highlight the mental health crisis that Vermont and our nation is facing. Lack of recognition of warning signs, long wait times to be treated, lack of qualified personnel, lack of in-person beds (especially for young people) - all of these factors contribute overwhelmingly to the gun violence that we are seeing today.  Vermont has been reasonable in its approach to gun legislation, (much of it passed prior to my time in the Legislature), carefully and thoughtfully balancing the great hunting and gun ownership traditions we pride ourselves on with safety for the general public. Information on gun safety is readily available by a Google search where one can learn about the safe storage, handling, and operation of a gun. We are queried every time we sit down in a medical provider’s office as to the safety of our homes, the nature of our relationships, whether we have our firearms properly locked up, and if we are struggling with depression or hopelessness. We have been proactive in the education of our public on guns. Now we must address the growing need to expand mental health services to where people in crisis need it - beginning at emergency departments and on calls with law enforcement personnel. Right here in Franklin County a pilot program has been in existence for several years pairing local law enforcement with trained NCSS staff who attend calls together; this program is a great model and should be held up as a standard to the rest of the State. We need to address and support the mental health needs of our communities before it becomes a crisis situation that turns violent. 

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2022 County Courier Candidate Forum #2

QUESTION: With the United States Supreme Court ruling released this summer overturning Roe vs. Wade, combined with Vermont's with Prop. 5 on the ballot in November, the topic of abortion rights is front and center for many voters. Where do you stand personally and politically when it comes to abortion rights in Vermont?

 

ANSWER:  I am a lifelong, practicing Roman Catholic, and I personally believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. I worked collaboratively with colleagues to introduce amendments to H.57 in 2019 (codifying access to abortion services) that added safeguards for minors and opt-outs for conscientious medical practitioners. I voted against Prop 5 when it was on the House floor as Article 22 in the 2021-2022 biennium. These actions were taken by me with the overwhelming support of my constituents. The decision now lies with the voters of the State of Vermont to alter the Constitution of our State to allow unlimited access to all reproductive services with no guardrails for the courts to rely on in their rulings. 

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2022 County Courier Candidate Forum - Sept 1, 2022

Greetings, readers  -
I am Representative Lisa Hango from Berkshire. I’ve represented Franklin-5 (Richford, Berkshire, Franklin, and Highgate) since I was appointed by the Governor on February 14, 2019 to fill an open seat. Prior to that, I spent 30 years volunteering in the community and in the public school system. I serve in a 2-member House District with Representative Wayne Laroche of Franklin. We are members of the Republican Party, and we have both the Republican and Democratic nominations on the ballot this November. We are grateful to have earned your support and will continue to represent your interests at the Statehouse. 
I serve on the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, dealing with a wide variety of legislation from homelessness, mobile homes, and rental housing, alcohol and tobacco laws, employment statutes, to the National Guard and veterans affairs,  and miscellaneous subjects that don’t fall under any other committee’s jurisdiction; we work closely with Judiciary, Commerce, and Natural Resources, as much of the subject matter overlaps. 
I am also a tri-party Co-Chair of the VT National Guard and Veterans Affairs Caucus, a non-partisan organization of nearly 60 House, Senate, and community members which meets monthly to discuss relevant legislative priorities, supports positive change for active military and veterans, and offers educational opportunities for legislators to learn more about what our military does for us and how the greater business community can benefit from and support veterans and service members. 
Over the last four years, I’ve worked to understand the depth and breadth of subject matter that comes before us, and I am the senior representative from my party on the House General Committee.  I co-founded the VT NG&VA Caucus with two House colleagues in 2020, one who is affiliated with the Democratic Party and one who is an Independent, so I am no stranger to working across the aisle towards a common cause.
Examples of legislation that I support are bills to remove Act 250 restrictions to allow for more housing; implementing tax relief policies; increasing educational opportunities for medical professionals and military service members and their families; promoting workforce development in the trades, STEM, and medical professions; supporting the creative arts economy, on-farm business opportunities and working lands initiatives for farmers and loggers. I’ve worked to address water quality initiatives for Lake Champlain, Lake Carmi, and Lake Memphremagog, and I will continue to advocate to benefit these great recreational resources in Northern Vermont. Bills that I sponsored that I am particularly grateful to my colleagues for putting aside political differences to pass are ones that opened up new scholarships for military members and their families and advanced practice medical providers to receive tuition assistance in exchange for a work commitment in Vermont. 
If re-elected, I intend to work closely with colleagues to build on and advance legislation that provides expanded opportunity for economic growth that will re-vitalize downtowns by incentivizing small businesses to fill empty storefronts, remove barriers to building affordable housing for working families, assist students with higher education opportunities to maximize our workforce in critical occupations, and support the needs of our National Guard and veterans. 
It is truly an honor to serve Vermonters in the General Assembly, and I thank you for the opportunity. 
Stay well,
Rep Lisa A Hango 
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Primary Vote Thank You

Dear Constituents -

THANK YOU for getting out to vote during Vermont’s primary election! I truly appreciate the overwhelming support I received!

As we saw with this election, voting in the primary was crucial to putting forth our best candidates who support our views and values in the General Election in November; some won the nomination, and some didn’t.  It will be more important than ever this year to get ALL VOTERS to the polls. .  Everyone deserves a voice, and those voices cannot be heard unless everyone votes!! 

As many of you have asked, I will be putting out my signs in late September, and I thank everyone who has requested one. 

 

Enjoy the remainder of summer! 

Stay well,

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2022 Primary Day Voting

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2022 Legislative Session Voting Record

As reported by the Ethan Allen Institute:


Override Clean Heat Carbon Tax Veto (H.715). Failed 99-51 (100 to override) on May 10, 2022. The Clean Heat Standard (CHS) is a complicated, de facto carbon tax intended to hide the price increases on fossil fuels. If heating fuel sellers do not generate enough “clean heat credits” themselves through weatherization and green appliance installations, they must purchase credits generated by others to stay in business. Those voting YES believe the CHS will help Vermont achieve its GWSA 2025 & 2030 greenhouse gas reduction mandates. House members voting YES trust the PUC to implement the Clean Heat Standard without needing further legislative approval. Those voting NO believe the CHS would lead to extreme hardship for the 200,000+ fossil fuel heating Vermont households and numerous small businesses supplying and relying on fossil fuels. The technology to replace fossil fuel heating systems is not currently scalable to satisfy the GWSA, due to labor and supply restraints.

HANGO - NO

Impose Rental Registration with Housing Programs (S.210). Passed 88-54 on April 22, 2022. The flagship provision of S.210 is a statewide registry of rental properties. Landlords can only rent housing if they pay $35 to register it and may not rent units that fail inspection (complaint basis). 7 full-time bureaucrats would administer the program, with salaries initially paid by federal ARPA money. Units rented out for fewer than 90 days are exempt. S.210 also creates two housing programs, designed to expand Vermont’s rental market and increase the homeownership rate. Those voting YES believe S.210 will increase the quantity, affordability and safety of Vermont’s rental housing market. Those voting NO were against the rental registry portion of S.210. They believe increasing housing regulations will reduce Vermont’s housing supply, raise rent on properties, shrink Vermont’s tourism industry, and reduce tax intake from short-term rentals. This could represent the first step toward state control of rental property.

HANGO - NO

Restrict Aggressive Political Speech and Firearm Rights (S.265). Passed 89-32 on April 12, 2022. The underlying language of S.265 would allow for the legal punishment of citizens who are aggressive toward public officials. Citizens could be given a misdemeanor (a year or less in prison) or even a felony (up to two years in prison). A felony charge could result in temporary or permanent seizure of firearms. S.265 also makes it more difficult for a defendant’s legal defense to claim that the defendant was unable to carry out their threat. Those voting YES believe that conflicts between citizens and school board members and other public official across the country warrants increased protections for elected officials from threats of violence, above those of ordinary citizens. Those voting NO believe S.265 infringes on the Constitutional rights to free speech, to petition government and Second Amendment firearm rights. S.265 could potentially result in citizens being punished for criticism (not threats) of certain groups, which is clearly protected First Amendment speech.

HANGO - NO

Add 27 days for “Default Proceed” Firearm Background Checks (Notte Amendment of S.30). Passed on January 27, 2022 by a vote of 97-49. This would lengthen the time some Vermont firearm applications take from 3 to 30 days. Those voting YES believe this amended bill could “potentially save lives,” by preventing dangerous police retrievals of guns for those who ultimately fail federal background checks. Those voting NO point to the rights to firearms protected in the Vermont and US Constitutions. They note that failed background checks have a shelf life of 30 days, meaning the applicant could be caught in an endless cycle.

HANGO - NO

Protect Doctor-Patient Privacy during Firearm Disputes (Donahue Motion of S.30). Failed on January 27, 2022 by a vote of 55-90. S.30 would add various gun restrictions, as voted upon above. The Donahue Motion would send S.30 and the Notte amendment to the House Healthcare Committee for further review. Those voting YES believe that greater deliberation was needed for discovering how S.30 could impact Vermonter’s doctor/patient relationships, if healthcare workers become legally obligated to report patients, limiting their firearm rights. Those voting NO believe that no such analysis was necessary.

HANGO - YES

Stricter Act 250 Development Process (S.234). Passed 99-43 on May 3, 2022. S.234 reorganizes the Act 250 approval process, which restricts economic development. The new permitting process adds “undue adverse impact on forest blocks (or) connecting habitat” to the list of reasons an Act 250 permit could be rejected. S.234 also offers favorable tax treatment to areas that already have economic development. The permit fees would fund the salaries of a new “Environmental Review Board,” overseeing Act 250 permits. Those voting YES believe updating Act 250 will reduce Vermont’s carbon emissions, preserve natural habitat for wildlife and funnel development into downtown areas. Those voting NO believe S.234 will make getting Act 250 permit approval more difficult, costly and uncertain. Housing and business development will fall further behind.

HANGO - NO

Mandate Conserving Half of Vermont Land from Development (H.606).Passed 98-42 on March 15, 2022. H.606 mandates conserving 30% of Vermont land by 2030, and 50% by 2050. Vermont would need to conserve another 6-8% of its private and public lands by 2030, and more than double its land conservation by 2050. Conserved land would gain "permanent protection" of a "natural state" of land, or could by subject to "long-term forest management." It is unclear what would happen if Vermont failed to meet these mandates, though conservation groups could conceivably sue Vermont for failing to address climate change quickly enough under the 2020 GWSA. Those voting YES believe greater conservation of land under H.606 will reduce the damage that climate change will have on Vermont ecosystems. Those voting NO believe creating new mandates will only increase the cost of living and intensify Vermont’s housing crisis, if less land is available for residential and commercial development. A land grab against private landowners is possible.

HANGO - NO

Enact Contractor Registration & 3 Housing Programs (S.226). Passed 103-42 on May 6, 2022. S.226 would enact a Residential Contractors Registry, requiring contractors to pay $75-250 annually to work legally in state, with an option of becoming certified in specific areas of contracting. S.226 also seeks to increase Vermont’s housing stock and make existing homes more affordable, by spending $20 million in federal ARPA funding on three housing programs. Those voting YES believe S.226 will protect Vermonters from contractor fraud, while the programs will alleviate Vermont’s housing crisis. Those voting NO opposed the contractor registry portion of the bill, believing home improvement fraud is rare enough that government intrusion is unnecessary. When fraud does happen, Vermont government has been reluctant to use the tools available to address it. Contractors are likely to raise their rates to cover the registry charge and added paperwork needed to do their jobs.

HANGO - NO

Create ‘Environmental Rights’ to Defend (S.148). Passed 109-31 on May 3, 2022. S.148 would acknowledge the environmental disparities minorities face in Vermont and to give those minorities more chances to live and work in the safest and least polluted areas of Vermont. A new 17-member Environmental Justice Advisory Council and an 11-member Interagency Environmental Justice Committee would make recommendations to the Legislature and Vermont government agencies for integrating environmental justice principles into State policy. Those voting YES argued that minorities live and work in environmentally undesirable locations relative to white Vermonters. Those voting NO are wary of adding 28 individuals to Vermont’s bureaucracy (insulated from Vermont citizen objections), who will likely make costly recommendations, with no shortage of ‘injustices’ to alleviate.

HANGO - NO

Expand Police Reporting, Study Misconduct & Interrogation (S.250).Passed 99-48 on May 11, 2022. First, S.250 expands obligated police collection of demographic data from roadside stops to any police encounter with citizens. Second, it creates a database of pending police infractions against individual officers. Finally, a study of appropriate police interrogation is authorized. Those voting YES believe more substantial data collection on police encounters and oversight of police interrogation techniques are needed. Those voting NO believe that expanding police encounter data will overburden exhausted police with more paperwork, exhibiting a distrust in the police that makes recruitment and retention difficult. The interrogation study begins with a bias against police already, having reached a predetermined conclusion that future legislation is needed to correct police misconduct.

HANGO - NO

Make Town Withdrawal from School Districts More Difficult (H.727).Passed 98-39 on March 17, 2022. H.727 encourages multi-town school district foundation and discourages town school withdrawal from school districts. Current Vermont statute allows town citizens to bring school withdrawal from a district to a vote. H.727 would require more paperwork to be completed before the proposed withdrawal goes to vote, and gives the State Board of Education a final say in that withdrawal process. Those voting YES believe school withdrawal requires more serious deliberation than is currently the case, and want to give Vermont veto authority in such decisions. Those voting NO objected to the added paperwork that is especially onerous for smaller towns hoping to separate from their district. H.727 takes away local decision-making power and centralizes it in the State Board of Education.

HANGO - NO

Protect Doctor-Patient Privacy during Firearm Disputes (Donahue Motion of S.30). Failed on January 27, 2022 by a vote of 55-90. S.30 would add various gun restrictions, as voted upon above. The Donahue Motion would send S.30 and the Notte amendment to the House Healthcare Committee for further review. Those voting YES believe that greater deliberation was needed for discovering how S.30 could impact Vermonter’s doctor/patient relationships, if healthcare workers become legally obligated to report patients, limiting their firearm rights. Those voting NO believe that no such analysis was necessary.

HANGO - YES

Ensure Assisted Suicide is Voluntary (S.74). Failed 41-98 on April 13, 2022. S.74 would expand Vermont’s euthanasia law to allow terminally ill individuals to order the drugs they need to kill themselves exclusively with video telemedicine. The Donahue Amendment of S.74 would safeguard against the possibility of coercion by insisting that one of the patient’s appointments be in-person. Those voting YES believe eliminating the in-person requirement could make it much easier for those with authority over the individual to coerce the patient into ending their life before they would like to. Those voting NO believe many terminally ill Vermonters are not well enough to visit a healthcare provider, making video telemedicine the logical option.

HANGO - YES

Guarantee "Personal Reproductive Autonomy" (Proposal 5). Passed on February 8, 2022 by a vote of 107-41. Proposal 5 would amend Vermont’s Constitution, adding “that an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” Those voting YES argued that a constitutional amendment is necessary to protect abortion rights in case Roe v. Wade is overturned. Those voting NO may or may not be in favor of greater abortion protections, but argued that the vaguely worded language in Proposal 5 that does not mention ‘abortion’ is so ambiguous that any number of judicial interpretations could be reached.

HANGO - NO

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Workforce Development Announcement

June 21, 2022 –
Today I attended Governor Phil Scott’s press conference at Vermont Precision Tools in Swanton VT where he highlighted S.11 (Act 183), a substantial workforce development bill. A transcript of the Governor’s statements follows below. Among many other provisions, this bill contains language from H.332, a bipartisan bill that I co-sponsored to enable loan forgiveness to Physician Assistants if they commit to working in Vermont. With the current healthcare workforce shortage coupled with an aging population (Vermont is one of the oldest states in the nation), the lack of healthcare providers has reached crisis proportions, leaving Vermonters with long wait times across all specialties and regions of the state. As doctors (MDs and DOs) age out of their practices, there are fewer Vermonters being accepted to medical schools to replace them, so the need for NPs and PAs is expanding. The original intent of the language in Act 183 was to include only Nurse Practitioners (NPs) because Vermont does not have a school for Physician Assistant Studies, leaving behind those students who don’t follow a traditional nursing path to becoming a higher level healthcare provider. My co-sponsor and I saw a need to include PAs in this loan forgiveness/scholarship model as a way to bring diversity and numbers to Vermont’s healthcare system by incentivizing those students who have studied out of state to return home to Vermont or to move to Vermont for the first time. We successfully advocated for this language and are pleased that it was included in S.11’s final iteration.

The Governor also called out the passage of H.517, an expansion of the National Guard Tuition Benefits Program that I worked closely on with my Senate and House colleagues; this bill provides a necessary recruitment incentive for our Guard to attract members from across the country, who will be contributing to Vermont employers and community organizations for the length of their careers.

Programs like these will energize and stimulate workforce growth, as students take advantage of a multitude of educational opportunities and put them to use in Vermont’s economy made possible by bills like S.11 and H.517.

It is an honor to represent your interests in the Legislature and to work together with my colleagues to affect change that will benefit all Vermonters.
Stay well,
Lisa


TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT OUTLINES NEW WORKFORCE INITIATIVES TO FILL AVAILABLE JOBS AND CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITY VERMONTERS

Swanton, Vt. – At his weekly media briefing, Governor Phil Scott highlighted initiatives and investments passed this year to help train, retain and recruit more workers to address Vermont’s workforce shortage.

The Governor was joined by state leaders from the Department of Labor, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Agency of Human Services and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to discuss newly passed legislation that will help grow and strengthen the workforce, including regional workforce expansion program, loan forgiveness and incentives to retain nurses, and investments in higher education and adult training programs.

Vermont Precision Tools hosted the event and the company’s president, Monica Greene, also shared details on the company’s efforts to train, retain and recruit employees.

More details can be found in the below transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks or by clicking here to view the press conference.

Governor Scott: Thank you all for being here and thanks to Vermont Precision Tools for hosting us.

We’re here today to talk about a familiar theme – one that I’ve focused on since my very first day in office, and that’s workforce.

At the start of each legislative session, I outline my Administration’s priorities for the year. I’m sure most of you have heard me talk about our strategic priorities before: growing the economy; making Vermont more affordable; and protecting the most vulnerable.

To accomplish each of these goals, we keep coming back to our Achilles’ heel: The lack of workers in our workforce.

Now, as you might remember, during my first term as governor I spoke a lot about three numbers: 6-3-1. Each of them representing concerning trends we were facing – and this was long before the pandemic. On average, we were seeing six fewer workers in our workforce, three fewer kids in our K-12 schools, and one child born to addiction, every single day.

We were beginning to make progress, but then along came a once-in-a-century pandemic that had ripple effects far beyond public health.

If you talk to any employer – and you’ll hear from a great one here at Vermont Precision Tools – finding people to fill the good jobs they have available is a challenge.

That’s why, with record state surpluses and all the federal funding, I thought it was so important to invest in areas I knew would make a difference.

All the proposals we put forward were tied together to address this issue: To have more workers, we need more housing. To have more housing, we need water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. To support workers and give them reasons to come here, we need broadband, childcare, and safe, healthy and thriving communities. And to keep costs down and protect the environment, we need to invest in things like weatherization.

But we also need workforce training and development programs, which is why we’re here today.

My team worked closely with the Legislature, in particular the economic development and health care committees, to pass S.11, now Act 183, which includes major investments to expand and strengthen our workforce. There were also important workforce investments in the budget for higher education and VSAC to make getting the needed skills more affordable. And I want to mention H.518, now Act 172, which gives more financial assistance for Guard members to continue their education.

It was great to see support for so many initiatives that will help move the needle on our workforce shortage – though we all know we need to do more.

I want to acknowledge all the members of the House and Senate here today, and in particular, the Chair of House Economic Development Mike Marcotte for your close collaboration and commitment to getting these initiatives passed.

Members of my team will speak more about some of the specifics in a moment, but you’ll hear about ways employers and potential employees can better connect; support for refugees entering the workforce; and incentives to recruit workers to Vermont. And while we have shortages in every sector, we know healthcare is a big one, so S.11 included tools specifically for healthcare workers and nurses. We’ll also hear from Scott Giles of VSAC which received funding to help more students access post-secondary education and training, and a forgivable loan program to keep more of them here after they graduate.

This is just a handful if initiatives that were passed this session, and we’ll highlight more as these programs get up and running.

But no matter what government does, this work is not possible without strong leadership and partnership from the private sector. Employers finding new ways to attract, train and retain workers is essential to our success.

Vermont Precision Tools is not just our host today but a great example of an employer who is running their own training program. It’s now my pleasure to turn the podium over to Monica Greene, president of Vermont Precision Tools, to talk more about the work the company does, as well as some of the challenges they face because of our workforce shortage.

 

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Legislative Update - 13 May 2022

Dear Constituents –
The Legislature officially adjourned Thursday evening, having passed a record $8.3 billion budget containing historic investments in broadband, housing, infrastructure, workforce and economic development, healthcare, tourism, and the creative sector. We also passed bills containing modest tax relief, education funding, investments in childcare, food security, the trades, changes to Act 250 permitting in downtowns and village centers, provisions for the forest products industry, and many other initiatives that we can be proud of. For a complete listing, please see the General Assembly website www.legislature.vermont.gov and click on the Current House Journal and the Current Senate Journal to view individual bills. While I remained disappointed in provisions passed for military retirees and regulations for residential building contractors, I understand the importance of compromise and working to advance legislation that will help all Vermonters, and my votes reflect my sentiments.
A true highlight of the week was being present at the ceremony to recognize the newest National Guard State Partnership Program with Austria and introducing our honorees to the General Assembly.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve Franklin-5 in the Vermont House, and I am pleased to announce that I will be running for re-election in the Fall in our two-seat district with Rep Wayne Laroche of Franklin. For more information, please visit www.hangoforhouse.com. I look to forward seeing many of you over the Summer and Fall campaign season.
Thank you and stay well,
Rep Lisa A Hango, Berkshire
Franklin-5

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