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Legislative Update - 14 January 2022

Legislative Update – 14 January 2022

 

Dear Constituents –

Our second week back in the virtual Legislature featured a packed schedule – Committees worked on their responses to the Budget Adjustment memo, heard introductions of new bills, and took testimony on bills from last year. The House General Committee was thoughtful in our response to the ask for housing funding in the budget, and I hope that our comments will be helpful to the Appropriations Committee that has the task of approving those requests. New bills that were introduced are on human rights issues, and holdover bills include several on discrimination and employment practices.  We will continue to take testimony on the ones that are prioritized by House leadership. We also discussed two bills from last session that were on the House calendar and postponed one legislative day, S.78 a collective bargaining bill for the Judiciary, and H.157 the requirement for registration of residential contractors.  Both are scheduled for a vote by the full House next week.

On the House floor, we voted out two additional bills relating to temporary elections measures S.222 and S.223. These bills give your municipalities additional options to hold their annual meetings and handle candidate petitions and school ballots in a safe manner during the continuing Omicron wave. Floor time on Friday was devoted to much discussion about a House Rules Resolution H.R.14 that will enable us to safely return in person to the Statehouse on the 18th and H.589, the first of two re-districting bills that we will take up. In regards to H.589, many Boards of Civil Authority have already weighed in on a map that was sent out and approved by the Legislative Apportionment Board in November; the House Government Operations Committee chose to not use that “majority” map for their bill and instead used the “alternate” map.  This bill appears to be moving forward, and the Committee has assured the Legislature that BOTH maps will be sent out to BCA’s for the second round, with comments due back by February 15, so please be on the lookout for those maps and be sure to send feedback if you serve on your community’s BCA if it is passed. This is a once in a decade process, and it directly affects how your district is represented in the Legislature for the next ten years.

Special issues Caucuses this week included:  the National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus, of which I am a Co-Chair, with VTNG Family Programs discussing support for deployed units returning home and the Secretary of State’s Office on the challenges of voting from remote locations overseas; the Older Vermonters Caucus on Medicaid reimbursement rates and the need for more Adult Day programs; the REDWnG Rural development working group on an omnibus bill that encompasses many of the needs we heard on a forest economy tour this Fall; and the Tourism Caucus on how marketing and pandemic relief dollars are being spent.  Due to the House floor session running overtime, the Women’s Caucus did not meet this week.

Please continue to reach out with concerns and questions. [email protected]

Stay well,

Rep Lisa A Hango, Berkshire

Franklin-5

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Legislative Update - 7 January 2022

                                     Legislative Update – 07 January 2022

Dear Constituents – Happy New Year!

A new Legislative session has begun, but the reality for many legislators is that we continue to work in the off-session; assisting constituents, collaborating with special issues caucuses, and seeking information. After adjourning on May 21, the General Assembly met via Zoom on June 23 for a veto session and December 8 for a fiscal briefing, and we held in-person voting at the Statehouse on November 21 and January 4. The House General (my committee) and House Human Services Committees also held an in-person joint hearing on October 18 to discuss housing and related supportive services. Aside from those official meetings, there were special issues caucus meetings, economic development tours (I participated in a forest economy tour of Franklin and Lamoille Counties), and local events relating to Lake Carmi, the Franklin County State Airport, workforce development at Kaytec (with the Cold Hollow Career Center), and Moving Richford Forward.

The Vermont National Guard Caucus, of which I am a Co-Chair, re-branded itself to the VT National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus, to better reflect our mission of being a liaison between the military and veterans, families, employers, and legislators. We welcomed partner organizations into our Caucus, including the Governors’ Veterans Advisory Council, the VT Veterans Administration, the National Guard Family Support Group, and the USS Vermont Submarine Support Group; they continue to provide us with information that assists us in understanding the legislature’s role with Vermont’s military organizations. We also held our first Public Hearing on Veterans Affairs on October 28, where we heard overwhelmingly that Vermont needs to be competitive with other states by exempting military retirement pay from taxation, something we have been advocating for as a Caucus throughout our first year. We also heard from individuals that there need to be more mental health supports for veterans, which is being echoed throughout our country in schools, hospitals, and community settings.

The General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee spent this week taking testimony on several employment anti-discrimination, collective bargaining, and alcohol bills, and we are working on our response to the Budget Adjustment Act letter, which is due on January 11 and contains important affordable housing language.

The General Assembly saw limited floor time, passing routine Resolutions and fast-tracking S.172 giving municipalities the option to hold their Annual Meetings remotely again in 2022.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]

Stay well,

Rep Lisa A Hango

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2021 Veto Session Legislative Update

Dear Constituents –

June 23/24 marked the General Assembly veto session where the majority party succeeded in overriding the Governor’s veto of H.177 and H.227, changes to the Charters of the cities of Montpelier and Winooski, respectively. These charter changes allow for the right of non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, and in the case of Winooski, municipal and school elections. Proponents of these bills argued that these folks already pay taxes and volunteer in their communities, so they should be allowed the right to vote.  I believe that the right to vote comes with becoming a US citizen and the responsibilities associated with that process. I opposed these charter changes, as did all 45 fellow Republicans in the House and 7 in the Senate, along with one House Independent and 3 Senate Democrats – I thank them for their votes and the courage to stand up for what they feel is right.

 

After the House adjourned, the Senate continued to do damage in the form of passing two more bills – H.157 that establishes a registry of construction contractors, and S.79 that establishes a registry of rental housing units (both long term and short term rentals inclusive). Neither of these bills were necessary to pass during a session that should only have dealt with gubernatorial vetoes, and both of them seek to grow big government by raising fees and adding State employees. I opposed each of these bills as they made their way from my Committee through the House, and I was pleased to see my like-minded colleagues in the Senate voice their opposition. We did all we could to prevent this bureaucracy from being passed, and now it is up to the Governor to take a stand.

 

I wish you all a very healthy, safe summer as we move into the recovery phase of our post-COVID world. I am thankful to put this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic in my rear-view mirror! Please continue to reach out to me at [email protected]

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

Franklin-5

 

 

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Voting Record 2/14/19 to 5/14/21

Please click on this link to view my voting record from February 2019, when I was appointed by Governor Phil Scott to the end of the 2021 session in May:


https://www.ethanallen.org/lhango

Thank you to the Ethan Allen Institute for allowing me to post from their website and for compiling this data to promote informed voting!

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

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Legislative Update - May 21, 2021

Dear Constituents –

As of Friday May 21 at 5PM, the Legislative session has ended, as the House followed the Senate by adjourning after passing our Budget, H.439 and an Joint Adjournment Resolution, JRS029. It appears that we will have a short veto session on June 23/24, as the Governor has vetoed at least S.107, an act relating to confidential information concerning the initial arrest and charge of a juvenile. 

Other bills passed this week with my comments are as follows:

S.48 the interstate nurses licensure compact - a good step in the right direction to bolster our healthcare workforce; S.101 promoting housing choice and opportunity in smart growth areas – this bill contained a surcharge on the property transfer tax that is unnecessary at this time when we have a budget surplus; H.433 the Transportation Bill Report of the Committee of Conference was accepted; S.25 miscellaneous changes to cannabis procedures – I do not support the underlying tax and regulate concept; H.449 changes to the Vermont pension investment plan and commission – I couldn’t support this because the responsibility to consider other types of benefit plans was removed from the language at the 11th hour; H.313 miscellaneous changes to alcohol law – I was pleased to be able to support the continuation of “to-go” alcoholic beverages with food orders, although the exclusion of direct-to-consumer shipping of spirits was disappointing; H.360 accelerated community broadband deployment – I will be interested to see how this is implemented; H.436 a miscellaneous tax bill; S.62 including employee incentives, technical eduction, and unemployment insurance – this was a difficult yes vote in that it contained not only a mechanism to reduce the burden on employers’ unemployment insurance ratings but also a burden on employers in the form of extra UI benefits to recipients. This was a hard bargain driven by the majority party, and we reluctantly agreed to the compromise to put future business protections ahead of other concerns; if we chose to vote this down, businesses would be hit with extraordinary taxes and their UI rate schedules would have suffered unsustainably.

Some bills of interest to constituents that didn’t make it through the process were H.157 regulation of residential construction contractors and S.79 improving rental housing health and safety. Both were fraught with concerns that were voiced during long committee and floor debates, as well as in letters, phone calls, and emails to your Representatives.

Throughout the session, 100 bills were passed! In my opinion, that is far too great a number when we were charged with focusing on COVID mitigation and relief and economic recovery.  I spoke up many times to voice my frustration over taking up bills that had no nexus to COVID and that could wait until a real, in-person session in January.

I will continue to be available for any comments or concerns by phone, via my website at www.hangoforhouse.com or on my legislative email [email protected] , which I will monitor throughout the off-season.

Thank you for the honor of serving you.

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

Franklin-5

 

 

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Legislative Update - May 14, 2021

Dear Constituents –

Today marks not only the lifting of the mask requirement by the CDC, but also by Governor Scott, a welcome sign that we are on the road to recovery from this pandemic.

As committee hearings wind down, House General concluded taking testimony on H.313, a miscellaneous alcohol bill that is coming back to us from the Senate, and we will be amending it with pieces of H.178, another alcohol bill, on Tuesday.  Next week is the scheduled last week of the 2021 Legislative session, although we do have a scheduled veto session in late June, should that be necessary.  There is talk of a short October session to implement funding mechanisms for the federal infrastructure bill, but that will hopefully be incorporated into the beginning of the 2022 session.

On the House floor, we passed a number of bills, including S.3 an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense, H.438 Capital construction and State bonding, S.48 a nurse licensure compact bill, and several Resolutions: HR 11 allowing a return to in-person legislative work 30 days after the State of Emergency is lifted, JRS 6 racism as a public health emergency, and an amendment to JRH 2 an apology for the eugenics movement. We also sent two bills to Committees of Conference: H.433 the miscellaneous DMV bill and H.360 accelerated community broadband deployment. The House also passed S.15, an act relating to correcting defective ballots, which is so much more than the name implies.  This is a bill that originated in the Senate and puts into statute universal mail-in balloting for all general elections going forward, beginning with the 2022 election. I took issue with this and voted against this bill on the premise that it does not satisfy my concerns for Town Clerks bearing the burden of “curing” ballots that are defective, and ballot harvesters continuing to use drop boxes or hand delivery of up to 25 ballots per person/organization under the guise of “helping out community members who need assistance”. The Strong amendment, of which I was a co-signer, sought to delay implementation of S.15 measures until 2024, which would allow the Secretary of State’s Office to deliver an important report to the committees of jurisdiction on safeguards to ensure the integrity of our elections. If you share my concerns, please continue to voice those concerns to the House and Senate committees on Government Operations and the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office. 

It is an honor to serve as your Representative, and I encourage you to reach out to me with your comments at www.hangoforhouse.com Or [email protected]

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango,

Franklin-5

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Legislative Update - May 7, 2021

Dear Constituents –

After months of discussion and debate, the General, Housing, and Military Affairs committee passed by a vote of 8-3-0 S.79, a comprehensive bill to improve rental housing health and safety.  There are pieces contained in this legislation to like – namely, clearer exemptions to the eviction moratorium that will help landlords in certain extenuating circumstances and incentives for property owners to rehabilitate vacant or blighted housing stock, as well as a program to encourage first-time home ownership. As with most legislation this session, there are also pieces that I could not support, and the negatives outweighed the positives this time. This legislation establishes up to 6.5 new positions in State government for the registration of all rental properties and the enforcement of inspections on those properties, along with the associated appropriation of State dollars and required fees to pay for this expansion of government. At a time when we are receiving unheard of amounts of money for economic relief, I find it particularly distasteful to further raise revenue by requiring increased fees from landlords and short-term rental owners. This bill has been sent on to House Ways and Means, as it affects the revenue of the State, and it should be up for a vote of the full House next week. The Senate must concur with the House before it can be sent on for the Governor’s consideration to be signed into law – the journey is not over yet!

At the end of the week, we discussed H.313 as it will be coming back from the Senate, which is our miscellaneous alcohol bill.  There will be more testimony about distribution of low-alcohol “canned cocktails” and also direct to consumer shipping of spirits next week.

On the House Floor, after considerable discourse, a bill to ban chemical PFOAs and PFAs in consumer products was passed unanimously, along with a few others that elicited little to no discussion. Several more bills were referred to money committees or back to the committees of jurisdiction that asked for more time to go over amendments proposed by the Senate.

This morning’s Tourism Caucus focused on relief funding for businesses, and what we as a Caucus could do to provide support for legislation that is being proposed, specifically for language in H.315 and H.159.

As we head into the final two weeks of the session, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns at [email protected] or www.hangoforhouse.com

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

Franklin-5

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Legislative Update - April 30, 2021

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.

Please feel free to reach out to me a www.hangoforhouse.com or [email protected]

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

 

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Legislative Update - April 23, 2021

Dear Constituents-

The General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee spent this week primarily taking testimony on housing issues – S.79 Improving Rental Housing Health and Safety, H.232 Promoting Land and Home Ownership and Economic Opportunity, H.273 Promoting Racial and Social Equity in Land Access and Property Ownership, the effects of the eviction moratorium, and Ag worker housing in a joint hearing with the House Agriculture Committee.  We also took testimony on H.178 dealing with low-alcohol spirits and H.401 a tri-partisan bill Promoting Racial and Social Equity in Vermont.

On the House floor, we passed a literacy bill (S.114), a probation bill (S.45), a bill establishing the Office of the Child Advocate (H.265), a bill setting up a task force on public employees pension reform (H.449), and a miscellaneous Natural Resources subjects bill (H.446) that a group of legislators including myself tried unsuccessfully to amend (Rogers Amendment) in favor of our forest products industry.

The Older Vermonters Caucus heard from representatives of the Area Agencies on Aging and Meals on Wheels about the important work they have continued to do in innovative ways throughout this pandemic, and I applaud their efforts to help Vermonters live independently with dignity and serving the needs of those who care for them. The REDWnG rural working group discussed TIF and mini-TIF funding and how these programs are important tools in the toolkit for municipalities to fund projects. We also heard from the Commissioner of Forest, Parks, and Recreation about the needs of our forest products industry and the marketplace challenges that face them in light of the pandemic.

Lastly, the Tourism Caucus took up the issue of shuttered performance venues, and we heard compelling testimony from organizations such as Higher Ground, the Champlain Valley Exposition, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra as to how the pandemic has affected their revenues.

We have been told that the Legislative session has been extended to May 22 in order to pass bills, but I certainly hope we can adjourn before then – there is a great deal of non-essential legislation being worked on in committees that can wait until we are no longer legislating over Zoom in a State of Emergency.

You may reach me at [email protected] or www.hangoforhouse.com

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

Franklin-5

 

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Legislative Update - April 16, 2021

Dear Constituents –

This has been a long week in the virtual Statehouse – Floor time commanded most of our time, with days stretching long into the evening. In Committee, we continued to take testimony on S.79, a rental housing health and safety bill that proposes, among several other concepts, to implement two rental housing registries – for both long-term and short-term rentals.  We also received the statutorily mandatory Annual Sexual Harassment and Assault Report to the Legislature from the National Guard.  In the National Guard Caucus this week, we held a joint hearing with the Legislative Women’s Caucus for an informative Q & A session with the Guard leadership on these issues, and more discussion ensued at the Women’s Caucus meeting later in the week. The remainder of our committee time was devoted to a “Mobile Home Park 101” presentation and testimony on collective bargaining and wage and hour bills.

Most of my time was taken up with meetings to craft an amendment to S.53, which during the week became a “Christmas tree” with everything but the kitchen sink hung on it.  This bill was a simple bill that came over from the Senate exempting feminine hygiene products from taxation. During the course of its time in the House, language was added to amend corporate tax codes, change fees charged to companies selling mutual funds in the State, exempt said products from sales tax, and add a “Cloud tax” for any use of cloud-based software as a service that we may use. My involvement in this bill came about suddenly when the House Ways and Means Committee at the 11th hour took language from a bill on the wall that proposed to exempt military retirement pensions from Vermont State personal income tax and inserted it into this bill.  This is legislation that the National Guard Caucus with the Department of Defense, has identified as a priority for separating service members.  More personally, we all know that the State faces a serious workforce shortage – companies can’t find enough workers. Retiring service members who are looking to make their last move to a state of their choosing are often reluctant to choose Vermont as their “forever home” because of the lack of hospitable legislation to protect their assets. The last-minute addition of the pension exemption language created a perfect storm for amendments, divisions, and roll call votes. The NG Caucus got to work immediately, after determining that although the addition of this language was an unexpected and welcome addition, it was more of a case of carrot and stick, to entice those of us who favor the tax exemption as a way to honor military service members, to vote for a hefty tax increase.  We crafted an amendment asking for an increase in the threshold amount, which was defeated in Ways and Means and on the Floor, despite welcome tri-partisan support for it.  The bill was divided and amended over four hours of floor debate, giving us all the opportunity to show support for the portions that were important to our constituents.  The final bill that passed the House unfortunately contains the Cloud tax that will raise $11 million over four years at a time when we are receiving a bounty of federal dollars into State coffers and don’t need to be raising taxes on hard-working Vermonters. The other bill that caused us to lose sleep was H.175, an update to bottle redemption statutes, which includes new types and sizes of containers in the redemption category, making a trip to the grocery store a more costly venture and a trip to the redemption center more cumbersome. Over at least six hours, on two different days, this bill was debated and amended.  The end result was in my opinion a poorly thought-out piece of legislation that does nothing more to advance clean water or reduce litter than is being done by the recycling and redemption laws that already exist; in fact, it appears to make that trip to the grocery store or redemption center even more costly and complex. Both of these are on their way to the Senate where we will wait with interest to see what action they take.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns at [email protected] or

www.hangoforhouse.com

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango

Franklin-5

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