Legislative Update - 24 MARCH 2023
Dear Constituents –
This was the week of the deadline for money bills to « cross over » to the other Chamber – we spent many long hours on the House floor hearing debate and voting on bills, as well as Committee meetings scattered throughout our days to hear amendments from money committees to bills that previously passed out of Goverment Operations & Military Affairs.
As a reminder for the next section of this report, to find the text of a bill, one can type in the bill number on the General Assembly webpage and see several iterations of a bill – please click on the bill as passed by the House for the most up to date version ; if it is an S. bill at this time of year, click on as passed by the Senate.
Among the bills that passed throughout the House are the following, listed by bill number and title. Those that I voted in favor of include : H.55 unemployment insurance amendments ; H.110 extending the sunset on siting telecommunications towers ;H.171 adult protective services ; H.471 technical and administrative changes to VT tax law ; H.476 radiologist assistants ; H.178 commissioning Department of Corrections personnel as notaries public ; H.288 liability for the sale of alcoholic beverages ; H.476 miscellaneous changes to law enforcement officer training laws ; H.481 public health initiatives to address death by suicide.
Those that I did not support include : H.230 implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide, which the Defender General has testified is unconstitutional ; H.482 Vermont Criminal Justice Council recommendations for law enforcement officer training, which reflects changes that this appointed body has oversight of and makes no provision for how the transition in training practices will roll out ; H.126 community resilience and biodiversity protection, which requires that 30% of land will be conserved by 2030 and 50% will be conserved by 2050 by purported voluntary means ; H.66 paid family and medical leave, which has an estimated cost of $118 million/year and requires an employer-funded payroll tax ; H.270 miscellaneous amendments to the adult-use and medical cannabis programs, which passed through my committee with disregard to the recommendations of the Vermont Medical Society ; H.165 Universal School Meals which is another high cost program ($28-33M per year) to be paid out of the Education Fund that could be managed at a lesser cost by utilizing non-identifying swipe cards and a more detailed screening tool.
For a complete listing of bills passed this week, please see both the House and Senate Journals on the General Assembly website, which lists all action taken each day.
As always, it is an honor to represent you at the Statehouse, and I welcome your questions and concerns at [email protected]
Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5
Legislative Update - 17 MARCH 2023
Dear Constituents –
Crossover week at the Statehouse marks when all bills must « cross over » to the other chamber in order to have a chance of survival for the rest of this session. It began with a snowy, early morning meeting of the VT National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus, which I co-Chair, along with a Democrat and an Independent Representative. We heard from the Adjutant General about the expansion of the Provost Marshal position to full-time (necessary so traditional drill members can access this office), we discussed our frustrations that neither Chamber’s tax committees have taken up the military survivors’ benefits and pension tax exemption bills (S.118/H.255), despite overwhelming bipartisan support, and heard an impressive presentation from CAPT Anne Turner on her role commanding a military base in Qatar during the first wave of evacuation of Kabul (Afghanistan).
On the House floor, despite it being Crossover, we passed relatively few bills compared to other years ; bills of note that were passed : H.461 miscellaneous changes to education law, which contained the expansion of the National Guard Tuition Benefit Program that I proposed in H.99 ; H.175, modernizing the Children and Family Council Prevention Programs ; H.465, amending regional emergency management committee’s meeting quorum requirement ; H.466, a technical corrections bill for the 2023 legislative session ; and three Interstate Compact bills : H.62 for Counseling services, H.77 for licensed Physical Therapists, and H.86, for audiologists and speech-language pathologists, making it simpler for those profressionals to move into Vermont and continue their licensure (think military spouses who move frequently as an example), as well as allowing for interstate telemedicine work.
In committee (Government Operations & Military Affairs), much of what we worked on pertains to the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council. We have several draft bills that are in the works, and I have some concerns about each of them that are gradually being addressed, as I question the witness list. We also passed H.291, creating a Cybersecurity Council ; H.125, an act relating to boards and commissions ; H.178, commissioning Department of Corrections personnel as notaries public ; and H.270, miscellaneous amendments to the adult-use and medical cannabis programs, which I was opposed to on the grounds that several of the proposals were either not well-vetted or they were strongly opposed to by various medical and public health prevention advocates.
Thursday brought the weekly meeting of the Rural Caucus, of which I am also a tri-partisan co-Chair, where we had a presentation on Tourism in Vermont, as well as an overview of H.263, relating to emergency medical services. I am a co-sponsor on this important bill that starts the conversation on how to modernize and sustain our essential EMS infrastructure.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and concerns at [email protected]
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the Statehouse.
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5
2023 Town Meeting Week Report
Town Meeting Week Report, Franklin-5
Dear Constituents –
If I was unable to attend your Town Meeting in person, I’ve prepared this report for your awareness of legislation in the Vermont General Assembly. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns.
My committee, House Government Operations & Military Affairs, according to our webpage: “considers matters relating to the structure, organization, and oversight of State, local, county, and regional government, and municipal corporations; the administration of public safety; compensation and retirement benefits for public officials and employees; elections and reapportionment; liquor and lottery; military affairs; public records and open meetings; information technology and cybersecurity; and other similar policies.” This is a broad and varied portfolio with a steep learning curve. For the first eight weeks of the session, we have taken a deep dive into several of our policy areas, including elections, cannabis regulation, law enforcement officer training and administration, and professional regulation.
In addition to learning about one’s policy areas of jurisdiction, a legislator must learn how their committee’s policy decisions affect the State’s statutorily mandated balanced budget, and we must be mindful of other committee’s legislation that interacts with ours and with the overall budgeting process. It is a complex dance, and the challenge is to work together to benefit all Vermonters.
With the Democratic Party once again in a super-majority position, and being of the minority Republican Party, I made it my goal for this biennium to work with members, regardless of party affiliation, if the end result would benefit my district and not adversely affect other regions of the State. To that end, I am co-chairing the VT Rural Caucus with an Independent and a Democrat to address issues pertaining to rural Vermont. With the hard work of the Administration and House and Senate leadership to hammer out the details, the Budget Adjustment Act (H.145) contains a $3M appropriation for rural technical assistance capacity that, if passed and signed by the Governor, will benefit the towns in Vermont that have the most need for administrative services to identify grants and other funding for infrastructure projects, prepare the paperwork for those grants, plan and manage those projects, and see them completed by the ARPA deadline in 2025. There is an immediacy for municipalities to make decisions on what their needs are and how to act on them because they stand to leave that money on the table if they don’t meet the deadline. Many of our towns, without adequate administrative capacity to take on these critical roles, will miss out on unprecedented federal funding for long-neglected projects, such as drinking water and wastewater upgrades, as well as for broadband, roads and other infrastructure needs.
Additional work that I do on behalf of Vermonters at the Statehouse also involves co-chairing the VT National Guard & Military Affairs Caucus (with a Democrat and an Independent). The primary goal of this Caucus is to be a liaison between the National Guard, the General Assembly, and our constituents and to advocate for legislation to honor and assist current military members, veterans, and their families. This work has been rewarding and challenging, and I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in this way. Current legislation is in support of reduced property taxes for disabled veterans (H.264), a 100% income tax exemption for military pensions and survivors’ benefits (H.255), and an expansion of the National Guard Tuition Benefits Program (H.99).
Other bills that I’ve sponsored or co-sponsored this year may be found by searching the General Assembly website under my profile; a sampling of those include: H.11, relating to commercial insurance coverage of epinephrine auto-injectors; H.48, relating to solid waste management; H.68, relating to removing State and municipal regulatory barriers for fair zoning and housing affordability; H.109, relating to reimbursement for home-delivered meals (Meals on Wheels); H.111, relating to workforce housing; H.124, relating to promoting rural economic development capacity; H.128, relating to removing regulatory barriers for working lands businesses; H.234, relating to regional support for animal control services; H.263, relating to emergency medical services; H.278, relating to post secondary opportunities for Vermont career technical education students; H.340, relating to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program; H.348, relating to requiring licensed athletic trainers at secondary school athletic events and practices; H.367, relating to promoting economic development, administrative capacity, and vitality in rural communities. Many of these bills address the critical needs of Vermonters throughout the State in areas of childcare, housing, food insecurity, and education, as well as capacity needs of small municipalities. With regard to any “S. bills”, at this time, please direct your questions to our Senators, Randy Brock and Robert Norris.
It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature. I welcome your comments at [email protected] or at www.Hangoforhouse.com
Stay well, Rep Lisa A Hango, Berkshire
Legislative Update - 24 FEB 2023 - Week#8
Dear Constituents –
The Statehouse was full this week with many groups visiting during Southern Vermont’s public school break – after three years of silent hallways, it was nice to see so many young people and their families visiting the People’s House. While we in northern Vermont are on school break this week, I highly encourage families with school-aged children to make the trip to Montpelier – our Statehouse is a living and working museum, and we are always happy to visit with constituents and have them feel welcome in our beautiful surroundings. Our doormen, our Pages, our Capitol Police, and the Sergeant at Arm’s office staff are more then willing to speak with everyone who enters the historic lobby with its unique Isle la Motte fossil flooring and soaring ceilings and to share their knowledge of the building and its inner workings. There is also an option for a self-guided audio tour. If you do plan to be in the building, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Representatives and Senators!
In the Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee, we continued to take testimony and re-work a bill containing changes to certain elections statutes, which started as a comprehensive committee bill draft, was combined with H.97, and ended as a much watered-down version. As of this writing, it did not have the support of the three Republicans on the committee or of members of the Progressive party, the Independents, or some members of the Democrat party. The discussion was lively and interesting, from all points of view, but in my opinion, this was a bill looking to solve a problem that either didn’t exist or didn’t solve the right one. Other committee activities revolved around: hearing bill introductions (H.105 establishing a Community Resilience and Disaster Mitigation Fund; H.140 establishing requirements for State-funded grants); listening to Budget presentations; and taking more testimony on H.270, miscellaneous amendments to the adult-use and medical cannabis programs.
The House Floor remained fairly quiet, as many committees are still working on getting the nearly 1/3 new members up to speed on areas of jurisdiction, so they aren’t passing out many bills yet. One bill of note that did pass by voice vote unanimously was H.76, relating to captive insurance, an industry that brings much-needed revenue into the State of Vermont and allows businesses to self-insure.
In the Rural Caucus, we heard presentations from Vermont Council on Rural Development in support of the Working Lands Initiative, the Regional Development Corporations, the Regional Planning Commissions, and the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont, all with specific asks for the rural community.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and concerns at [email protected]
It is an honor to serve.
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5
2023 GNAT-TV interview on Rural issues
Please click on the following link to view the interview I recently participated in to learn more about the work I am doing as a tri-partisan Co-Chair of the VT Rural Caucus:
Also please read about the VT Rural Caucus at this link:
Rep Lisa Hango
Legislative Update - 17 FEB 2023 - Week#7
Dear Constituents –
This week began with co-chairing the VT National Guard & Veterans Affairs Caucus monthly meeting. Retired Colonel and current Representative Michael Morgan of Milton presented a Guard 101 briefing to new and returning Caucus members on the mission and structure of the Guard. We also heard a presentation on the Honorary Commander Program and from the VT Chamber highlighting the importance of the Guard’s presence in Vermont and the civic and economic impact of their members in our communities.
Time in the Government Operations Committee was spent being introduced to new bills by their sponsors: H.180, standardizing opening time of polls and H.226, candidate information provided to the Secretary of State, and hearing from witnesses about the bills in committee and from the USS VT Support Group with respect to their budget request. It was a pleasure to hear former Representative and retired Captain Albert Perry on zoom as the group made their pitch for modest support of the namesake Navy sub’s crew and families. The majority of our time was focused on bill markup and discussion of a Committee bill making updates to the Office of Professional Regulation’s jurisdiction over certain regulated professions, a miscellaneous Elections bill, and H.127 an act relating to Sports Wagering. Both the OPR bill and the online sports-wagering bill passed out of the Committee and will make their way to the House Floor, after stops in other committees of jurisdiction or money committees.
The Rural Caucus met on Thursday to hear about transportation issues and a focus on framing discussions with a rural lens. In addition, our UVM interns each spent an afternoon, as they do each week, in person at the Statehouse following key bills such as childcare, paid family leave, housing, and universal school meals. It is an honor to be able to teach young people about my work in the Legislature and to help them learn about committees, caucuses, and the making of a bill.
I also attended a meeting of the Sportsman’s Caucus, a gathering of approximately 40 House and Senate members who have an interest in hunting, fishing, trapping, land conservation, and outdoor recreation. The Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife spoke to the group on various topics of interest, including bills on the wall, conservation efforts, and hunter education courses.
Very little action took place on the House floor, leaving us much more time for Committee work. A Joint Assembly of the House and Senate to elect the Sergeant at Arms and three UVM Legislative Trustees took place on Thursday. Janet Miller once again was elected as Sergeant at Arms and former Speaker of the House Shap Smith and Reps Monique Priestly (Bradford)and Tristan Toleno (Brattleboro) were elected Trustees.
It is an honor to serve. Please reach out to me at [email protected] with questions and concerns.
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5
Legislative Update - 10 FEB 2023 - Week #6
Dear Constituents –
This week in the Statehouse felt more “routine”, like a pre-pandemic week: press conferences in the Cedar Creek Room, breakfast sidebars in the cafeteria sponsored by various advocacy groups, some in the Card Room displaying posters and props outlining their policy positions, and off-site meetings hosted by others with the opportunity for more in-depth discussion on the issues. Both the Governor and the Lt Governor have resumed their coffee hours for constituents and legislators. All of these gatherings are excellent opportunities to learn in an informal manner what priorities various organizations and government agencies have for this legislative session.
The Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee continued hearing bill introductions from sponsors whose bills have been referred to our committee (a full listing appears on each committee’s webpage); I really appreciate that leadership is making an effort this session to introduce the majority of the bills on our wall – this is at the discretion of the Chair, and in my experience, it has not always been the case in other committees. The GO&MA portfolio is vast and varied, so we are learning about subjects affecting the liquor and lottery system, the state retirement systems, the Office of Professional Regulation, language access for non-English speakers, and interstate healthcare professional compacts.
Action on the House Floor was brief with the passage of H.161 an act regarding the issuance of burning permits and H.46 an act regarding the dissolution of the Colchester Fire District No 3. For those of us who live in rural areas and may have the need to burn brush, H.161 gives the Commissioner of Forest, Parks, and Recreation the authority to instruct Fire Wardens not to issue any burning permits during specified periods of increased fire hazard. This bill has gone over to the Senate for further testimony.
Another bill (H.89) took more time, and it wasn’t quite as inclusive as many of us like to see. The bill aims to protect healthcare providers who offer legal medical services from out of state prosecution if the patient from another state resides in a state that has laws against that procedure. Vermont healthcare professionals already have protections, so this “shield bill” seemed duplicative. However, this presented the opportunity to suggest an amendment that would have protected healthcare workers who are conscientious objectors to not face retaliation or retribution for declining to perform certain services. That amendment never had a chance to come to the floor for a vote, being found “not germane” to the bill being debated, although it clearly affected the rights of healthcare providers as much as the actual bill does. H.89 also has passed to the Senate for their scrutiny.
The Rural Caucus met on Thursday, as we normally do, and heard from the Commissioner of Forests about the progress of the “Forest Futures Roadmap” that the Department was tasked with developing when the session ended last year. A series of public hearings will be held with the goal of getting input from various stakeholders in the forest products industry, with a report due in January 2023. I invite any constituents who have concerns to contact Commissioner Fitzco with your testimony. The Caucus also heard a brief overview of H.126, colloquially known as the “30x30” bill, aiming to conserve 30% of land in Vermont by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This is a lofty goal with an untenable timeline, and I encourage all residents to learn more about this effort. The bill is currently on the wall in House Energy & Environment, and you can follow its progress on their website.
It is an honor to serve your interests. Please reach out to me at [email protected] with your questions.
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5
Legislative Update - 3 Feb 2023 - Week #5
Dear Constituents –
This week at the Statehouse seemed more like a “typical” week – committees have settled into taking testimony, advocates and lobbyists are in the Card Room and the cafeteria, and bills are being debated on the House floor.
On Tuesday, I was present at Governor Scott’s press conference highlighting the PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins) Act. The PACT Act is a federal program that gives all veterans who were deployed in certain regions of the world the ability to sign up on a registry that shows service that could be connected to airborne hazards (i.e. burn pits, Agent Orange): https://veteran.mobilehealth.va.gov/AHBurnPitRegistry/#page/home
I also had the opportunity to meet with various Communications Union District (CUD) members, including our own Northwest Fiberworx, to discuss the progress to bring broadband to the “middle miles” in Franklin County.
We learned in our committee that State Treasurer Mike Pieciak put out a release stating that February 1st was National Unclaimed Property Day. Vermont has $119M in unclaimed property (forgotten bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, unpaid life insurance policies, etc). Last year, Vermonters filed 15,000 claims that yielded $5.3M in payouts with the average claim exceeding $400. To learn more click on [email protected] . We also heard extensive testimony on Sports Wagering, Elections, and the role of Sheriffs in law enforcement; these are all topics that the House and Senate Government Operations Committees anticipate weighing in on this biennium. It is important that we hear from as many witnesses as possible to ensure that we don’t pass legislation with unintended consequences, so I fully expect to spend many hours listening to the various sides of these issues.
House floor action primarily revolved around the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA). As I have explained before, this is typically a bill that doesn’t have much debate because it is intended to be a mid-cycle “true up” of the current budget year that we are in: how much of existing allocations have been spent and what the best use of the remainder would be based on current conditions. This year, however, was a different story! The House Appropriations Committee majority party members (8-4) voted to include an additional $90M for various programs, over and above what we passed for a balanced budget in May of 2022. For the 33 minority members voting, this was something that could not be supported, no matter how many other crucial programs the budget supports.
The Rural Caucus met on Thursday to review the components of the Rural Omnibus bill and the Recreation Omnibus bill that we hope to support and is in the drafting process, as well as updates on several other bills related to the rural economy.
It is an honor to serve as your State Representative. Please reach out any time at [email protected] Stay well, Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5
Legislative Update - 27 Jan 2023 - Week #4
Dear Constituents –
For the first time since arriving in Montpelier earlier this month, I feel like we’ve finally gotten into a routine, and the pace has slowed down enough to catch our collective breath…
The focus of the Legislature is on getting the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA) out of the House Appropriations Committee, so it can pass through the House and on to the Senate. In Vermont, we pass a balanced budget every Spring according to statute, and every January, the Administration proposes adjustments to that budget, based on actual expenditures and funds left in various accounts. It is the job of the Appropriations Committee to sift through those proposals and various requests from outside groups to best utilize the remaining funds. In order to do so, the Committee needs to take input from every committee of jurisdiction whose purview would be affected by those adjustments. My committee, for instance, weighed in on the progress at the Agency of Digital Services on technology upgrades for both the Department of Labor and the Judiciary and the rural administrative capacity initiative to assist towns that I’ve written about previously in this letter. I can assure you that the Appropriations members are working diligently to protect the interests of all Vermonters.
Aside from weighing in on the BAA, my House Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee has spent some time learning about the Offices of the Vermont State Treasurer, the Attorney General, the Agency of Administration’s Racial Equity Office, and the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office. We have also begun a deep dive into the workings of the Cannabis Control Board and the world of Sports Betting, both of which could potentially be sources of revenue for the State. I look forward to learning more and hearing constituent feedback on both of these issues.
The House Floor was very quiet this week, with bills being introduced up to H.124 for the session thus far. I have had a few relevant bills introduced and sent to committees of jurisdiction: H.11 requiring private insurers to cover the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors with no cost-sharing; H.26 a housing and subsistence tax exemption for members of the National Guard on State Active Duty; and H.99 a Tuition Benefit program expansion for the National Guard. I will continue to keep constituents informed about these and other bills that I am following closely. We also had our annual legislative ethics training during a House floor session Thursday.
The VT Rural Caucus met on Thursday morning and summarized the results of member voting for the Rural Omnibus Bill that will be forthcoming and sponsored by many on this special issues Caucus. On Friday, H.124 an act relating to promoting rural economic development capacity, of which I am a co-sponsor, was released to committee. Other bills that I have signed onto in are in the housing and regulatory reform arenas.
I will continue to make connections and offer suggestions across the aisle to help build the best possible legislation for my rural district in an environment where I hold a profound minority political status.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] It is an honor to serve!
Rep Lisa A Hango
Legislative Update - 20 JAN 2023 - Week #3
Dear Constituents –
Rural Vermont is certainly in the spotlight! This week in the Statehouse, the buzz was all about rural capacity and how we can put human capital to work to ensure in an efficient and effective way to make sure the remaining federal funds reach the neediest of communities in a timely manner before the rapidly approaching deadline of Dec 2026. The work of many folks on the VT Rural Caucus and around the Statehouse has yielded a rural administrative capacity bill that should be introduced next week, as well as a comprehensive rural omnibus bill dealing with many issues particular to rural life that is in the works. Through collaborative, tri-partisan efforts, these bills and others like them seek to highlight the plight of many rural towns with respect to overwhelming public safety, infrastructure, and housing needs. All of the bills being introduced have a long road ahead of them as they move through the committee process, but I am encouraged to see so many legislators and advocates willing to work together for the common good of their collective communities.
In committee, several new bills were introduced by their sponsors, including one to return to mailing out general election ballots only to those voters who request them (H.23), sponsored by Rep Larry Labor. The House Government Operations & Military Affairs Committee received a Pensions 101 briefing by the Joint Fiscal Office, a subject area new to several of us, and an introduction to the operations of the Department of Liquor and Lottery and the Agency of Digital Services, new to our committee jurisdiction, the Department of Public Safety, the Vermont Judiciary, and the Cannabis Control Board, all within our purview.
The House Floor was relatively quiet, with the introduction of new bills being referred to committees of jurisdiction, such as H.66 Paid Family Leave, H.68 a housing bill that I signed onto, and H.77 a bill establishing a Physical Therapy Interstate Compact, to name a few. We voted to pass H.48 an update to an act relating to diversion and expungement and H.1 an act relating to legislative oversight for case management for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a reminder, all bills can be entered by number into the legislative bill tracker tool on the Vermont General Assembly website if you are interested in following their progress.
Friday marked the Governor’s Budget Address and continued to highlight the needs that rural communities are facing. Much of what is proposed uses one-time surpluses for seed money to make investments in key economic drivers. You can access the text of the Governor’s speech in multiple media outlets, and I encourage you to read about these investments in roads, water projects, working lands, brownfields, clean energy, health care and dental care stabilization, substance use prevention, mental health services, fair and impartial policing, housing, homelessness prevention, childcare access, trades training, the Vermont State College System, internships, scholarships for critical occupations, and more.
The takeaway for all of us, elected officials and citizens, is what does this budget mean for your family and your town?
It is an honor to represent your interests in the Statehouse. Please reach out to me at [email protected]
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5