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Legislative Update - Feb 5, 2021

Dear Constituents –
On the House floor, bill introductions continue at a steady pace for a total of 204 thus far. A few bills have been voted out, but by far the most action this week on the floor belonged to H.R.7, a Resolution dealing with the Governor’s Executive Order 01-21, which was meant to re-organize the Department of Public Safety and was issued on Jan 14. Floor debate centered on the speed with which this Resolution was drafted in response to the Executive Order (action wasn’t required until April 14) and a concerning lack of due process by the Committee in not calling in certain witnesses to testify. The will of the Committee was upheld, and those of us who voted against their response will wait to see if they make good on their intention to address these issues through the Legislative process.
In the House General Committee, we continue to pour over the language in H.81, an act relating to making various changes to the process for statewide collective bargaining for public school employee health benefits. More markup will be on next week’s agenda. On other subjects, we heard from Washington County Mental Health and Housing First advocates, as well as a Pediatrician from Boston Medical Center and Vermont Legal Aid on the concepts of “Housing as Health” and “Housing as a Vaccine”, stressing the importance of a safe home as a preventative for many chronic health conditions. We also heard from the Economic Services Division of the Department of Children and Families and the Director of Public Safety in Barre City on the challenges of housing large numbers of formerly homeless individuals and families in motels during this pandemic. In addition, we received an introduction to the Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard, Major General Greg Knight, whose organization we work with very closely in our Committee.
Special Caucus meetings that I attended this week were all very interesting and informative: The Older Vermonters Caucus had Health Commissioner Dr Levine in to discuss vaccine rollout in Vermont; The Rural Economic Development Working Group discussed the Better Places Grant and Working Lands Enterprise Funds Grant Programs; The Tourism Caucus heard presentations from the Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing and the Commissioner of Taxes on a tourism marketing proposal that is in House Commerce and Economic Development Committee; and The Women’s Caucus invited me in to present them with the press release announcing that the Vermont National Guard Cavalry is the first such unit in the United States, and in history, to be eligible to recruit women in combat roles. I would also like to give a shout out to the amazing folks at the Vermont Mentoring Program/Watershed Mentoring who hosted a meeting for Legislators to better understand the important work they are doing supporting youth ages 5-18 in our communities. If you have ever had a desire to make a difference in the life of a child, please consider volunteering for this organization – they currently have around 20 unplaced youth, and they will be looking to partner them with adults in the community once the restrictions of the pandemic have eased.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. Please contact me at [email protected] or www.hangoforhouse.com with questions or comments.
Stay well,
Rep Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

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Legislative Update- January 29, 2021

Dear Constituents –
The week began with the Governor’s Budget Address, and we were pleased to note that it included a specific allocation to the Franklin County State Airport in Highgate for the proposed expansion, which includes an extension of the water and sewer lines from MVUHS to the airport property. This is good news for the economic health of our County, and it is something that we have worked hard to promote.
Aside from voting on the Budget Adjustment Act, H.138, which amends the current fiscal year budget at approximately the half-way mark to reflect new information on revenues and expenses, the House Floor has been fairly quiet, and most of our work has been in our legislative Committees.
House General began the week in a joint hearing with House Human Services for an update on the Coronavirus Relief Funds expended and future needs projected by the Agency. We heard a similar presentation the next day from the Department of Housing and Community Development, including the Governor’s proposal for funding more affordable housing by using one-time monies earned through the expanded coffers of the Property Transfer Tax and existing programs that would be funded through the FY’22 budget process. The emphasis is being placed on home ownership for first-time, low-income, and BIPOC buyers, as well as a rehabilitation program that focuses on blighted and/or vacant rental properties that are currently not on the market because of code violations and health and safety issues. The bulk of the past couple of weeks, and it appears next week as well, will be devoted to sorting out the differences between two bills (H.81 and H.63) affecting collective bargaining for public school employees’ healthcare benefits that were negotiated on a Statewide basis for the first time in the last round of contracts. We in House General seem to be on a trend, as we also have been asked to take up H.55, a bill relating to requiring that the Vermont prevailing wage be paid to all construction workers who are employed on a school construction project.
My week ended with a workshop on Education Finance given by the Joint Fiscal Office, and a training by the Legislative IT Department, two hard-working entities within the Legislative system that we could not do our work without.
It is an honor to represent you in the Legislature. Please do not hesitate to contact me via my website www.hangoforhouse.com or [email protected]
Stay well,
Representative Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

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Legislative Update - Jan 22, 2021

Dear Constituents –

Week 2, and we are back in the rhythm of House floor and Committee meetings, at least as we know it on Zoom.  Although we heard assurances from Leadership prior to the session beginning that we would be focusing on COVID relief and response, with an emphasis on economic recovery, I have yet to see evidence of its prioritization.

In the House General Committee, we are taking up bills where we left off last March, re-introducing legislation pertaining to a Homeless Bill of Rights, public school employee bargaining, and establishing criteria for a Livable Wage. We briefly discussed recommendations to the Budget Adjustment Act, but there was little in that Act that we were called upon to offer comment. We also heard testimony from the Vermont Veterans Home, unique to other states in that it is a State agency, the union that supports the VVH employees, the Vermont Veterans Agency, the Commissioner of Finance regarding the Property Transfer Tax and how it is used (or not) to fund the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Joint Fiscal Office on the Basic Needs Budget (a flawed and outdated formula), and the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and the Director of the Unemployment Insurance Department.  As our name suggests, we really are the General Committee!

On the virtual House floor, another 28 bills were introduced, bringing us to 114 thus far – subjects are far ranging, as often Legislators have particular issues that they would like to see raised or constituents who have requested that bills be submitted. Each bill is introduced by number and title (and sometimes just number) and is referred to a Committee where it is put on the virtual wall to wait until the Chair decides to take it up.  At that time, the Committee will get an introduction by the bill’s sponsor.  The next step is a walk-through by the attorney who drafted the bill. The Chair, sometimes with the Committee’s input, decides when to call in witnesses to testify (if ever) and who those witnesses will be. Testimony could take weeks or months, and bills may be put aside in favor of other priorities.  Many of the bills I will speak of in this column may never get voted out of Committee and will stay on the wall.  This biennium, as a Caucus Co-chair, I have focused on submitting bills that are priorities for our National Guard soldiers and airmen and our Veterans, as outlined by the Legislative National Guard Caucus and participating military liaisons. I’ll go into detail on them at another time, but the subjects include exemption of military retirement pay from income taxes (there are different versions of this legislation that I’m co-sponsoring), exemption of military housing and subsistence allowances from income taxes, a modernization of antiquated National Guard statutes, a military student loan repayment program, a bill outlining the minimum qualifications for the Adjutant General of the National Guard (currently there are none), an exemption for military veterans’ disability pensions from property tax calculations, and a bill aligning Guard State Active Duty Service with the Federal USERRA employment protection act. Only a couple of these bills have been introduced as of this writing, but they all will come to my Committee for consideration.

This was a busy week for Caucuses: at the National Guard Caucus meeting, we received a refresher on the procedure for election of the Adjutant General (we are the only state in the nation that still elects this officer) and employment protections under the USERRA; at the Rural Economic Development Working Group meeting, we heard about the highly successful Working Lands Enterprise Program that assists agricultural and forest producers and processors with funding and technical expertise for diversification and adding value to raw materials; and at the Tourism Caucus meeting, we listened to a presentation on the use of CRF money to promote to tourists that Vermont is open for business and how to visit here safely. I find the work of these caucuses important to the work of the Legislature, as they are a non-partisan group of legislators who come together to take a position on issues that are important to them and their constituents.

I look forward to hearing from you with your comments and concerns.  You may reach me through my website  www.hangoforhouse.com or at [email protected]

Thank you for the opportunity to serve and stay well,

Rep Lisa Hango, Franklin-5

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Legislative Update - Jan 15, 2021

Dear Constituents

The first full week back in session was truly full — typically, Legislators use Mondays to attend to constituent issues, bills we are working on that are unrelated to bills assigned to our Committees, and local meetings.  This week, Monday seemed particularly busy! Because of using remote platforms like Zoom, Advocacy groups no longer have to schedule to meet with us while we are at the Statehouse, so they can arrange meetings at any time during the week, and Monday was a day scheduledwith meetings on banking, municipal governance, child development, and food insecurity.

On the House floor, bills are being introduced and committed to the Committees of jurisdiction, several of which have been referred to my Committee, the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee.  The scope of our work is such that we currently have possession of bills that deal with collective bargaining for public school employee health benefits, whistleblower protection for law enforcement, basic needs and livable wage, and National Guard employment protections, among other legislation that is being introduced on a daily basis.Some of these bills will remain on the wall, while others are given Committee time, and they can be found on the webpage for each Committee on the General Assembly website. All members also took part in mandatory training on Sexual Harassment in the workplace.

In Committee, we are hearing testimony on the response to COVID-19 from various housing agencies, hearing bill introductions, receiving general housekeeping updates on the use of our website and iPads, being introduced to the attorneys who serve our Committee, and discussing the writing and introducing of legislation.  We also had a briefing from the National Guard on the deployment of Vermont soldiers to Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration and from Senator Leahy’s office on the latest round of federal Coronavirus relief funding.

I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Vermont Commission on Women one evening, and I greatly appreciatedhearing the data that was presented on how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting women in Vermont, which I learned more about the next day in a joint Committee hearing with the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Joint Fiscal Office. The focus of that meeting spotlighted Vermont having the highest unemploymentclaims for women in the US and the lack of childcarereinforcing those numbers, both crucial issues that face Vermont families.  

It is an honor to be back in the virtual Statehouse to serve the needs of my district with Rep Paul Martin.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] or Paul at [email protected]

Stay well,

Rep Lisa Hango

Franklin-5 Richford-Berkshire-Franklin-Highgate

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Response to J.R.H.1 - Jan 11,2020

For those who have been following the media on Resolution J.R.H.1, I was asked to explain why I would not support it, and rather than letting someone else tell my story, I choose to tell it myself:

 I did not co-sign the Resolution; it is not necessary to be a co-signer if one supports a Resolution or a bill, and I chose not to in this case. Also, if one did not sign onto this Resolution, it also doesn’t mean that one implicitly supports or doesn’t support the actions or words of the President. As I stated in Caucus, I could not support the accusatory, inflammatory language of the Resolution as it was written. I hoped for the time to work through the language to make it less reactionary and more accurate, as the facts become more widely known, but that was not forthcoming. An important Resolution such as this, crafted and voted on within one day of an event at the Nation’s Capitol that I condemn for its unnecessary violence, on Day 2 of the Vermont Legislative session, is not to be taken lightly or at face value. Rushing this through the Vermont House and Senate without proper investigation at a national level, without giving us at the State level time to process the information as it is coming to us, only serves to further divide Vermonters when we need to be working together on the very important business of getting Vermont back in business. 
 
I was elected to serve the needs of my constituents, like those who have reached out to me this week asking (for instance) when they will be able to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, when they can expect their unemployment benefits, and when they are going to get their internet connection fixed. I was elected not to legislate national politics, but to assist my neighbors in Franklin-5 and throughout Vermont in accessing their daily needs. I have a history of collaboration with all parties, and I take pride in being able to work across the aisle to achieve these common goals, asking the tough questions and getting the answers that Vermonters deserve. There will never be unanimous agreement on all issues, but a multi-party system ensures that these discussions best serve the needs of all of the people. 
 
I have faith that, with my fellow Legislators, we will find a way past this crisis to do the work we in the Legislature were elected to do, which is to put the pandemic behind us through vaccination and the current health and safety measures and to propel the Vermont economy into post-COVID-19 recovery. 

Thank you for that honor. 
Stay well,
Lisa
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Legislative Update -Jan 8, 2021

Dear Constituents

With virtual swearing-in ceremonies on January 6, the 2021 Legislative Session has begun! We will be working remotelyfrom our home offices until at least March 9, so you will be able to keep track of your Legislators by following all House and Senate proceedings live-streamed or recorded on YouTube and seeing us at online local meetings.

These first few days involved new members being seated, oaths being taken, and Committees being assigned – I will be continuing my work on the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, as requested, which fits well with my responsibilities co-chairing the National Guard Legislative Caucus. It was nice to learn about our new Committee members, including Fairfax Rep Barbara Murphy, before we dove into this week’s testimony.  We received updates from the Department of Children and Families, the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont State Housing Authority, and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency detailing their use of the Coronavirus Relief Funds money that we allocated to those agencies for housing needs. It was indeed encouraging to hear how many households were served during the past six months and how quickly those funds were deployed.  Certainly our Agency of Human Resources and its Community Partners deserve to be commended for the effort they undertook during this pandemic to ensure that the most vulnerable Vermonters were safely housed.

At district school board meetings this week, budget talks were the topic of the evening, as school directors grappled with the difficult decisions involved with keeping tax rate increases at a minimum while maintaining important programming for students who have even greater needs during this time of remote and hybrid learning.  

The Rural Legislative Working Group Caucus met and discussed legislative priorities specifically for rural communities around increasing access to broadband. As many of you know, this is a priority for me, having watched households struggle with access when learning and work went remote last year.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your comments and concerns at [email protected] .

Stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

Richford-Berkshire-Franklin-Highgate

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Season’s Greetings 2020

Dear Constituents –

 

I would like to take this opportunity to share Season’s Greetings with you all! However you will be celebrating this year, may it be a time of hope, joy and peace.  My New Year’s resolution is simple – to help Vermont and Franklin County remain the place we want to live and do business in, and I will work to the best of my ability to meet that goal.

I wish you and yours all the best for 2021 – good health, community connections, and to be able to put the COVID-19 crisis behind us.

Please reach out to me at [email protected] with any questions, concerns, or comments you may have.  It is a privilege and an honor to serve you.

 

Happy Holidays and Stay well,

Rep Lisa Hango

Franklin-5

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Election Thank You 2020

Dear Constituents –

It with heartfelt gratitude that I have been elected to represent Franklin-5 in the Vermont Legislature. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to work for the best interests of my District, along with Paul Martin, in the Statehouse. Thank you to everyone who provided me with support – kind words, financial donations, displaying a lawn sign – your assistance made the difference! I look forward to serving another term. Please contact me at [email protected] or through my website www.hangoforhouse.com with your concerns or comments.

Stay well,

Rep Lisa Hango

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Election Day 2020

Dear Constituents –

The countdown is on! Tomorrow is Election Day 2020!

I hope I have seen you this past week as I’ve traveled around the District doing sign waves at various, busy intersections. It has been an honor to serve as your Representative, and I’m asking for your vote at the polls so I can continue to bring your voice to the Statehouse.

If you have already voted, thank you for fulfilling your civic duty as an American; if you have not, there is still time – bring your ballot to your Town Clerk today or vote in person on Tuesday, November 3.  A ballot not voted is a voice unheard, and Montpelier needs to hear your voices! Always feel welcome to reach out to me at [email protected] or www.hangoforhouse.com – I always listen and try my best to do the research and vote accordingly.

ALSO - if you are graciously displaying my lawn signs, I will be around Wednesday to pick them up, as statutes dictate - THANK YOU!


Thank you in advance for returning me to the Statehouse!

Stay well,

Rep Lisa Hango

Franklin-5

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County Courier Q & A - Oct 29, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a candidates’ Q & A forum. 
Here is this week’s question and myQUESTION: If elected, most of the bills that you will likely work on will not be polarizing, but every biennium there are polarizing bills that are impossible to satisfy all your constituents with a singular vote. How do you expect to approach bills that are polarizing to your constituents?

ANSWER: During the 18 months that I have been in the Legislature, I’ve worked diligently to cultivate civil relationships with all of my colleagues. I enjoy interacting with people, and I find it interesting getting to know folks from all over the State and hearing the stories of what brought them to Montpelier. Although many of us are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, there isn’t another Legislator that I haven’t found some common ground with  - children’s activities, where we grew up, concern for our older parents - and those connections go a long way towards tempering the rhetoric when the discussion gets contentious so we can interact with each in a respectful manner. Going forward, I plan to build on those relationships to formulate compromises where there are similar goals and polite debate where there are divided opinions. There are some issues that have absolute “sides”, and there will never be agreement - on those issues, I will stand my ground and vote according to my constituents’ wishes as they align with my own beliefs. This is where your voice is heard loudly and clearly - please contact me at [email protected] with any concerns that you have about upcoming legislation. I read and acknowledge all correspondence and listen to the wishes of my constituents.  If I am elected, it will be because a majority of you support my voting record and would like to see me continue to work towards common solutions for all Vermonters.  For a better idea of my values and beliefs, please visit my website www.hangoforhouse.com. It is truly an honor to represent my constituents in the Statehouse. 

Stay well,

Lisa 

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