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County Courier -Sept 17, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a weekly candidates’ Q & A. 
Here is this week’s question and my response:

 

QUESTION: The Legislature passed H. 688 last week, better known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, but the Governor has indicated that he could veto the bill. If the bill does not make it to law, would you support it in the next biennium if elected?

ANSWER: I do not support the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Governor has vetoed it for the lack of “solutions” and sent it back to the Legislature. Lawmakers must examine their collective conscience when voting to sustain or override this veto. For those voting to override: are you doing so to advance the progressive agenda? Or is this something that you passionately believe is a real solution?  This bill requires Vermont to meet stringent, perhaps unattainable goals for reducing carbon emissions and opens the State to potentially time-consuming, frivolous citizen lawsuits if we do not meet those targets.  I’ve heard it said that this isn’t a problem because “no one will receive monetary awards”; that says nothing about wasted time and fees in courts and mandates that hand over control to an unelected board, rather than the Legislature, where this control should be in the hands of those whom you’ve elected to represent your interests. Climate change mitigation needs a thoughtful, creative approach that involves all Vermonters, and I do not see this bill as a result of that kind of collaborative effort. I am honored to serve, and I am committed to represent the voices of my constituents.

Stay well,

Lisa

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Legislative Update -Sept 7-11, 2020

Dear Constituents –

The virtual Statehouse is heating up – Committees are meeting multiple times a day, bills are passing, amendments are being drafted, and money is flowing out the door, for better or worse.  Some highlights of this week’s action include:

 

Representatives Laura Sibilia -Dover, Matt Birong – Vergennes, and I announced the formation of a Vermont National Guard Caucus which will convene on Sept 15 and meet monthly to discuss how the Legislature, on behalf of our constituents, can support the VT Army and Air National Guard during their upcoming deployments.  We are excited to come together as a politically, geographically, and gender-diverse group in support of troops throughout the State (and neighboring states) performing myriad duties to protect and serve Vermonters and Americans. Our goal is to be a liaison between the Administration, the Committee of Jurisdiction (House General), Legislators and their constituents, and the National Guard leadership.

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County Courier Q & A - Sept 10, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a candidates’ Q & A on relevant issues. 
Here is this week’s question and my response:

QUESTION: The legislature is considering legalizing the commercial cannabis market, and if it isn't completed this biennium, it is likely to be taken up after the election. If elected, would you support a commercial cannabis market, and how would you like to see it rolled out? If you wouldn't support a commercial cannabis market, why not? 

ANSWER: I do not support a commercial cannabis market. The most compelling reasoning I have heard in support for this is as a source of increased revenue, but this argument is not persuasive enough for me to support. The facts remain that public safety, youth risk behaviors, and personal health conditions will all be impacted adversely, and no amount of money can undo the harm that will be done by establishing a legal market for what is still an addictive and (federally) illegal substance. More revenue than would be generated would be expended for increased law enforcement/judicial personnel, commerce/banking systems, and physical/mental health treatments related to standing up a market for the sale and use of cannabis. This is a not a winning argument for tax and regulate. 
It is an honor to serve, and I welcome your comments at www.hangoforhouse.com

Stay well,
Lisa
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Legislative Update- Aug 25-Sept 4, 2020

Dear Constituents –

On August 25, the Legislature reconvened via Zoom, all sessions of which are “open to the public” by viewing livestream or recordings on YouTube.  With that, Committee meetings have also resumed.  In House General, our work is focused on S.237, a bill that is described as an “affordable housing” bill, which is actually a zoning bill, having several problematic provisions that are better suited to the discussion around Act 250 Reform legislation. Several municipalities and planning organizations have testified to these issues being detrimental to the local zoning process, so we are working diligently to remove or change the most egregious section, against the tide of majority support for this bill.

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County Courier Q & A - September 3, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a candidates’ Q & A forum on relevant issues. 
Here is this week’s question and my response:

QUESTION: Healthcare costs have increased drastically faster than the cost of inflation in the past decade. This increase is a significant factor in the increase of Education spending in Vermont, with health care increasing for some districts at least 10% in a budget year, which becomes a double whammy for citizens in the Green Mountain State. If Elected, what would you do to reduce healthcare costs for Vermonters.

 

ANSWER:

Healthcare costs to all Vermonters and Americans across the country have indeed experienced steep increases; no one has been insulated from this. Healthcare costs for educators are no longer much different than in many other industries, and that contract is now negotiated on a statewide level for all teachers, just as other State employees are, so there isn’t the option for local control of that portion of the budget. This helps to spread out spikes in cost over a broader number of individual “insured lives” and taxpayers, but the fact remains that it is prohibitively expensive. I don’t know anyone whose healthcare premiums have not gone up at least 10% in the last year and are forecasted to rise as much again, so this remains a pressing issue nationwide for everyone. Consolidation of healthcare entities and a lack of competition in the insurance market, as well as a rise in pharmaceutical prices due to the extensive, lengthy development that highly specialized therapies involve, all are contributing factors to these increases. I would like to see more innovative, out of the box thinking on methods of insuring populations and delivering healthcare. Although Vermont is at the forefront of this movement, we lack adequate population without the “insured lives” numbers of the Vermont State Employees cohort to significantly move the needle on costs. I am encouraged to see greater utilization of lower-cost healthcare providers such as Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Athletic Trainers, and Dental Assistants, who perform less complex procedures and who triage cases for more costly, specialized providers. Most importantly, I hope that the general population will do more to adopt healthy lifestyles and address medical issues before they become crises; we all can do our part to keep costs down by being proactive with our health rather than having to be reactive in a crisis situation. As a forming member of RISE-VT, I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about living a healthy lifestyle to connect with this organization at risevt.org. I would also challenge my legislative colleagues on the Commerce, Education, and Healthcare Committees in both chambers to take a long look at how policies crafted in years past may or may not be working in today’s economically challenged post-COVID world. I look forward to working on these issues in the upcoming session. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. 
Stay well!
Lisa 
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County Courier Q & A - August 27, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a candidates’ Q & A on relevant issues. 
Here is this week’s question and my response:

QUESTION: If elected, what is one bill that you would like to champion in the next biennium? How do you foresee getting this passed?

 

A. During this biennium, I diligently followed several pieces of legislation from start to finish, particularly those that constituents asked me to help advance or those that I took an interest in from my own experiences. These include issues such as eliminating income tax on military pensions, increasing enforcement of penalties for texting and driving in work zones, and broadening tech ed offerings at the high school level. I co-sponsored several of those bills, also including ones requiring Athletic Trainers to work at certain high-risk high school sports events, advocating for high school graduates to be able to pass a civics exam, and banning flavored substances in vaping products. The process of sponsoring and following a bill to passage is fascinating and sometimes long and frustrating, but when it does become law, is very rewarding. 
My hope for the 2020-21 session is to continue to pass legislation to help Vermonters and businesses with economic recovery and development. Prior to COVID-19, Vermont suffered from a declining industrial base and workforce to fill those jobs, and the current pandemic has compounded that. Educating students for the future remains an important priority for me; right-sizing course offerings for educational institutions is the key to providing tools for individuals and businesses to grow and thrive in our State. When those educational and employment opportunities exist, we will be able to retain and employ our workforce. In addition, passing legislation to make our State affordable for those businesses and employees is essential. There is no one particular piece of legislation that I intend to sponsor, but a multitude of bills across several committees of jurisdiction are being discussed, and I will continue to work collaboratively with those legislators to craft legislation for the greatest benefit to all Vermonters. I welcome comments from constituents on your areas of concern so I will

Stay well,

Lisa 

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Late Summer Legislative Update 2020

Dear Constituents-

After a seven-week break to catch up with constituent needs and obligations at home, the Legislature resumed its unprecedented, unusual session with budget hearings on Aug 17.  Many of our committees held joint hearings with Appropriations on areas of jurisdiction pertaining to that portion of the budget; for instance, my General Housing and Military Affairs Committee was briefed on National Guard tuition funds needed for the upcoming year. We also received reports on the use of Coronavirus Relief Funds towards alleviating homelessness to read at our leisure prior to the official start of the session on Aug 25.

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County Courier Q & A - August 20, 2020

The County Courier newspaper of Enosburg Falls VT is sponsoring a weekly candidate’s Q & A on relevant topics.

Here is this week’s question and my response:

Q: Unless there is an unprecedented federal bailout, the State of Vermont is looking at a deficit of about $300 million due to the pandemic. How would you like to see the legislature close the budget gap, and should Vermont run a deficit for 2021 (as the Federal Government has for years) in order to get through the response process of the coronavirus and get to better times?

A. The Administration’s budget was unveiled today, and It was confirmed that the deficit is at $180 million, rather than the expected $300 million, greatly helped by strong tax revenues from 2019 earnings and targeted belt-tightening and reallocation of funds across State government. It is heartening to say that this was done without major cuts to important programs for Vermonters in need, and some new programs will be implemented using the remainder of CARES Act funds and one-time monies. Those programs include more equitable stimulus money for previously ineligible recipients, a much-needed increase in childcare programs as parents return to the workforce, expanded aid to businesses hit by economic hardship, and a continuation of additional unemployment benefits. My gratitude goes to the Administration for their  hard work keeping Vermont’s economy stabilized while attending to the needs of the most vulnerable populations without plunging the State into greater debt. As we move forward, every Legislative committee must take a hard look at the programs and services that they mandate and weigh the true benefits with the costs of maintaining them. At best, certain duplicative or obsolete programming must be eliminated and every program must undergo scrutiny and re-design to become the most efficient it can be for the price tag. I look forward to being a part of this difficult yet rewarding work as the fallout is projected to continue into FY’22 and ‘23, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting the framework of the Governor’s budget. 

 

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County Courier Q & A - August 13, 2020

The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a weekly candidates’ Q & A in relevant issues.

Here is this week’s question and my response. 

Q: It seems that politics have become more and more divisive in recent years. If elected, what would you do to ensure that you will represent all of your constituents, not just those who align themselves with your party, and how would you work across party lines to ensure your constituents have the best representation possible.

 

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County Courier Q & A - August 6, 2020

The County Courier newspaper in Enosburg Falls VT is running a Candidates’ Forum

Q & A series. Here is this week’s question and my response:

 

Q: Given that Vermont is on track to be the state to best contain the coronavirus in the nation, do you agree with the response by the legislature thus far? Would you like to have seen a different response thus far? How would you like to see the legislature proceed in responding to the virus in the next biennium? 

 

A. 

I will start by thanking my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration for their tireless efforts to ensure the safety of all Vermonters and for the work that we are doing collaboratively to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. 
My hope when the Governor announced his Economic Relief Package on May 15 was that we could expediently disburse Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to the Vermonters who needed it most. I didn’t anticipate that it would be another six, slow, frustrating weeks before the details would be hammered out and the bills passed that would put money into the accounts of those businesses and entities suffering great financial losses. I remain disappointed with the majority party leadership‘s decision to hold back funds for potential future use in hopes of a change in directive from the Federal government - these funds were available for immediate use, and should have been used as such, particularly for our agriculture sector, which eventually saw a 40% cut from the Governor’s recommendation for relief. 
Going forward into the next biennium, it will be crucial for us to work cooperatively to delve into economic recovery measures that address the roots of economic instability, as well as the impact of on-going COVID-19 restrictions. Much can be accomplished in the realm of workforce development and education, creating jobs and a workforce that has the education and skills necessary to bring manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and service industries into the 21st century and beyond. I look forward to that challenge and welcome comments and concerns, which can be directed to me through my website www.hangoforhouse.com
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