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Legislative Update -Sept 21-24, 2020

Dear Constituents –

The 2020 Legislative session is complete – the House adjourned at  6:30pm on Friday, September 24 — never before has our General Assembly experienced such a session, and I hope itnever will again.  It is with great gratitude that I thank the Administration, the Legislative staff, and my colleagues for theirextended service to the people of Vermont.

The most important news for the week was the ability of a Committee of Conference to come to an agreement with the Governor’s recommendations for the budget, H.969. By passing this bill, we have accomplished what we needed to do to keep Vermont running for the rest of this fiscal year.

It has been a long, exhausting, unusual, and memorable session, and I am honored to have represented my District. I will continue to attend town and school district meetings as I am able and to be available for comments and concerns at [email protected] and through my website at www.hangoforhouse.com.

Thank you and stay well,

Representative Lisa A Hango, Franklin-5

Richford-Berkshire-Franklin-Highgate

 

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County Courier Q & A - Sept 24, 2020

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

QUESTION: The topic of police funding has become a hot topic nationwide since the high profile killings this year of several blacks throughout the United States. What is your view on the funding model of law enforcement in Vermont, and should Vermont institute additional laws that regulate police in the Green Mountain State?

ANSWER: Act 147, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor in July 2020 was the first step towards addressing potential biases and curtailing potential deadly use of force. The Governor also issued Executive Order No. 03-20 on August 20, 2020,  which presents priorities for Public Safety Reform Initiatives.  These measures cannot be implemented overnight and demand that a thorough review of existing policies and procedures be undertaken and understood. Bills S.119, S.124, and S.24 were taken up, amended, and passed by the House just prior to press time, putting into place the framework for widespread public safely reform initiatives. Many advocates representing people of color and other vulnerable populations are requesting the Legislature to slow down on pushing through more bills pertaining to racial biases and/or changing the scope of law enforcement. We need to take time to heed their warning and to take testimony from a wide variety of witnesses, including law enforcement, before making judgments on further legislation that could be problematic for marginalized populations. We also must take seriously the need to examine the interaction of mental health issues with law enforcement activities. There is clearly much more work to be done, and it should be done in a thoughtful, measured approach going forward. 

Stay well,

Lisa

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Legislative Update - Sept 14-18, 2020

Dear Constituents –

Screen time for the House of Representatives this week has really picked up — Committees are meeting to hear testimony, draft bills, and listen to amendments.  The House and Senate are seeing hours of floor session to debate and pass bills before adjournment (hopefully) next week.  This week’s action included passing S.54 – Tax and Regulation of Cannabis – in concurrence with the Committee of Conference report, and overriding the Governor’s veto of the Global Warming Solutions Act, both of which I have shared concerns about with my constituents in this publication and on my website www.hangoforhouse.com. More screen time for the Franklin Selectboard and the Richford REAC Committee filled two evenings, and a wonderful extended family Zoom session took place on another.

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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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