On May 30, we in the US traditionally celebrated Decoration Day, (or Memorial Day as we now call it), and I can recall spending time decorating graves in the local cemeteries with my family and scout troops, as well as participating in parades to honor those who served our nation and didn’t return. Although we aren’t able to do as much this year, marking this holiday is no less important. Those veterans who gave their lives in service, and the families they left behind, have my gratitude for fighting for our rights and freedoms.
Finally, Spring appears to have arrived in northern Vermont! Please be safe as you pursue outdoor activities and enjoy the landscape that we call home. In honor of Memorial Day, I want to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country and to their families for their sacrifice; although we are unable to have large, public events this year, those veterans will be foremost in our hearts this weekend.
The week began on a call with Commissioner Harrington of the Department of Labor regarding the latest update on Vermonters receiving UI/PUA/PEUC benefits. Another 2300 non-traditional claims were added to the system this week with the assistance of the Legislative Action Team – thank you to those legislators who gave their time to this important endeavor. As of today, much of the backlog has been resolved thanks to everyone working together.Read more
As I write this, our Internet was down for five hours today – no WiFi for texting or calling on cellphones, no Zoom meetings, and in my case, no voting on the virtual House floor. When the House of Representatives voted to allow ourselves to vote remotely, I had some concerns. One of them was NOT what would happen if I lost internet and couldn’t use my cellphone OR my landline, which is exactly what happened to me today. I chose to not join the voting by landline because I was already using my landline to field calls from constituents on call-waiting while I was on hold with our internet provider, hoping to advocate for all of us who needed to work and attend school virtually. Although I have voiced this new concern to House leadership, I remain unconvinced that this issue will not come up again.Read more
Dear Constituents –
I hope this writing finds you and yours well and safe. May began, as most months do, with attendance at meetings outside of my legislative committee – remotely “attending” the Missisquoi Valley School District, Franklin County Home Health Agency, Northern Mountain Valley Unified Union School District, and Highgate Selectboard meetings this week. Issues of internet access, remote learning for students, safety for healthcare professionals, successes and challenges during this pandemic, cancellations and substitutions for annual events, and road work were topics of discussion. My gratitude goes out to all of you who are adapting to, and reworking what is, the new normal in our lives – there is so much good in humanity to celebrate in this time of crisis!Read more
Dear Constituents –
I hope this update finds you well. We began the week on April 20 with a small number of businesses being allowed to resume and ended with another tiny sector poised to join them on April 27. This gradual opening of the economy will ensure that Vermont is not overwhelmed by sickness and our health care facilities have the capability to care for us. Thank you for your patience and cooperation and please remain vigilant by continuing to social distance, limit your excursions, and wear a cloth mask when you have to be out in public. I am grateful to everyone who is checking on their older neighbors and family members to keep them safe.Read more
Dear Constituents –
Thank you to all of you who are doing your part to flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission. I am honored to represent the non-profits, municipalities, businesses, and individuals who are so creatively serving the public’s needs during the most difficult weeks of this crisis. Hope is on the horizon, as the Governor begins to open up the State for business, slowly but surely. You can find the latest guidance for employers and employees working solo or in small, socially distanced teams at www.accd.vermont.gov. Please join me in supporting all of our local businesses, including farmers markets on May 1, as they transition towards gradual operation again.
Please remain vigilant and safe by visiting www.healthvermont.gov and observing the Vermont Department of Health guidelines to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Additionally, there is a phone line staffed 8am-6pm daily, including weekends, at 802-863-7240 to answer your health-related questions and a new VT Helplink line 802-565-LINK(5465) for substance misuse support. The Department is also encouraging Vermonters who need non-emergency medical attention to call their providers and opt for a teleheath appointment when appropriate. For questions regarding your health insurance, please reach out to the Department of Financial Regulation at [email protected].
www.vermont211.org (2-1-1 by phone) remains the best resource for all other basic needs, such as housing, food insecurity, legal, and mental health services.Read more
Dear Constituents -
Another week of “Stay Home, Stay Safe” and we are busier than ever learning new digital platforms on which to conduct business, virtually attending committee meetings on COVID-19 relief bills, and assisting constituents with concerns around unemployment insurance and small business losses. The State of Vermont website has excellent resources for answers to questions, some of which have been forwarded to you in email blasts or posts on www.charenforhouse.com and Front Porch Forum (thank you to Rep Fegard while my website is under development).
After a House General Committee briefing from the three Congressional delegates’ offices, I have also included a new link from the Dept of Labor regarding Federal CARES Act information for anyone facing the loss of income:Read more
As we Legislators settled into a new routine of phone briefings and remote committee meetings, the House of Representatives was unexpectedly and abruptly summoned back to Montpelier to vote on several Resolutions dealing with our future ability to vote remotely. This was rather shocking, given the Governor’s “stay at home, stay safe” order, but approximately 80 of us arrived and promptly social distanced ourselves from each other, spreading out throughout the Statehouse until voting commenced.Read more
Dear Constituents –
This week, our world is a very different place. Many of us are navigating the challenges of working from home, often with children present, without access to conveniences like our daily coffee run, restaurant meals, gyms, day cares, or full shelves at the grocery store. We are being tasked with learning how to use technology for our everyday work, for religious services, communication, and for ordinary purchasing. It can be frustrating, frightening, and even feel frivolous in the case of ordering online and having it delivered to your door – but it’s what we must do in order to remain well and safe for the folks we interact with who may be at risk for COVID-19 infection. One of the best statements I heard this week was from a Millennial I won’t name who said, “I am not afraid of being sick myself, but I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, and I’m doing my part to stay home, so I don’t get sick or infect someone and take up a hospital bed that would be better used by someone else who needs it more than I do”. This spoke volumes to me, and I hope we all can take this advice to heart and do the right thing by our friends, family, and neighbors.Read more
After the pleasure of meeting with many of you at Town Meetings last week and having a few days of downtime, this week rapidly evolved into a very different week than last. Our concern over the COVID-19 state of emergency is heightened, and many of our efforts have been directed towards addressing those concerns. For the latest information on the Legislature’s response to this crisis, and to avoid duplication, please refer to the update being developed by Rep Fegard and myself on her website https://www.charenforhouse.com/updates.htmlRead more