2019 Town Meeting Report

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Mar 4, 2019 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Washington 7: Duxbury – Fayston – Moretown – Waitsfield – Warren

Town Meeting Report
Maxine Grad & Kari Dolan

Vermont House Representative Maxine GradVermont House Representative Kari Dolan










Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representatives. Our focus is to build a Vermont that works for all of us, and where our families and communities can thrive. Each House member is assigned to one topic committee. Maxine Grad, above left, serves as Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Kari Dolan, above right, is a member on the Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee.

For more information please visit: www.legislature.vermont.gov or contact us: [email protected] or [email protected]

Affordable Childcare: Quality childcare is expensive for most families. They are paying a huge portion of their income for childcare. The House is addressing this challenge by looking at different childcare models that promote quality affordable care.

Housing: The problem of affordable housing varies across the state, but rents are generally high. Buying a home can be out of reach for working Vermonters. The House is working with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Home Finance Agency to make home ownership possible through creative programs that offer low interest loans for first-time home buyers.

Mental Health Care is an Essential Part of Health Care: One of the most pressing problems surrounding mental healthcare in Vermont is the lack of crisis-level, hospital beds. The General Assembly and the Administration are working with hospitals to build more inpatient psychiatric beds. The House Health Care Committee will continue to advocate for investment in community resources to address the mental health issues that do not require hospitalization.

State Budget: Did you know Vermont always keeps its state budget in balance? The House Appropriations Committee is on target to advance its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) shortly after Town Meeting Day Week. The budget will be balanced to meet the needs of Vermonters while keeping ongoing spending in check.

Commerce: The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee is developing bills to address the state’s workforce challenges, with a goal to fill existing jobs, attract new workers, and retain current employees. The House is focusing its work on getting more Vermonters – including the nearly 3,000 high school seniors who graduate annually and adult students — employed in skilled jobs through apprenticeships, certificates and associate degrees.

E-Cigarettes: In December 2018, the Surgeon General declared an epidemic regarding e-cigarette use among teens. Data show a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in just one year’s time (2017-2018). In that same timeframe, middle school use increased by 48%. The House passed (H.47) which places an excise tax on the liquids and delivery devices of e-cigarettes to discourage youth who are the most price-sensitive of all consumers.

High Speed Internet: High-speed broadband internet service is a priority to ensure residents in all corners of our state can access the commerce and resources available on the web. Today, 25% of Vermont households still have slower than adequate internet connections. The House Energy & Technology Committee is developing a broadband connectivity bill that will empower communities to determine the solution most suited to their area.

Breaking Down Racism and Bias in Schools:  The House passed (H.3), a bill to identify structural racism, reduce hatred and bias, and build a culture of equity in Vermont schools.

Review of the Statute of Limitations: Victims of crime deserve to see justice done. For this reason, the House Judiciary Committee is working to extend the statute of limitations for several crimes, including manslaughter, first degree domestic assault, and sexual exploitation of a minor or vulnerable adult. This will help ensure that even if an investigation of a crime takes law enforcement several years to reach a conclusion—or in the cases of the most vulnerable victims, even if knowledge of a crime does not reach law enforcement for years.

Pollinator Protection: In recent years, concern has been raised regarding the health of our pollinators, which include domesticated honeybees, as well as our native pollinators like bumblebees, wasps, butterflies, and a host of other species including birds and bats. One out of every three bites of food is the result of pollination. It is estimated that we have lost 40% of the insect population in recent years and one theory is that it is due to more prolific use of chemical pesticides. The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee is working on a bill (H.205) that would require regulation of the sale and application of neonicotinoid pesticides in order to protect pollinator populations.

The Vermont National Guard: The Vermont General Assembly has the responsibility of electing the Adjutant General and Inspector General of the National Guard. There was a lengthy review process. On February 21st, a joint session of the House and Senate elected Colonel Gregory Knight to this position.

Family and Medical Leave: Working Vermonters should have the security of being able to welcome a new child or care for a sick family member. The House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee advanced a bill (H.107) to create a Family and Medical Leave Insurance program for Vermonters.

Reproductive Rights: Given the politics in Washington DC, there is considerable debate about whether the Supreme Court will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade and leave jurisdiction of reproductive choices entirely up to individual states. On February 21st, the Vermont House overwhelmingly passed a bill (H.57) to preserve and protect a woman’s reproductive rights, rights that have existed in Vermont for 46 years.

Lead Testing in Schools:  The Education Committee is taking up (S.40), a bill that would require all schools and childcare facilities to test their drinking and cooking water for lead. This bill passed out of the Senate by a unanimous vote.

Bias-Motivated Crimes: All Vermonters deserve to live free of harassment and intimidation. The House Judiciary Committee is studying bias-motivated crimes to ensure that Vermonters do not have to fear for their safety or the safety of their families because of others’ prejudice against their race, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, or similar status.

Fair and Impartial Policing: The House Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill that addresses this very important issue.

Farm to School:  The House updated the Farm to School Program, a program initiated in 2007 to improve children’s health, provide opportunities for students to learn about farming and support the local agricultural economy. The program thus far has reached 50,000 children.

Hemp:  The federal government has given a green light to growing of hemp. Much of the commercial interest focuses on CBD (cannabidiol), an oil. While CBD can have small amounts of THC in it, it’s non-psychoactive and is not to be confused with pot.  The stakeholders in the hemp industry—farmers, chemists, processors, retailers, investors—would like to see the product regulated.

Clean Water Funding: Vermont is confronting water pollution of our rivers and lakes. The House is committed to identifying a permanent funding source to address water pollution statewide. These funds will support water quality improvements at farms, help municipalities address wastewater treatment needs and manage stormwater runoff, and restore rivers, floodplains and wetlands to help improve resilience to future flooding.

Act 250 Updates: Act 250, enacted in 1970, focuses on safeguarding Vermont’s working lands – farms and forests – from sprawl, reserving agricultural soils for agriculture, protecting natural resources, promoting energy efficiency, and helping municipalities balance growth with the costs of development. Coming up to its 50-year anniversary, the Legislature established a commission last year to evaluate and provide recommendations to update the Act to achieve environmental protection for the next 50 years. The Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee is reviewing these recommendations as part of the committee bill development process.

Protecting Firefighters and EMT’s: House Judiciary passed H.321. This bill proposes to expand the aggravated murder statute to include the killing of a firefighter or an emergency medical provider. Current law includes only law enforcement officers. The House Judiciary recognizes how all too often firefighters and EMT’s place their lives in danger beyond a fire or medical emergency.

Maxine Grad
Chair of House Committee on Judiciary
PO Box 603. Moretown, VT
[email protected]

Kari Dolan
Member of House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife
PO Box 1443, Waitsfield, VT
(802) 496-5020
[email protected]