The first few weeks of a legislative biennium get off to a relatively slow start, not momentous at all. Bills are just beginning to be introduced and assigned to committees for consideration.
As the world reacted in shock to the events unfolding in Washington, D.C. on January 6, the Vermont Legislature was convening for the 2021–2022 biennium.
The Tax Commissioner’s projection of a 9% increase in property taxes last week was predictably a shock considering the economic climate we are currently in. In fact, it would be shocking even in a good year.
When the Legislature convened on Jan. 7 this year, no one thought we would still be meeting in September. We finally adjourned Friday, Sept. 25, after the longest legislative session in Vermont’s history. The coronavirus pandemic constituted a major disruption in the lives of everyone on the planet and is still doing so.
The Legislature moved closer to final adjournment last week with the passage by the House of the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget. Since all money bills, both taxation and spending, must originate in the House, the next step is for the Senate to weigh in.
The Vermont Legislature returned virtually to Montpelier last week to complete the work of developing a budget for the last three quarters of fiscal year 2021. While this is our primary objective, we are not ignoring other important issues that require our attention. The pandemic continues to require making adjustments, and there are a number of issues that can’t be shunted aside while we wait for a return to “normal.”
Ever since Vermont received $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) as a result of the federal CARES Act, Governor Scott and the Legislature have been trying to decide how to allocate those funds to relieve the economic distress caused by the “stay home, stay safe” response to the virus. More than $90M was used almost immediately to help unemployed Vermonters and small businesses.
Our United States Constitution guarantees American citizens many rights, most notably those contained in the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights. The right of every eligible citizen to vote is fundamental to our democracy and ensures that our other rights are protected by holding government accountable.
We are now two months into the societal shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it honestly feels much longer. It seems hard to remember when we nonchalantly shook hands, greeted others with hugs and pats on the back, and could see the faces of folks we encountered in a grocery store.
The daffodils and hyacinths are finally blooming in the yard, the ground isn’t quite as soggy as it was last week, and May is upon us. Ironically, unemployment is at depression-level highs around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been more than a month since Town Meeting, and oh, what a month! In past years I published the results of the Legislative Survey, which 140 Charlotters filled out this year, within a week or two of the meeting.
The unofficial slogan of the U.S. Marine Corps is “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” When faced with the unexpected, the success of a mission requires the ability to change tactics quickly.
The ubiquitous news regarding the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to pervade our consciousness. The Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Emergency Management, and the various health care providers around the state continue to take steps to monitor the situation and adopt a coordinated response.
The week before Town Meeting was intense as the legislature spent long hours debating, amending, and passing two major bills: the regulation and taxation of legal cannabis and revisions to Act 250.
Expectations that the Legislature would take significant steps to address the climate change crisis this year have been high. Over the last 12 months Vermonters have joined people all over the world in climate demonstrations demanding that governments do something about climate change.
Rep. Mike Yantachka Last May the 2019 legislative session ended with a sense of frustration that we couldn’t get…
Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Vermont at 43 percent of total emissions. Our neighboring states are facing the same problem. So, in 2018 Vermont joined with 12 other eastern states, from Maine to Virginia, and the District of Columbia to design a regional program called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to reduce GHG emissions from transportation.
The Vermont Legislature convened in Montpelier this week for the second half of the biennium, i.e., the two-year legislative term between elections. Legislative work did not stop when the session adjourned in May.
The legislative session went into overtime last week with expectations that we would be able to not only finish a number of must-pass legislation, like the budget and revenue bills, the transportation bill and the clean water funding bill, but also two bills that were on the high priority list for Democrats: paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage.
All members of the Vermont House of Representatives meet at least once a day as a body during the legislative session to consider the bills on the day’s calendar. These floor sessions begin with an invocation delivered most of the time by a member of the clergy.