By BUTCH SHAW
PITTSFORD — The Legislature has finally settled into a rhythm of daily committee work and scheduled times to meet as a body in the Hall of Representatives. To get to this point, we have been issued our legislative mailboxes, official legislative identification card, and our legislative badges, which allow us access to the State House when it is closed and to the legislative parking lot. We’ve either submitted anew or made changes to our existing legislative biography for use in official publications. These publications can be found on the web site of the legislature at leg.state.vt.us.
Senators and representatives from Rutland County band together as a group to form the Rutland County Legislative Delegation. We meet in the State House on Wednesday mornings at 8 a.m. and during the off session whenever necessary. Our goal, mission, and purpose is to promote Rutland County in the State House and to all corners of the state. We host visitors from the county during our weekly meeting, such as representatives from RAVNA, Neighborhood Works of Western Vermont, Castleton University and Project Vision. We also assist various organizations in the county in raising awareness and money to assist them in their good work.
Among these endeavors is the annual ‘Wheels for Warmth’ tire recycling and used tire sales program. This annual event raises funds for the Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council’s heating assistance program. This year we assisted BROC and its major sponsors in raising over $18,000 for this worthy cause. I am very proud to be a member of this fine tri-partisan group where we put politics aside for the benefit of Rutland County. I am also pleased to announce that I have been re-elected Chairman of the delegation for the fourth biennium by my legislative peers.
Upon receiving the proposed budget from Gov. Phil Scott, the members of the Appropriations Committee, Transportation Committee, and the Institutions Committees returned to their respective committee rooms to find a detailed volume of the budget under their purview. These ‘binders’ are an outline of suggested spending by the administration. After reviewing the Capital Budget, I have found several areas of proposed spending in Rutland County. Among them are proposals for renovations at The Vermont Training Facility in Pittsford and The Asa Bloomer State Office Building in Rutland.
With the assistance of Rep. Dave Potter I have also reviewed the five-year highway-spending plan, otherwise known as ‘The Transportation Book,’ for the Brandon-Pittsford-Sudbury district. The proposed spending for the FY-20 Highway Program in the district is $14.3 million in highway construction, $10.4 million in paving, $15,000 in bridge construction, and $3.68 million in railroad projects.
The five-year plan is $67.95 million in highway construction, $15.5 million for paving, $5.5 million for bridge construction and $7.62 million for rail improvements.
While I do realize these are proposed projects, I’m happy to see our district’s transportation infrastructure issues are in the pipeline to be addressed.
The House passed an important youth protection bill recently. H.47 is an act relating to the taxation of electronic cigarettes and associated products. The tax will be levied at a rate of 92% on the wholesale cost of these products. The bill was created to reduce the use of tobacco substitutes by our vulnerable youth by increasing the costs to match the tax on other tobacco products. The bill passed the House, with my support, on a 134 yes to 6 no roll call vote.If you would like to contact me, I can be reached at the Statehouse, 802-828-2228, at home, 483-2398 or via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.