BY REP. STEPHANIE JEROME
It is hard to believe that we have already returned to work in the VT Legislature. I continue to serve on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee as Ranking Member – part of its leadership team. This session, my work in the Commerce Committee will be largely focused on workforce development. Vermont is in dire need of more workers in all fields and at all levels of experience, skill and expertise.I am hopeful that we can make positive change and get more Vermonters working! In addition to my work on the House Commerce Committee, I serve as the vice-chair of the Tourism Caucus, and as a member of the Rural Economic Development Working Group, Women’s Caucus, Climate Solutions Caucus, Social Equity Caucus and Rutland County Caucus. I am also a legislative appointee to the University of Vermont Board of Trustees.
Let me give you a quick update of what is happening so far in the Vermont House:
The Legislature returned to work on January 4th, but because COVID was at record levels, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 13, a resolution to work remotely until 1/18/22. The decision was supported by leaders of all parties with the goal of protecting public health during the Omicron surge.
During this legislative session, I look forward to working with my colleagues to boost Vermont’s economic recovery from the COVID -19 pandemic. Much of our work will be focused on the following areas:
- Investing Vermont’s remaining federal ARPA funds and building a budget that will boost recovery in all 14 counties
- Tackling the complex challenges of housing, childcare and workforce development
- Enacting strategies to combat climate change
- Addressing the unfunded pension liability so that it is fair to teachers, state employees and taxpayers
- Passing Prop 2 (amendment to the VT Constitution to clarify the prohibition of slavery and indentured servitude) and Prop 5 (amendment to the VT Constitution to guarantee personal reproductive liberty). If passed by the legislature, these measures must be approved by voters on the statewide ballot in November.
- Protecting public health during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through evidence-driven strategies, sound data and the advice of medical experts
- Advancing racial and social equity as a goal in every policy area
- Plus, reapportionment; education finance and the weighting study; rural broadband buildout; and increasing access to healthcare, mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.
State of the State:
Last week the Vermont legislature gathered for a joint assembly, via Zoom, for the 2022 State of the State address by Governor Phil Scott. Like the Governor, the legislature is committed to making significant progress on the challenges of workforce, housing and childcare. These are shared priorities that help families, businesses and our economy thrive. Building on the work we accomplished in 2021, we’re ready to work on detailed proposals, and make investments — that make a real difference for Vermonters.
The legislature passed S.172 in the first week of the session. Local election officials can now move forward in planning for 2022 Town Meetings with allowances for the ongoing pandemic. With COVID surging again, the health and safety of voters and municipal staff is a top priority. This bill gives towns the flexibility to choose what works best for them: hold Town Meeting as usual; move the date later into the spring; or hold informational meetings online, and then vote by Australian ballot. The bill is heading to Gov. Scott for signing.
Throughout the 2022 session, floor action and committee meetings will be available for viewing on the General Assembly website. https://legislature.vermont.gov/house/streaming/ The legislature is more available to Vermonters than ever before.
My contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-6838209. I will continue to make myself available to constituents through meetings in our three towns throughout the legislative session. Do all you can to stay healthy during this difficult time! I’m proud to serve Brandon, Pittsford and Sudbury in the Vermont House of Representatives.