Legislative Report: The real work for the year has begun



We are starting our fifth week of the legislative session and the pace is starting to pick up. Committees have moved on from the introductory work of bringing the new members up to speed and are now working on incoming bills. The legislative attorneys have been drafting the bills and all legislators have submitted their bills to meet the January 31 deadline—the work has begun! 

This past week, we passed the Budget Adjustment Act (BAA) which contained significant one-time investments to meet the urgent needs of Vermonters. The bill allowed the Legislature to put additional funds the areas of housing, human services, rural infrastructure, agriculture, and other significant needs. For the BAA process, I was pleased to have gathered leaders from the House of Representatives, Senate, and Administration to work on a $3 million program to assist small rural towns that do not have full-time administrators (like Sudbury, Goshen, and Whiting) to apply for and administer grants, as well as to manage projects. We have come up with a strong plan to help small towns access the many state and federal grant programs available to them. These projects will improve each town’s infrastructure by accessing these once-in-a-lifetime funds, help rural communities, and not leave any of the ARPA funds on the table. The BAA is an important step forward in delivering our promises to Vermonters. 

Over the past two weeks, I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about the Vermont State Teacher’s Retirement System’s decreased Cost of Living Allowance of 2.5%. Although there may not be a legislative fix for this issue, the Speaker of the House, State Treasurer, and Chair of the Government Operations Committee are working to find a fair solution to this decrease. Other constituents are concerned about Unemployment Insurance, unexpected rise in health care costs, and unfair housing practices. Retired state employees are concerned about the potential change in their health insurance to Cigna Medicare Advantage program. In addition, I have heard from folks who are also concerned about trapping, energy costs, and funding of religious schools.  I hope that I will continue to be a resource to you and connect you with the people/organization who can help find a solution to the problems. 

In the Commerce Committee, I am continuing to work on Economic and Workforce Development issues and am also looking at the progress made from last session. We are starting to work on bills which examine the Vermont Economic Growth Incentive program, earned wage access businesses, and data privacy issues.  

Each week our Floor Session is started with a Devotional. I have invited Brandon resident Josh Collier to sing for the Devotional on February 15th!  On that same evening at 7:30pm, Barn Opera will be the featured performance for Farmer’s Night! If you are in Montpelier, please come to the Statehouse to be part of this magical evening and a 100-year Vermont tradition.   

My next Constituent Coffee hour will be held on February 18th at 10am at the Brandon Free Public Library. Please stop by! 

Take Care, 

Rep. Stephanie Jerome (Brandon) 

Vice-Chair, House Commerce and Economic Development Committee 

Sjerome@leg.state.vt.us or 802-6838209 

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