MONTPELIER – The Vermont Legislature welcomed the start of the 2019-2020 legislative session on Wednesday with the swearing in of the Statehouse’s largest freshman class in decades, including four new representatives and one new senator from Franklin County.
Franklin County Representatives Casey Toof (R – St. Albans), Charen Fegard (D – Berkshire), James Gregoire (R – Fairfield) and Felisha Leffler (R – Enosburgh) were among the House of Representatives’ roughly 40 new representatives.
In the Vermont Senate, Sen. Corey Parent (R – Franklin), one of only a handful of new senators, was sworn in to fill in the seat previously held by Carolyn Branagan (R – Franklin).
The Democrat-led House of Representatives organized its committees during Wednesday’s session, assigning 13 of its 14 committees’ leadership positions to Democrats. Only one committee, the House Committee on Commerce, will be led by a Republican, Rep. Mike Marcotte (R – Coventry).
Among Franklin County’s representatives, only Barbara Murphy (I – Fairfax) was given a leadership role in one of the committees, taking the vice chair position in the House Committee on Transportation.
Murphy will be joined by Representatives Mike McCarthy (D – St. Albans) and Brian Savage (R – Swanton) on the House’s transportation committee.
Fegard, one of the county’s only two Democratic representatives, was appointed to the House Committee on Agriculture.
Rep. Lynn Dickinson (R – St. Albans Town), previously in the House’s judiciary committee, will return to the House Committee on Commerce.
Leffler, meanwhile, will be taking a seat on the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions.
Toof will be spending his first session in the House on its education committee.
Rep. Marianna Gamache (R – Swanton) will be serving on the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.
Rep. Carl Rosenquist (R – Georgia) will return to the House Committee on Human Services, which he served on during the previous session.
Lt. Governor David Zuckerman announced appointments to the Senate’s standing committees Friday morning on behalf of the Committee on Committees.
Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, will be on the finance and economic development committees, while the county’s freshman senator, Republican Corey Parent, will join the education and natural resources committees.
Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, will remain in charge of appropriations, while the agriculture committee will remain in the hands of Sen. Bobby Starr, D-Essex.
Of the 11 standing committees, just one, institutions will be chaired by a Republican, Joe Benning, of Caledonia.
According to the Associated Press, the current class of incoming freshman is the largest in over a decade. The majority of the legislature’s newcomers were elected as Democrats, contributing to a veto-proof supermajority of Democrats and Progressives.
There are only 43 Republicans in the 150-person House of Representatives and six Republicans in the 30-person Senate.
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