Another legislsaive week is done, and I continue to be distressed at the speed and intensity at which certain important legislation is passing.

On Tuesday, the House concurred with the Senate on Proposition 2, to remove any reference to enslaved or indentured persons of any age from the Vermont Constitution. A Proposition to change the wording of the Constitution has a long road over a number of years, but this was the first step in the process to ensure that freedom in Vermont remains as it has been for all persons.

Later that afternoon, the Governor gave his Budget Address, outlining various initiatives for the betterment of life in our state, including money allocated for suicide and mental health prevention, small business development, energy conservation, healthcare reform (with additional funds to attract and retain nurses to alleviate a severe shortage that we are facing), upgrading transportation infrastructure, childcare assistance for working families, apprenticeships to bolster our tight workforce, and funding the state employees’ retirement fund shortage.

H.107, Paid Family Leave, as proposed by a Committee of Conference compromise, passed in the House by a much narrower margin than majority leadership hoped for, and it is poised for a veto override vote if the Governor indeed vetoes it as expected; S.23, the bill to increase the Minimum Wage, followed a similar path on Friday’s House floor.

My House General Committee heard testimony directing the President of the United States not to launch a nuclear first strike, we heard from a national labor union director beseeching us to allow for a more relaxed union organization process for Vermont workers, and we discussed obsolete and irrelevant wage and hour law clarifications as we work to update decades-old language in statute around overtime pay, employees with disabilities, and the advent of electronic wage payment.

We heard from the State Treasurer Beth Pearce who presented her Report on Housing; as she did last year, she cautioned against issuing another Housing bond because of her concerns around Vermont’s recent bond rating downgrades, and instead advocated fully funding the Vermont Housing and Convservation Board and VHEIP programs that already exist and have been underfunded of late.

In the Tourism Caucus, we discussed strategies to alleviate $310 million in lost tourism-related revenues with the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, which was actually a respite from dealing with other pressing legislation.

Another Caucus that I hope to attend is the Rural Economic Development Caucus, of particular concern to me. Both of these efforts align with my goals of working for the interests of my constituents in northern Franklin County.

I welcome your comments and concerns at lhango@leg.state.vt.us

Thank you for your support,

Representative Lisa Hango

Highgate-Franklin-Berkshire-Richford

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