I hope that everyone is doing well and enjoying the ever-changing Vermont spring weather. I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for a needed cold spell for our friends in the sugaring industry. With Covid-19 lingering, it has been yet another year with little to no sugarhouse visitations which here in our neck of the woods is almost a rite of passage into spring. I did manage to visit a friend’s sugarhouse last week to check out his new rig and ensure that the syrup was up to my standards. It was so good that I had seconds but resisted a third with all my might. 

In the House we passed H433 the Transportation bill, H439 the State Budget, H437 the State Revenue bill as well as H 438 Capital Spending bill. We also passed H. 436 An act relating to miscellaneous changes to Vermont’s tax laws. In the Human Services Committee, we have been working on H265 which would establish an Office of Child Advocate to support children and families in their dealings with DCF. We should finalize our work on that this week, and I will give an overview in my next update.

Many of us have concerns over the use of American Rescue Plan Act money in the budget without having heard solid, or in many cases any, guidance from the federal government, we supported the budget overall. Significant investment into water quality, the state college system, pensions, childcare, and broadband expansion are most notable. As with many of my colleagues I supported all these bills except 436 which adds a surcharge on property transfer tax on properties over $1 million. This includes commercial and agricultural properties on top of residential properties. I have a few concerns here: Higher income earners are more mobile and don’t need to stay where their costs are higher, when a business sees increased costs, it is passed on to consumers who are typically middle and lower wage earners, and agriculture already has a tough landscape to navigate and struggles to make ends meet. 

It is my honor to serve the people of Bakersfield, Fairfield, and Fletcher as your state representative. I will continue to listen to all voices with an open mind. Please contact me at jgregoire@leg.state.vt.us with any questions or concerns. 

James Gregoire

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