Has it really only been a week since I last wrote? In that time we’ve admitted that children aren’t returning to their school facilities, we’ve closed down non-essential travel and most of us are staying home. Simultaneously, many of us are working harder: as front-line workers, caring for family, and adapting to new systems.
Today the Speaker of the House appointed me to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
The legislature recessed last Friday to work remotely and I can't believe the speed of change since then. While working to develop responsive policy, I’m continuing to gather and share information regarding the impact COVID-19 has on our community. I’m posting daily on facebook and available via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) anytime. There are many many links at the bottom of this message for you to do your own fact finding. This post is extensive with sections on economic challenges, housing, small business, utilities, seniors, access to healthcare, schools and childcare, community response, reliable links, and some poetry. Please feel free to read top to bottom or scroll until you find what meets your needs.
At other periods in American history infrastructure was considered a public good but in the last fifty years or so we've seen a slow turn from these values and towards market solutions.
The Vermont House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in support of S54, an act relating to the regulation of cannabis.
Family Medical Leave Insurance— one of the banner bills for the democrats this biennium— is a hard fought series of compromises.
After breakfast with the kid, and before heading off to work today, I visited a middle school class to talk about climate change.
Happy New Year!
The news was dark this morning, and in the first week of the new year, I must think of it as the darkness before birth. I must look for the light within. This holiday season I revelled in my Hannukah candles, I lit candles at solstice, and Christmas, and New Years Eve, and then last night, I lit candles again. We must light the flames we want to see, right?
The session starts on Tuesday January 7th and we’re all getting ready. Packing bags, organizing calendars, and lining up final details of legislation. There is much anticipation and uncertainty about what will take flight and what bills will be ground down by the wheels of deliberation.
It’s been an incredible “off season”— so many powerful conversations about how to make Vermont work better— to be for us and by us. I’m proud to be returning, with the fire of the season in my belly and each of your stories in my heart to fight for our community.
The legislative session starts back up in four weeks and there is much to do before we return. There are gatherings almost daily as we speak with coalitions and organizations to build a comprehensive story of what is needed. If there is an issue important to you please connect with a conversation, come to my office hours, or send an email. This project of democracy is only as good as each of our contributions.
Welcome back! As we ease our way into fall the energy shifts in our communities and the work of the legislature changes.
I’ve been waiting to update on this until I had definite information, but it’s been too long so I’m going to tell you what I know.
The end of the session is difficult for all of us— constituents and legislators alike—it becomes clear which bills will stay on the wall, whose babies will drown, and the endless compromises seemingly necessary to bring everyone on board.
Did you know that one of my colleagues wants to end Day Light Savings Time?
Montpelier has a delightful tradition of a Valentine bandit who leaves hearts everywhere, and the touch of whimsy was just what I needed this last week.
A dear friend of mine came to testify in Commerce and Economic Development this week. She shared the following quotes and definitions:
Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. A day devoted to service, and this letter to you is my service for the day. I’ve been having feelings about not participating in the same way— how I can’t be at every march and on every action team. I missed the Women’s March and Homeless Awareness Day with my community. In these first days of the session I’ve grappled with a new form of service— slower, more detail-oriented, but still very collaborative. I’m more mindful of the slow arc of history and how the building blocks of today’s work can fit into the liberation of tomorrow.
Every day in the legislature I’m asking myself what I’m doing to carry forward the legacy of those who have fought before me. This could be drafting or supporting sweeping legislation for anti-bias police work or educational reform (the ethnic studies bill). But, at this point in the session the path to liberation is in the details: it means asking about data that our agencies collect (or don’t), ensuring that we do our own internal work, and making sure that my own strong voice is always, every day, making space for more voices from the margins.
In committee we’ve begun to lay the groundwork for a year of progress. Economic development means more than corporate tax incentives and subsidized electricity rates. In fact, tax incentives rarely make a dent and we want policy that works— and works for all of us. What does work? Strategies that improve communities and support small businesses: affordable childcare, communication and transportation infrastructure, a well educated workforce, and a regulatory environment that is both supportive and transparent. Here’s a great report from State Auditor, Doug Hoffer- [Making Economic Development Policy: Anecdote or Peer Reviewed Literature](https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/WorkGroups/House%20Commerce/Auditor/W~Doug%20Hoffer~Economic%20Development%20Policy~1-15-2019.pdf)
Over the past week we heard testimony from throughout state government on issues ranging from employment rates to captivate insurance regulations to meat-processing facilities. Perhaps absurdly, I find all three of these topics fascinating. We have one more week of ground-work and then will start discussing a bill to ban non-compete clauses. If you (or someone you know) has been impacted by a contract provision on non-compete clauses, please be in touch.
In the midst of national conversations the happenings of the Vermont Statehouse are a model of tri-partisan leadership these days. . . Perhaps because we haven’t really started discussing legislation. . . Or perhaps it’s the government shutdown. Thanks to a combination of good luck and our incredible treasurer Beth Pierce, most Vermonters will see little impact. However, Vermont’s Department for Children and Families (DCF) will be issuing February 3SquaresVT benefits early, on January 20th. These benefits will be for the entire month of February. If you aren’t sure if this applies to you, call the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151 to speak to a benefits specialist. AND if you are a federal government employee currently not being paid, please apply for unemployment benefits with the Department of Labor.
In addition to being in touch about legislation, I’m available for “constituent service,” helping you correct any issues you have with the delivery of government service like healthcare and food stamps (just don’t ask me about parking tickets unless you think you can help me). Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I truly want a government that works for all of us.
In solidarity and hope,
We’re figuring this out, we’re making change, and we’re coming together!
We're really doing it: we're Committing to Community! More than 57,000 people have already voted in Vermont. Our town clerk ran out of stickers. There are free desserts all over town! This is the year. Right?
We did it! You did it. We did this together: the campaign team, more than 50 volunteers, more than 150 donors, and the entire West Brattleboro community. According to unofficial results, I am the Democratic nominee for Vermont House of Representatives in Windham 2-1.
It may be wet out, but it's a beautiful day for democracy!
Polls are open at the Municipal Center (230 Main Street) until 7pm.
If you know someone who needs transportation to vote, have them call or text Chad Simmons at 802-451-8627 to arrange a ride. (Rides will be available until 6pm.)
The primary is tomorrow—Tuesday the 14th—and I’m filled with such incredible gratitude for the team we’ve put together.
We need to have the courage to listen deeply, to go into the community, sit on doorsteps, and say “What matters to you?” That’s what it’s going to take for Vermont government to be the participatory democracy that we say it is.
It’s going to take each of us stripping away our righteousness and walking towards each other, with questions, with coalitions, and with excitement for this new future.
Our healthcare system is broken. I think we can all agree on that. People are suffering, dying, and going bankrupt because they can’t afford the care they need. This has to stop.
Election day is nearly here, and I hope you and your friends have been getting to the polls! To mark the last weeks of primary season, we're screening a new important documentary about voter suppression: Capturing the Flag, a film by Anne DeMare. Join us Wednesday, August 1 at 7pm in the Hooker Dunham Theatre at 132 Main St. Refreshments will be served!
The way I see it, good policy is built of three threads: what researchers can tell us (evidence-based practices), what people who implement policy can tell us (professional experience), and what communities can tell us (lived experience). I’ve built a career on listening, on making spaces for people to speak, and on finding strategies at the intersection of these three threads.
Emilie, her family, and campaign volunteers marched in the Brattleboro Goes Fourth parade, today. Some of our signs included "Work for Democracy" and "Everyone Help - Help Everyone."
Housing in Vermont has been at crisis levels for many years now. Brattleboro has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, and our wages don't come close to the more than $20 per hour needed for market rate housing.
Is your yard feeling left out of the political excitement this primary season?!? Fear not, our lawn signs are here!
Celebrate the First Day of Voting this primary season!
Vote at the Town Clerk's office, then stroll on up Main Street and join us on the Common for food, music, and fun.
Emilie will be MC'ing the Community Vision Stage at Tiny House Fest this weekend!
Meet Jennifer Jacobs, who helps organize our campaign volunteers. Jen is a small business owner with deep roots in our community. She says:
Proud to announce my first endorsement, from Vermont State Employees' Association (VSEA). Unions are the bedrock and lifeline for workers' rights in this country, and around the world. I couldn’t be more proud to be endorsed by this union, and I look forward to working every day in the legislature to support our public sector.
So many amazing folks are helping with the work of this campaign! Let me introduce you to Joyce Sullivan, a key member of our Events Team:
Follow this link to order!
Over the next few weeks, I want to introduce you to some of the amazing folks who are working on this campaign with me. Meet Sierra Dickey, our Campaign Coordinator.
Join Emilie and the campaign team for a glorious weekend in Brattleboro!
Here's where to find us:
On Tuesday, Emilie filed her petition to run for State Representative for Brattleboro District 1. Though only 50 signatures are required, Emilie's petition had more than 200.
Here is the full announcement:
Chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, and community! The barbecue takes place yearly on Western Avenue in the West Brattleboro village center. 11 am - 2 pm, but come early because they always sell out.
Sometimes it helps to speak the language of the people in power, or at least the people you are speaking to, so let’s make the case for an increased minimum wage and paid family leave using Governor Scott’s own words and logic:
Join Emilie and the campaign team at Camp for a Common Cause 2018!
Happy Mother’s Day! I’m running for office because I’m a mother. But not simply because I want to make the world a better place for my son—I think he’ll do that quite well himself....
I was proud of my state these last few weeks, as student activists made their voices heard, and our legislature listened: quickly passing a series of new measures to increase the safety of our gun culture. When we talk about guns in Vermont we often get into the same conversation about “here and away” or “the way things were.” Sometimes we enter the national dialogue and start talking about “rights.” These are all perfect frames to unpack and ask ourselves questions like “whose history?” and “whose rights”? What did the Abenaki think of those guns? Do we hear the stories of mothers whose sons and fathers shot themselves, or the thousands and thousand of women who have been threatened—“kept in line” by guns throughout Vermont history?
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