More than Fluff and Dust

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.

Jitter Bug Jam was one of my favorite stories to read when my child was young. The lead character, a wee monster, is scared of the boy living under his bed. He thinks if he looks at him, he’ll turn into “fluff and dust”. I’ve been using this expression a bit too much lately. Fluff and dust. It’s what I say after committee when no matter how I phrase the question, caramel sweet or knife-like precision, I just can’t get a clear answer. It’s how I add lightness to my frustration. You see, I want a government that plans, that looks nationally (or internationally) for best practices, that has an estimate of what results might look like. Not fluff and dust, but monsters and boys building a better world together. Apropos of all this I was proud when the speaker appointed me to the Joint Committee on Government Accountability this week (GAC ).

Beyond fluff and dust we had a delightful devotional (that’s the prayer we start each day with) from Guilford’s own Verandah Porche. While you can listen to the whole piece here, I loved this line in particular:

Our town has spent two years in passionate debate over the Flood and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Ordinance, (nicknamed FFEH!). The science is complicated; the ordinance is imperfect; the dread of regulation and disaster are real. The issue will be settled by Australian ballot at the end of Town Meeting day. Yet we are here, striving to understand, trying to be patient, stepping back from blame. And that feels like victory, like poetry, no matter what the outcome.

Some days I do believe that just the right dose of poetry could save us all, but it must be balanced by process, policy and politics so here we go:

In Committee, we discussed workforce development and the administration’s proposals for economic development. Many employers report incredible struggles with hiring and training and these challenges are only expected to grow as a generation retires. Simultaneously so many of our neighbors remain unemployed or underemployed with stagnant wages in so many fields. The scale of this disconnect is striking from where I sit: there remains much work to do connecting and resourcing the multiple agencies in our communities who serve both job seekers and employers.

Coming Soon The Minimum Wage Bill left the Senate and is headed to the House where the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee will pick it up. At our weekly labor caucus I wondered if the tipped wage might have been included if we had service worker unions in Vermont. I asked because whatever you call it—organizing, lobbyists, advocates— people make issues real. And the issue of tipped wages (and the value of women’s labor) is not real enough in our building yet.

H57, a bill to protect Abortion Rights, left the judiciary committee and will be discussed (argued and voted) on the House Floor this Wednesday and Thursday. You can tune into house proceedings on the VPR livestream anytime you’re interested.

H107, Family Medical Leave Insurance is also headed to the Ways and Means committee and should be up for floor debate soon. As the bill now stands, folks are eligible for 12 weeks of leave to care for themselves or a family member and costs will be split between employee and employer. I’ll share some more details about how this powerful universal bill can support small businesses and families as the final proposal takes shape.

And finally— this week was abundant with media opportunities:

An interview with the national podcast “Millenial Politics” hit the airways with the fantastic title: Women of the Resistance: Emilie Kornheiser. Despite my discomfort with The Resistance“™” language, I couldn’t help but be pleased to be included.

Podcasting with Olga Peter’s Montpelier Happy Hour with an accompanying article in The Commons.

In addition to full length podcasts, we’re collaborating on a special Q and A feature (this week we covered tipped wages in a bonus podcast.) and I need your questions. Write, call, message, just get them to me. No question is too big, small, or strange.

Stay in touch.

Yours in solidarity, Emilie

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