A dear friend of mine came to testify in Commerce and Economic Development this week. She shared the following quotes and definitions:
"Economic development is defined as an increase in a country's wealth AND standard of living."
"Economic development is a policy intervention endeavor with aims of improving the economic AND social well-being of people."
"We want to make the safety net a mile marker in the journey, not the destination" -Clarence Carter (Trump appointee to HHS)
"The social justice movement of the 21st Century is economic development." -Wendell Pierce
I chose this committee because I want everyone in our community to have a chance to thrive-- because I know that people are poor when they don’t have enough money, just as people are homeless because they don’t have a home. We heard testimony from the community action agencies, housing advocates and realtors, and state agencies. Over just these few weeks of the session we’ve heard a recurring story of a workforce shortage-- many businesses are struggling to hire employees-- yet I know that so many of y’all aren’t making enough to make it work. This cognitive dissonance found some respite when we wrapped up the week in a joint hearing with the committee on Agriculture learning about Hemp-- specifically therapeutic CBD. They’re having some challenges with banking/credit, shipping, and processing, but what isn’t a challenge is hiring-- every position from farm hand to packing pays more than $15 an hour with benefits.
The Governor’s Budget Address on Wednesday was an inflection point in the session-- state agencies are now free to share their plans (and pains) for the year. While the devil is very much in the details, the governor struck a conciliatory tone, and seems willing to think about revenue in a more creative way than in years past. Read more here.
We introduced H57: An Act Relating to Preserving the Right to Abortion. The press conference was incredibly moving with Brattleboro’s own Leslie Sullivan Sachs sharing compelling personal testimony. Access to reproductive care is not just an issue of justice or personal freedom but of equity and economics. The bill looks to codify what has been existing practice in Vermont for decades. Read more, and please join us for a public hearing on Wednesday at 4:30. More details here.
Universal Family Medical Leave Insurance was also introduced in the house and a $15 minimum wage in the senate, as well as more than one hundred other bills. You can track any bill once introduced. Check it out.
What will it take for us to have a democracy that we all feel a stake in?
Conversations in your community: As promised, your Brattleboro State Representatives, Mollie Burke, Emilie Kornheiser, (Tristan Toleno is recovering from a recent surgery and will join us next month) gathered at The Works for a community conversation on Saturday. We discussed Act 46, Climate Change, Family Medical Leave, and more. Please join our next conversation on March 3rd, 2019 at 4pm. Childcare available upon request. This is the second in our series of monthly conversations— scheduled for the first Saturday of the month and rotating between 10am and 4pm. You can find me in the coop cafe for office hours every Saturday at 11am, feel free to stop by for a minute of the full hour.
Announcing a new podcast!! Montpelier Happy Hour, launching on Friday February 8th at 5pm. Olga Peters and I discuss the week in the statehouse, our economy, and how it will all shake out for our town-- stay tuned! Any questions you want us to tackle? And as always: firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-246-1213, and the socials below (fb, insta, twitter). In solidarity and hope, Emilie