Happy New Year!
The legislative session begins on January 6th and I will be sworn in remotely from the same spot in my house that I’ve been sitting since we came home on March 13th, 2020.
I’m glad we made the decision to continue remotely for the sake of our community’s health and the health of all the incredible people who work to support the legislative process. Unfortunately it also means that our work will be slower, less collaborative, and good compromise might often be hard to reach.
The renewed transparency makes it almost worth the awkwardness: you have more opportunities to follow our work without driving up the highway! You can watch any committee hearings or floor sessions via youtube (here) and testifying is easier. If there is an issue that you’re knowledgeable about— either because of your life experience or your work— please let me know. I also know that figuring out what’s happening in the legislature is a full time job and you probably have some other things to do. To keep you updated:
- I’ll be hosting weekly conversations again starting this Saturday;
- Unpacking legislation with Olga Peters on the Montpelier Happy Hour each Friday; and
- Sending out regular newsletters as well as updating my social media feeds.
Please let me know if there is a topic of particular interest to you and I’ll do my best to keep you informed.
In the two months since the election, I’ve prepared for the session with my colleagues by attending community meetings and legislative briefings. I’ve read countless reports and collaborated with stakeholders to get legislation ready. The impacts of the pandemic are heart breaking and far reaching but I’m hopeful that we can emerge wiser and more resilient. The profound cracks in our system were revealed to more people this year, and I'm hopeful they can be addressed in some meaningful, systemic, and permanent ways.
COVID response and recovery is front and center of everything we do right now. I'm working on bills to expand opportunities and stability for working people through access to childcare, family medical leave, reliable schedules, and labor protections. I'm committing to expand our safety net and make government work for our community with revisions to unemployment insurance law, substance use treatment, housing, and child protection systems. On Wednesday we’ll get our committee assignments and begin signing on to co-sponsor legislation. I’ll be sure to keep you apprised and hope that you’ll be in touch with any questions or ideas.
And please keep in mind, I’m still available for help navigating any services (or lack) with you: unemployment insurance, housing challenges, health care. I know that it’s really hard right now, and I’m humbled to be right here in it with all of you.