Yesterday was an incredible day to serve.
We passed Proposition 5– The Reproductive Liberty Amendment which will head to the voters for a state-wide vote of affirmation in November. This is likely the most important vote I’ll make in my service as a legislator. My life, my service, and the steady love I feel for those around me, wouldn’t be possible without the reproductive freedoms I’ve experienced in my lifetime and those opportunities are becoming increasingly scarce in this county. Reproductive liberty— the ability to parent, or not, is foundational to Vermonters’ ability to participate— in our communities, the economy, and to care and build our families.
This is also an opportunity for direct democracy— changing the constitution is a weighty issue, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to hear directly from voters to affirm our community’s commitment to reproductive liberty. You can read more about it here and sign up here if you want to get involved in organizing for the November ballot vote.
AND, as if that wasn’t enough– I had the incredible honor of reporting our newly created Vermont Child Tax Credit– returning 1200 per family per child during the early years when families need it most. It was a tough floor fight but I was heartened thinking of those first years as a parent, and all of you that I know have gone through those years too. There is an incredible body of research emerging about how the stress that a family experiences in the early years impacts kids development but I don’t need that research– I can just remember thinking about bills while trying to play with blocks, cooking dinner while someone cried on my back– how just a little bit of space from the churn or the money made the biggest of differences. As I said in my closing remarks:
As many folks have said before me— our budgets and our tax code are reflections of our values— and we are communicating clearly and unequivocally here that Vermont cares about kids and families— that this is a place where you can make it work.
Yesterday happened to be the Whitehouse’s National Day of Action for the Child Tax Credit, and I’m so heartened that we took this step. I want Vermonters to make it work and our tax policy to enable that. You can read the VtDigger article here.
On The Floor:
We’re in the full thrum of the legislative session now, last week the House passed H. 461, legislation ensuring that Vermonters who temporarily open their homes to refugees and asylum seekers will not face higher education tax bills if their guests enter the workforce. I supported this bill in the Ways & Means Committee and was glad to see it approved unanimously.
H. 367: an act allowing cemeteries to change how they use perpetual care funds.
H. 489, a bill that ensures health insurance laws are following the guidelines of the No Surprises act. This is a small but mighty step forward in reforming our healthcare system.
H. 701 enacted fees for the cannabis market and takes us one step closer to opening our market this spring. I was glad to have folks from Brattleboro testify as we created a fee structure that prioritizes and values small growers, and small businesses.
H. 320 ensures that claimants are still able to work for their employer following the settlement of a discrimination claim.
More Opportunities to Participate:
*Weekly office hours, Sundays at 4pm. You can register here— come for an hour or just pop in with a quick question.
*The next Community Conversation will focus on our collective sense of safety— we will talk about criminal justice, mental health supports, economic realities— and the role of state government. You can register here.
*The Montpelier Happy Hour continues in 2022. You can listen to WDEV at 2pm on Fridays, subscribe wherever you find podcasts or catch back episodes on our website. This last week we talked about about the new Child Tax Credit and on Friday we’ll air an episode about Pensions.
*Testing: the federal govt launched mail order tests and mine arrived last week! You can still sign up here.
*There is still significant funding to help pay the bills: mortgages, rent, utilities, internet, and heat. Even if you don’t have back bills yet, please be in touch with SEVCA to learn if you’re eligible. Or reach out to me with any questions.
*Boosters are now approved for ages 12+! Did you get your booster yet? Vaccine access is super confusing, difficult to navigate, yet widely available. Vaccines and boosters are available from most primary care providers, through Walgreens, through the DoH portal, through pop-ups at the VFW and Rescue Inc., and the hospital vaccine clinics accept walk-ins.
*Want to find all the Covid resources in one spot? Check it out? What’s missing, what should we add?
PS: I included a photo and a quote from the incredible scholar and activist Arundhati Roy last week and forgot to credit her. Roy has been a guide star to me as I have navigated the pandemic and I'm sorry for the omission.
I hope you take good care, celebrate the wins, and enjoy the shimmer of the ice on the trees.