First Day of the 2018 Session
Today the 2018 legislative session was gaveled back to order at 10:00am. Vermont’s legislative biennium runs over a two year period. The second half of the biennium usually lasts 16-18 weeks, depending on how quickly the Governor and Legislative leaders reach consensus to pass a balanced budget.
I am excited to return to Montpelier as one of the Village of Essex Junction’s two State Representatives. It is an honor to serve our community. Throughout 2017, I worked closely with Representative Houghton to hold regular forums in the community. We heard from neighbors at ten forums held at different times during the day. We look forward to continuing monthly community conversation meetings starting on January 15, 2018. Our January meeting will be held at 6:30pm at the Essex Community Senior Center next to the Village offices. We hope you will join.
Your feedback is critically important as the Vermont General Assembly works through complex issues. Federal uncertainty remains a challenge. Additionally, a range of policies have yet to be addressed. In the Education Committee, on which I serve, the committee hit the ground running on day one to begin a deep dive to improve the state’s universal PreK law. The current program is administered by two State agencies, which has caused confusion and led to difficulties implementing the law. The Agency of Education and Agency of Human Services have provided a report recommending a series of changes to increase Vermont families’ access to PreK and early care options. I expect the report’s recommendations will be developed in greater detail in the days and weeks ahead.
In addition to PreK, The cost of delivering education will be a major focus of our work. This year, the Ways and Means Committee will be leading proposals to address the manner in which we fund education. Ways and Means’s focus comes as the committee urgently reviews the federal tax changes signed into law by the President in December. With great uncertainty remaining, I expect a package of reforms will advance that will give Vermonters some relief. It is my hope that the Ways and Means Committee and Administration work together to put in place real solutions.
The Education Committee will look at a range of workforce development options. I spent time off session investigating opportunities for coding and other technical education offerings in Vermont schools. I am excited to work with my colleagues and the Administration to give students additional opportunities to learn in the classroom. I have also spent time working with the Vermont National Guard to advance legislation to provide additional tuition funding for members of the Guard who wish to pursue postsecondary education. We need to do a better job of providing Vermonters options to obtain education and training to continue their careers. I am optimistic that will make progress on these initiatives in the months ahead.
There are a number of other topics that will come before the General Assembly this year. I look forward to hearing from Essex Junction neighbors as we continue our work. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-734-8841.
I look forward to seeing you around Essex Junction!