Week 3 of the 2020 legislative session was busy, with action around the State House, in the Education Committee, and floor debate on major bills. I enjoyed spending time with several Essex Junction residents who visited the State House. If you ever want to visit Montpelier to participate in the legislative process, please get in touch — the entire Essex delegation is always excited to connect with visitors.
In committee, we have begun reviewing how the state’s PreK system is functioning. Several new reports and testimonials have identified areas where our early education delivery model is working well, and other areas where it could be improved. Affordable, high quality PreK is a necessity for most families. I am hopeful we will make progress this session so the system is made more equitable, accessible, and effective for families and their young learners.
The Education Committee also continued its work to understand how literacy instruction is working in Vermont schools. Development of reading and writing comprehension is essential to student success. Some students experience learning disorders, like dyslexia. Testimony has provided examples of specific instructional content and methods that are shown to help students with thrive. This is a topic that has been raised locally. I am grateful for community members who have come forward to share their experiences and expertise.
On Wednesday, I was honored to join the Governor and Senator Lyons as speakers at the Community College of Vermont’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. I am one example of a high school student who faced challenges and was not certain whether I’d ever go to college after dropping out of high school. College did not appear to be in my future. CCV was there for me several years later, when I realized the importance of developing career skills and completed my education. Since its formation, over 150,000 Vermonters have earned degrees from CCV. Community College is a central piece of our education and workforce development systems — I will continue to advocate for more support for CCV as it begins its next 50 years.
The House took up and debated two major bills this week, Paid Family and Medical Leave (H.107) and Minimum Wage (S.23). The Family and Medical Leave passed Thursday by a vote of 89-58. I voted yes. Establishing a Family and Medical Leave program will allow younger Vermonters to take leave after adoption or birth of a newborn. It will also allow folks to take leave to take care of a loved one who faces an untimely health crisis, or is in end-of-life care. The House also approved raising the minimum wage to $12.55 over the next two years by a vote of 93-54. I voted yes. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 and state minimum wage of $10.96 are not adequate for workers on the lower end of the wage scale. When Vermonters have more money in their pockets, they buy goods and services, which supports our local economy.
If you want to discuss the topics above, or any other issues, please join us for our next community conversation meeting. We had a great forum last weekend and we want to hear from you in February too! Join us at Sweet Alchemy (45 Upper Main Street) from 9:00 – 10:30am on February 15th. You can also reach me anytime by emailing email@example.com.
Rep. Dylan Giambatista