The fifth week of the 2020 legislative session concluded Friday. We have been busy in and out of committees this year, with a good deal of time spent debating bills on the floor of the House. This was true of this past week. A range of topics were taken up by the House.

One of the major debates occurred Wednesday, when the House considered whether to overturn the Governor’s veto of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill (H.107). In Vermont, the executive branch has the right to veto a bill as a check on the power of the legislature. Likewise, the House and Senate have the power to override a veto with a two-thirds majority vote. The last time the legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto was a decade ago. Ultimately, the final vote Wednesday was 99-51, which failed to attain the necessary 100 votes to overturn the veto. H.107 will now go back to the drawing board. I supported this initiative and am disappointed many Vermonters won’t be able to access paid leave.

The House also took up several of other bills. One (S.108) was a bill to address employee misclassification issues and the role of the Department of Labor and Attorney General in enforcing classification. Another, (H.619) was passed to clarify that campaign funds can be used for permissible child care costs, should a candidate need to access child care for their child. These are just two of the dozens of bills that are expected to pass the House  before the end of the session. Not all issues end up in the headlines, but these initiatives are the product of hours of development and careful vetting in their respective policy committees.

In addition to work at the State House, we have a couple of community events coming up this week. On Monday, February 10, Speaker Mitzi Johnson will be speaking at Art Hound (21 Essex Way) at 6:00pm. This is a great chance to hear from one of the leaders of the Vermont legislature. I hope to see you there. From 6:00-9:00pm on Wednesday, February 12, Voices for Inclusion in Essex and Westford (VIEW) are hosting a viewing of the film The Hate U Give in the Essex High School auditorium. The event will conclude with a community dialogue about how to address racism.

We’re also nearing our February Community Conversation meeting. Come join the Essex and Westford Reps as we gather to discuss issues with neighbors. We will meet on Saturday, February 15 from 9:00-10:30am at Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe (45 Upper Main Street). Your input is critical as we enter the busy months of February. Come let us know where you stand on the issues!

Rep. Dylan Giambatista