Image of the state house in springI hope everyone has been staying reasonably cool as we’ve moved through the first heatwave of the year. With warmer, sunnier weather, I’ve seen more and more neighbors spending time outside. The Vermont Health Department continues to recommend social distancing, masks, and other precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. Check out their latest guidance if you’re heading out for an activity.

Essex Junction voters have an important local election coming up on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. This is when we’ll vote on annual meeting business, including the respective budgets and elections for the Village and the Essex Westford School District (EWSD). Under normal circumstances, these votes would’ve taken place in April. Because large gatherings were discouraged by State health guidance, the vote was moved to June 2nd.

Our Town Clerk and members of the Essex Board of Civil Authority worked to prep and mail ballots to support a safe, socially distanced election. All active voters should have received a ballot in their mailbox, along with a pre-stamped return envelope to send the ballot back. If you have yet to mail your completed ballot, you can bring it to the polls to conduct your vote. The Village polling place is located at the High School and will be open from 10:00am – 7:00pm on June 2nd.

Our local vote comes at the same time that the General Assembly considers a bill that would allow the Vermont Secretary of State to hold an all-mail election for the November General Election. Last week, members of the Essex State Rep delegation published a letter in the Essex Reporter supporting this approach. Our full editorial is here. If you have any thoughts or questions about vote-by-mail, please get in touch. I am available at [email protected]

In my last update, I described how COVID-19 disruptions had impacted revenues and our State Budget. The same volatility has impacted the State Education Fund, which is the heart of our statewide education funding system. This winter and spring, school districts, including EWSD, put in tireless work to navigate this challenging environment. I want to thank our local educators, administrators, and school board members who have stepped up during this tough time.

The House took preliminary action today to advance a bill (H.959) to set education tax rates at the levels expected before COVID-19 took hold. This is an important step to provide stability to our local school systems and to protect property taxpayers from COVID-19 impacts. The bill provides an internal borrowing construct to blunt revenue losses, and sets up a process to apply Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds as they become available. I will provide more updates as the bill moves forward in the process.

There is a lot going on as the 2020 legislative session moves into June. To get up to speed on the latest developments, please join us at our next Essex State Rep virtual town hall. We will meet from 9:00 – 10:30am on Saturday, June 6. You can dial in, or join by Zoom. I will post meeting details on my social media accounts as we near the date. Until then, stay connected and let me know if we can be of assistance. Stay well!

Rep. Dylan Giambatista