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Today I joined a convincing majority of my Democratic colleagues in voting to pass H.107, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill, on a vote of 89-58.

The bill guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid parental or bonding leave and up to 8 weeks of paid family care leave. The bill also allows Vermonters to opt-in to a personal medical leave policy for up to 6 weeks. 

I have supported Paid Family Leave from the get-go and wholeheartedly agree with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, who said after the bills passage: 

“The strong support from both chambers in the legislature shows what a priority this is for communities across the state. Passing this bill into law will make Vermont the eighth state to implement a paid family and medical leave program and is a critical piece in recruiting and retaining a workforce in Vermont. So many Vermont families stay here and so many new residents make Vermont their home because we offer a strong quality of life and strong supports for our families. A paid family and medical leave policy will make Vermont the best place to live, work, raise a family, and grow a business.”

The bill now heads to Governor Scott.

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Governor Scott, will veto this bill so as to save hundreds of small businesses, something the legislators have no interest in unless they get a to tax them more!

Drives the little business out, you all don't see that?

Thank you, Representative!

Yesterday morning, I attended a very useful presentation on Act 250 by Peter Walke, Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC). These two experts were discussing the outlines of a draft Act 250 compromise bill that was hammered out over the summer between the Scott administration and environmental advocates.

This compromise plan was delivered to the legislature on the first day of the 2020 session. The bill is now with the House Natural Resources Committee and moving through the legislative process.

As many folks know, Act 250 was written 50 years ago and it's time for an update that will streamline and simplify the process and promote smart growth and economic development while protecting our environment.

Key bullet points include:

Designated downtowns and neighborhood development areas will be exempt

Greater ability to prevent forest fragmentation, more clarity on ridgeline development

Factoring climate change and resiliency into the equation

And a shift in how permits are handled by eliminating district commissions. According to my notes, Walke estimates that 80 percent of permits would still be handled at the local level by two district coordinators, who would also then serve on an enhanced statewide board — consulting on projects from their geographic region — for major project reviews.

These two articles from VT Digger give a good overview of the proposed changes, and detailed questions can be sent to Sec. Walke at the ANR.

https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/…

https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/…
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Yesterday morning, I attended a very useful presentation on Act 250 by Peter Walke, Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC). These two experts were discussing the outlines of a draft Act 250 compromise bill that was hammered out over the summer between the Scott administration and environmental advocates. 

This compromise plan was delivered to the legislature on the first day of the 2020 session. The bill is now with the House Natural Resources Committee and moving through the legislative process. 

As many folks know, Act 250 was written 50 years ago and its time for an update that will streamline and simplify the process and promote smart growth and economic development while protecting our environment.

Key bullet points include:

Designated downtowns and neighborhood development areas will be exempt

Greater ability to prevent forest fragmentation, more clarity on ridgeline development

Factoring climate change and resiliency into the equation

And a shift in how permits are handled by eliminating district commissions. According to my notes, Walke estimates that 80 percent of permits would still be handled at the local level by two district coordinators, who would also then serve on an enhanced statewide board — consulting on projects from their geographic region — for major project reviews. 

These two articles from VT Digger give a good overview of the proposed changes, and detailed questions can be sent to  Sec. Walke at the ANR. 

https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/08/scott-environmental-group-propose-eliminating-regional-act-250-commissions/

https://vtdigger.org/2020/01/20/brian-shupe-maintaining-citizen-access-to-act-250/
Today the House voted 145-0 to pass Prop 2, a constitutional amendment that clarifies our states prohibition on slavery. By deleting archaic and conflicting language, its now crystal clear that slavery is prohibited in the Green Mountain State regardless of your age or indebtedness. It was moving to hear my colleagues Kevin B. Christie and Hal Colston testify on behalf of this vote. As with all constitutional amendments, the measure will need to be approved again by the legislature in the next biennium before going to voters for final consideration.Image attachment
Hot off the press: My latest newsletter from Montpelier, with updates on education, tourism, broadband and climate action. Plus pix, links and even a video. Check it out!

https://mailchi.mp/01be225b5740/constituent-survey-4753385?e=[UNIQID]

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Looks good. I'll send you a message.

Click on the link — and watch a quick video — for a weekly update from the Climate Solutions Caucus. Our banner bills are moving forward, and were working to ensure that every committee in the House and Senate takes a look at climate action in 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0YM_se-XX0

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Go, Bennington County!

This is FANTASTIC! Thanks to all who represented 🙌🏼

Excellent! Thank you!

Nice smiles guys!

Thank you!

Yes. Do it!

Nice pic

Thanks Kathleen James!

Berta!!

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Office hours tomorrow (Saturday) from 8 to 9:30 am at Chauncey’s in Arlington. Join me to hear about the first week of the session, ask questions or discuss any bills. Plus, the worlds best homemade raisin toast.
Just attended the first 2020 weekly meeting of the Rural Economic Development Working Group, a broad group of legislators all focused on supporting jobs and growth in our small towns and rural communities. Earlier this fall, the caucus took a two-day bus tour of small businesses across Southern Vermont, and also held a hearing at the statehouse. Rep. Lucy Rogers created this cool word cloud that illustrates common themes, ideas and challenges from those events. 

Southern Vermont is well-represented in this group, including Representative Sara Coffey, Randall Szott, Laura Sibilia for VT, Kelly MacLaury Pajala, John M. Gannon, David Durfee, Charlie Kimbell and more. A good group, and Ill be posting during the session about our progress and ideas.