This is not about hiking, nor is it about a fiscal cliff, but is
a brief window into the first week of the "leg" of legislative
session. "News from the Leg" would read even more confusingly than
"ledge" which works when you say it.
The first three days in the House Chamber were largely
ceremonious and included official foundational confirmations and
swearing in by oath. Though we were all anxious to get to work on
issues, these are important elements of establishing a unified
working body of government. It was at various moments dutiful,
inspiring and heartening. It is a good way to begin.
Surrounding the ceremonious sessions on the floor were early
caucus sessions that I chose to attend, such as the Vermont
Commission on Women, energy, and house rules. Each day of session,
there are also organizations that present staff and displays to
share information on their work, such as physical therapists, HOPE
(reducing homelessness), Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing, and Vermont Workers Center. Evenings offer various
receptions and the Governor's Open House which replaced the
inaugural ball to instead raise money for ongoing Irene Disaster
The Governor's address puts a strong focus on education as the
foundation to improving our economic future. Initiatives to
strengthen early education as well as math and science curricula in
high schools led the list. He also includes a plan to be sure no
school student goes hungry, so that learning is optimized for all.
Affordable college and career readiness from elementary through
high school also rise to the top.
All of this pleases us, but now the challenge is to accomplish
these changes while dealing with forced compromises of our
education programs due to lower local enrollments and high per
I will push for evaluation of current school funding formulas to
revise them from regressive formulas to progressive ones, which
balance the burden across income levels. I will also be looking to
support economic development, partly through the education
initiatives, but also through areas such as transportation
infrastructure, including rail connections that will benefit
I know that Act 250 is often cited as a deterrent to economic
development, but it is more likely a policy that checks unbridled
development and makes Vermont more resilient in the downturn times.
Despite its successful achievements, the associated permitting
processes can perhaps be streamlined to be more manageable for new
In the area of energy, Rutland is host to an energy innovation
center that should bring a cluster of related initiatives that
support our moving away from fossil fuels. The proposal for wind
development on our western ridges has not been welcomed, and I will
look closely at a proposed moratorium, with a goal of assuring
local control around the state.
For more information visit me on Facebook
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