In late September the legislature wrapped up an extraordinary session. Normally we finish in mid-May, but the pandemic meant we needed time to react, stimulate the economy, and help families cope with the COVID emergency. Here’s a snapshot of our work.
We directed $1.25 billion in COVID-relief aimed at helping small businesses, sole proprietors, health facilities, farmers, front-line workers, childcare providers, unemployed workers, higher education, municipalities, food shelves, broadband build-out and more.
Beyond reacting to COVID-19, we guaranteed women the right to an abortion, boosted the minimum wage to $12.55, passed gun safety measures, dedicated clean water funding from existing revenues, boosted base pay for mental health workers, and protected consumers from predatory standard-form contracts.
We passed a range of criminal justice reforms including progressive changes to how the state handles youth offenders, automatic expungement for low-level marijuana possession records, and established a safe recreational marketplace for adult use cannabis.
We pushed hard for police reforms, including diverting resources to have more mental health workers at law enforcement agencies, banning choke-holds and other excessive use of force tactics and barring these from police trainings. We also mandated body cameras, race data collection, and put citizens in the drivers seat of the training council and discipline process.
We have more work to do, but I was pleased to see the VT-ACLU call our use of force bill the best in the country.
We managed to override the governor’s veto of a significant climate bill that sets Vermont on a path to correct our outlier status in New England. We have the highest per capita carbon footprint and have been the slowest to reduce our emissions compared to neighboring states. We are now aimed at meeting the Paris reduction targets as a start.
Your Chittenden County Senators have worked effectively as a team across a broad range of issues and I am proud to be a part of that work.
I’d be honored to have your vote and, as always, welcome any questions or comments.