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State Representatives Report on 2017 Statehouse Session

With the daily chaos raining down on the nation from the Trump White House, the 2017 Vermont Legislature had to add to the work focused on Vermonters.
Protecting Vermonters from the Trump Regime added to our work in many areas including environmental protection, and human rights, were part of our “Protect US From Trump Plan”.

An unfortunate aspect to the goings on in Montpelier, is that that the Political Hunger Games from DC, started to leak into the Vermont scene at the end of the session.More on that later.

Some of the Legislative highlights of the session include passing a balanced budget that protects vital services while rejecting Governor Scott’s proposed $50 million property tax increase. And, we have fought back against President Trump’s discrimination against immigrant Vermonters, and locked in rules to protect our environment before the Trump Administration could gut them. Among the other work we passed;
-A Racial Justice Oversight Board
-Help for First responders to get treatment for on-the-job PTSD;
-creating a volunteer State pension system for working Vermonters
-implementing a system of paid family medical leave insurance.
-Protecting Freedom of Speech / and a Free Press with a shield law
-Ethics bill for elected public servants
-Firearm Removal from the scene of Domestic Assault
-Act 46 Reform allowing more time and flexibility to develop alternative governance structures
-Environmental Protection through aquatic invasive controls and a Toxics bill to protect Vermonters from toxins in the environment.

And, then, there was the end of session chaos. 11 days before our scheduled adjournment, the Governor, along with the Vt. School Boards Association, put on the table a major proposal that he claimed would save money on health insurance for educational staff. But, only if the state usurped local control for negotiations. Interesting, in that we often hear from Republicans how much they dislike consolidating power and keeping decision making local. Except when they don’t.
Another interesting aspect of this is, that those savings were happening already and would happen, with or without interference from Montpelier.

Both the House and Senate rejected the Governors proposal for several reasons. First, it was a major proposal and as such needs comprehensive vetting, not an uninformed, last second fly-by decision. Second, is it is an attack on both local control and collective bargaining, a cornerstone of labor relations . The same labor relations that built the middle class and keeps the income disparity in this country from growing even larger. Third, the so-called savings aren’t guaranteed and it isn’t clear, if there are savings, how much? The real kicker was , we were told, the deal was presented as a “Once in a lifetime- better hurry now” kind of deal.
Not sure about you, but whenever a salesman starts telling me a deal is too good to be true but you have to act now, I put my hand on my wallet and head for the door. I wouldn’t buy a used car under those circumstances and sure wouldn’t buy health insurance under those circumstances.

Vermont has been one of the stable places in this nation. We hope the chaos from Washington isn’t being invited into the Green Hills. So, let’s hope our so-called, ”moderate” Governor, isn’t taking lessons from his Republican counterparts in places like Wisconsin and the White House.
(Note- Update on the Governor’s Veto Session in June- an agreement to pass the budget has been agreed to. It is the same plan, legislators offered to the Governor at the regular end of the session.)

And, so, now that the part -time legislature has adjourned and we’re back home, it’s exciting to see all the grassroots actions in response to the Trump regime. With the Women’s March, the March for Science and the Environment, it’s heartening to see so many people becoming active in resisting the Trump regime and making Vermont a better place.
We look forward to working together in common cause, to resist and persist, and move us to a stronger, healthier Vermont.

As always, we want to hear from you.Contact information and a more detailed legislative report can be found on the Updates page of our website;

And, as always, BIG Thanks for the honor to serve you in Montpelier,

Rep. Mike Mrowicki Rep. David Deen