This new legislative session has brought many changes. This year, we are seeing committees working on legislation in a more comprehensive way, including creating various committee drafted bills instead of stand-alone bills. Few large public hearings have occurred so far, but committees are always interested in hearing your testimony on issues that are important to you. Stay tuned for ways to get involved!
Hunger Free Vermont is pushing the state to implement Universal School Meals. Sign a supporter card here.
Priorities This Week
- Governor’s Electric Vehicle Funding Bill
- S.25 Cannabis Regulation
- Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID
- Housing is Healthcare
- H.106 Community Schools
- Creation of the Agency of Public Safety
- State Employees’ Retirement System
Updates from Last Week
The Vermont Racial Equity Task Force released its second report on disparities in state government. This report includes recommendations to address hate speech and harassment; COVID; health outcomes, including a call to declare racism as a public health epidemic; expansion of the Human Rights Commission Office of Racial Equity; mascots; a hardship supplement for low-income legislators, and more.
Farm to Table presented its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan and report to the legislature last week. Recommendations included: promotion of sustainable dairy and agricultural projects; support for emerging BIPOC and women-owned farms and businesses; networking and collaborative opportunities in the agricultural sector; additional staff to provide technical assistance to farmers; and addressing food insecurity.
Our Renew Bills
RAD is a member of the Renew New England Alliance, a coalition with a shared vision for jobs and climate action in our region. Earlier this year, we launched the regionwide policy platform and announced our endorsed candidates for the 2020 races who joined us in this vision for New England. As our 2021 legislative sessions get underway, we are working with the statewide Vermont Renews coalition to make things happen at the state level. Our areas of focus for 2021 are Housing Justice (Green Housing Retrofits), Food Justice, and Green Justice Zones. Our state coalition is supported by both a Renews BIPOC Council and our regional Coalition in the development of our state specific policies. RAD is committed to ensuring that the voices of the most impacted are central to any proposals brought forth under Renews. To achieve this, we partnered with RAD champions to introduce short form bills as a placeholder as our coalition partners, council members and organizing teams build out this important legislation over time. Each of the bills under the Renew platform includes a job guarantee with a minimum $15 minimum wage or prevailing wage (whichever is higher) and support for unionized labor for all jobs created and impacted by this legislation.
Housing Justice: H.221 – Representatives Tanya Vyhovsky, Taylor Small and Elizabeth Burrows introduced our short form bill to support green housing retrofits, including solar installations, weatherization and more.
Food Justice: (No bill number yet) – Representative Heather Surprenant is working with legislative council on a comprehensive bill to support small, emerging BIPOC and individuals from marginalized groups as farmers and businesses within the agricultural sector. The proposal includes a grant to fund businesses to address gaps in Vermont’s food system, natural products industry, and support for small cannabis growers.
Green Justice Zones: (No bill number yet) – Representative Katherine Sims is leading the charge on a bill that seeks to replicate the incredible environmental justice work out of Providence, Rhode Island to address the environmental harms disparately impacting BIPOC or people of the global majority. This bill would identify up to three data-driven environmental hotspots and create a BIPOC participatory budgeting process to end these harms and revitalize these communities.
Bills We’re Watching this Week
- Revisions to Election Law
- Housing for Agricultural Workers
- Transportation Updates
- Reducing Carbon Emissions
- Transportation Electrification
- Personal Electric Vehicles
- Replace Your Ride
- H.145 Police Use of Force
- H.171 Financing Vermont’s Child Care System
- H.196 Expanding Support of the Executive Director of Racial Equity
- J.R.H 2 State Apology for Eugenics
- Broadband Access and Workforce
- Governor’s Capital Budget Proposal
- Drinking Water Revolving Loan
- Women’s Correctional Facility Discussions
- H.159 Better Places Program