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With the conclusion of January-May , 2014 Legislative session, legislators can now return home,get back to their families, ”paying jobs” and enjoying all that makes Vermont the great place it is to live.
The Green Hills are green again after the is long,hard winter. There's now time to get the garden in, maybe do some paddling on the river and then, of course, start stacking next eras wood, as we only get so far from winter around here.
This session was a lot like this winter. Relentless in it's challenges. The economic limitations of an economy still recovering from the double whammy of the Great Recession and Tropical Storm Irene felt like the growing snow banks on our roadsides as winter pressed on. We knew they would recede, but not sure when.
It all provided quite the challenge for each of the 25 committees in the legislature. Tough decisions weighing good ideas against budget realities. Just as each household has to do likewise, the legislature balances it's budget and provide as best we can for the basics and then looks to see if there's anything left to do more.
Headline grabbers like GMO Labeling and Net Metering for home solar get a lot of media attention but our work reaches far more broadly. From transportation infrastructure to telecom infrastructure and promoting solar electric production -to providing the human infrastructure to serve the disabled, the elderly and young children growing up in economic poverty. Vermonters expect their wishes reflected in the policy decisions that touch our everyday lives,and pave the road to the future.
Alongside these ongoing concerns is the spike in addictions and providing treatment options for addicts, closing loopholes in prescription drug dispensing and in the big picture, looking at the culture of legal drug dependency fostered by an ever growing pharmaceutical industry. This epidemic is affecting our whole nation. In Vermont, we have had the courage to name the problem and face it head on. In the long run,we beehive we will all be better of for it.
In Human Services, our priorities keep stretching across demographics. As we look ahead, our aging population, and the needs we face moving forward become more and more obvious..
We also look to invest in the future with more support for early education and Pre-K opportunities,
Health Care and reforming our systems of care and paying for care continue to be a top priority for Gov. Shumlin and the legislature. Access to care -and lack of it- continues to be a paramount concern in the 21st Century. That the USA is still far behind other industrial nations in providing health care for all, Vermont is leading the nation in our evolution towards a single payer insurance model. Withe the Blueprint for Health we are also addressing health care models for chronic care. (with chronic care, taking up 60% of every health care dollar).
Our Mental Health System has also been undergoing reform efforts. When Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the state psychiatric hospital in Waterbury, Gov. Shumlin set a new course. From a large, centralized state hospital to a smaller unit in Waterbury surrounded by increased local supports, the new system is just getting in place to provide services more effectively and closer to home for patients and their families.
And, overlaying all of these other issues is the specter of more damning evidence that Global Climate Change is real, caused by human action and begging for doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint.
We've been gathering the low hanging fruit in conservation, efficiency and alternative energy. Next steps will be more challenging and require real change in some basic habits many of us have come to utilize as second nature like driving and drying our clothes,a dn heating our homes.
Research shows that Vermont's carbon footprint is dominated by emissions from vehicular traffic and inefficient home heating. Car pools and ride sharing are the most immediate way we can start to address reducing our carbon footprint.
While programs like PACE have allowed some Vermonters the resources to upgrade their thermal efficiency, we need another dedicated funding source to continue expanding thermal efficiency programs . I look forward to working with other legislators next session to do just that.
For more information about organizing carpools, or joining up with carpools visit:
For a comprehensive recounting of the work from the legislature in 2014, please visit the Legislative Updates page on this website..
As always ,please feel free to be in contact with question or comments-especially if you are having difficulty getting service from state agency. Sometimes we can make a phone and unblock a line of service that you are depending on.
And, thanks again for the opportunity to serve you and our community. Together we can keep Vermont the best place to live and raise a family for us, and generations to come.