Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by many “how are things are going in Montpelier?” Although we are not in session in Montpelier until January, there is still quite a lot going on – not only at a state level but right here in our wonderful Village.
So, this posting will focus on the legislative task forces, joint committees and study groups that are in full force tackling important state issues. Included is information on how you can stay informed.
But first I want to remind everyone we have an important Village vote happening this fall. How can you be an informed voter? Keep on reading.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or Rep. Dolan on any issues. Our contact information is: Rep. Lori Houghton (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rep. Karen Dolan (email@example.com).
ESSEX JUNCTION INDEPENDENCE
We have what I believe is the most important vote of the Village’s recent history on November 2nd. This vote asks whether or not to adopt a new charter for the City of Essex Junction. A yes vote will make our municipality independent from the Town of Essex. A no vote will maintain the status quo.
For long standing community members you may be asking, why another vote? For new community members you may be asking, what does this mean? You will find answers to your questions at https://www.ourvillageourvoices.org.
Our Village, Our Voices (OVOV) is a citizen-led initiative whose purpose is to educate and inform residents about the upcoming independence vote, listen to residents for input into the vision and values Essex Junction should hold, and to get out the vote.
Want to ask questions directly of the Trustees? Coffee chats will be held every Saturday through October 16th from 9am to 10:30am at the Brownell Library Pavilion. Bring your favorite local coffee and your questions for a conversation with a Village Trustee and OVOV volunteers.
Each week Rep. Dolan or I will provide one of the questions and answers found at https://www.ourvillageourvoices.org.
QUESTION: Will independence affect the school district (EWSD)? Would the school district also have to separate?
ANSWER: Separation will not affect the school district or school operations, and the school district would not have to separate. Essex Junction schools are part of the Essex Westford School District, which functions as an entirely separate municipal operation from the Essex Junction, Town of Essex, and Town of Westford governments.
I encourage everyone to be an informed voter.
Ballots will be mailed in early October, or you can vote in person November 2nd at the Essex High School.
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES MEETING NOW
Task Force on Affordable, Accessible Health Care shall explore opportunities to make health care, including prescription drugs, more affordable for Vermont residents and employers, including identifying potential opportunities to leverage federal flexibility and financing to expand existing public health care programs. Next Meeting September 29th
Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors report will recommend to the General Assembly an action plan and proposed legislation to ensure that all public-school students have equitable access to education opportunities. Next Meeting September 13th
Vermont State Employees and Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement Systems:
This task force will report on the benefits, design, and funding of retirement and retiree health benefits for the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System and the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement Systems. Next Meeting September 15th
Joint Fiscal Committee:
The Joint Fiscal Committee is a Joint Legislative Committee that reviews fiscal issues and is charged with approval of grants, responsibilities to carry out rescissions under 32 V.S.A 704; and oversight and management of the Legislative Fiscal Staff. Next Meeting September 17th
Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee:
Exercises oversight over the Department of Corrections and works with and aids other legislative committees on matters related to corrections policies. Next Meeting: September 14th
These are only a few of the important committees that are meeting over the summer and fall. You can find the full meeting schedule for all committees at: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/meetings/2022#leg-committees