I hope everyone is experiencing some relaxation and fresh air this summer. These FPF updates from Rep. Dolan and I may be off our normal schedule over the next month as we both take some time with our families before school starts backs up and legislative priorities once again become our focus.
As always, we welcome hearing from residents so don’t hesitate to reach out. Representative Lori Houghton (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Representative Dolan (email@example.com).
VERMONT EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (VERAP)
What is VERAP? This program was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Vermonters avoid eviction or loss of utility service. ERAP was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021.
What does VERAP include? VERAP helps tenant households with paying rent, past-due rent balances (also known as arrears), utility and home energy costs, utility and home energy cost arrears, and other expenses related to housing. Rent expenses include rent, rent arrears. Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil.
VERAP will be accepting applications for rental assistance through 12/31/2021 or until the funds are depleted. Find out eligibility requirements, benefits and how to apply at:
Vermont State Housing Authority | Emergency Rental Assistance Program (vsha.org)
MEDICAL DEBT PROJECT NEEDS YOUR STORIES
The Office of Health Care Advocate (HCA), a project of Vermont Legal Aid, assists thousands of Vermonters each year with questions and problems related to health insurance and access to care. Through this work, they have identified medical debt as a major challenge facing many Vermonters. They have launched a story collection project to deepen their understanding of medical debt and how it impacts Vermont families’ health care decisions. Please complete their online survey to share how the cost of health care impacts your life. Participants will be entered into a raffle for $25 VISA gift cards to thank them for their time. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. If you prefer to verbally share your story or if you would like a printed copy of the survey, please call: 1-800-917-7787 ext. 297.
The survey can be found at: https://www.vtlegalaid.org/hca-survey
ESSEX JUNCTION INDEPENDENCE
I’m taking a break this week from offering a Q&A from the Our Village, Our Voices website (https://www.ourvillageourvoices.org) to share information about the upcoming Town of Essex public forums. As you read the details below, please remember Village residents are also Town residents and it’s important to have Village voices heard at these public forums.
The Essex Selectboard is hosting three facilitated public forums in August to hear from residents throughout the entire community on how to prepare for the Village of Essex Junction’s upcoming independence vote and subsequent Vermont Legislative decision on the creation of an independent City of Essex Junction.
Wednesday August 4
6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Memorial Hall, 5 Towers Road
Overflow parking at Essex Free Library and Essex Elementary School
Friday August 6
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Online only via Microsoft Teams
Meeting link available at www.essexvt.org/publicforums
Saturday August 21
9:00 am to 10:30 am
Town Offices, 81 Main Street
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT – Act No. 64 (S.48)
With the session now firmly behind us I will use my bi-weekly update to highlight some of the lesser-known actions taken this past year.
Our state, as most in the country, has a healthcare workforce shortage. The Rural Health Task Force submitted a report to the legislature in January 2020 identifying a need for 5000 nursing related positions in VT. This year we passed Act No. 64 (S.48) an act relating to Vermont’s adoption of the interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. In the simplest terms entering the Compact authorizes Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses/Vocational Nurses to practice in each state that is a party to the Compact without having to obtain a license in each state. 34 states are currently compact members, including NH and ME. A nurse must meet the Compact requirements to obtain a Compact multistate license, including a criminal background check, meeting education and exam requirements, meeting the home state’s qualifications for licensure, and having a valid U.S. social security number.
Entering into the Compact improves Vermonter’s access to care by allowing nurses in NH to provide telehealth services to Vermonters, removing a barrier to those nurses who want to live NH and but work in VT, and it will make recruiting nurses to VT easier by eliminating a licensing barrier.
Act 64 brings Vermont in line with the vast majority of states in licensing nurses and makes Vermont a more attractive home state for nurses. It has the potential to help us keep more of the nurses we graduate from VT nursing schools.