I hope everyone enjoyed time outside in the warm sunny weather Friday and will enjoy watching the snow fall today. As I watch the snow fall, I am responding to all the inquiries I received from you this week. Your community engagement is inspiring and encouraging. Thank you!
Please reach out to me or Rep. Dolan with questions, concerns, and ideas. Rep. Lori Houghton (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rep. Karen Dolan (email@example.com).
ESSEX JUNCTION INDEPENDENCE UPDATE
Our next stop on this journey is Senate Government Operations. We will let everyone know when a hearing is scheduled.
House Government Operations has finished their thoughtful work on redistricting house seats. Thank you to our Town and Village Board of Civil Authority who also spent a great deal of time considering our community values and boundaries to provide recommendations. The below links provide the final maps and the legislation that will be voted on by the full house Wednesday March 16th.
Due to the population growth in Essex Junction and the constitutional requirements for representation, the House District 8-2 unfortunately can no longer follow our municipal boundaries. The maps linked below will show the areas of the Village municipal boundary that will be Town represented in 2023. Residents still live in the Village, but their state representative will be from the Town of Essex. Chittenden 8-3, encompassing Westford and the Town of Essex currently represented by Representative Alyssa Black, has been separated into two districts.
Districts have also been renamed as follows:
Chittenden 22 was formerly Chittenden 8-2.
Chittenden 23 was formerly Chittenden 8-1.
Chittenden 24 is a new district within the Town of Essex.
Chittenden 25 is a new district with Westford and part of Milton.
The Senate continues their reapportionment work.
If you have any questions, please reach out to Rep. Dolan or me.
This week the House gave final legislative approval to H.679, a bill that balances the FY22 state budget at mid-year while making important one-time investments in our state’s COVID-19 recovery. The bill now moves to Gov. Scott for his signature. With a combination of one-time General Fund and federal ARPA stimulus dollars, H.679 supports programs that provide vital services to Vermonters during the ongoing pandemic — while laying the groundwork for economic recovery and a vibrant future in all 14 counties. Key appropriations include:
• $60 million in workforce retention bonuses for essential community healthcare and social service providers, at $2,000 per FTE. PLUS: $6 million for retention payments for childcare staff and $4.9 million for recruitment and retention payments at the Department of Corrections
• $55 million to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for housing and increased shelter capacity
• $50 million in additional one-time funds — for a total of $200 million — to help reduce our unfunded pension liability
• $6 million to Vermont Foodbank to feed hungry Vermonters and reduce food insecurity
H.679 also includes funds for higher education (critical occupations scholarships at VSC and workforce training at UVM), supplemental grants to our 17 regional career and technical education centers, and much-needed money to stabilize our adult day service providers, and more. To read more see the links below.
VERMONT HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is now accepting applications from Vermont homeowners who are behind on their housing expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, this program provides grants for eligible Vermont homeowners for missed payments on their mortgage, utilities (water/sewer, electricity, home heating), property taxes, and homeowner's or condominium association fees. To learn more and apply, visit https://vermonthap.vhfa.org/ or call (833) 221-4208.
A separate rental assistance program is available through the Vermont State Housing Authority at erap.vsha.org or call 1-833-488-3727.
ESSEX DELEGATION COMMUNITY CONVERSATION
Please join us Saturday March 19th at 9am for updates on bills, committee work, caucus activities and more. We welcome your concerns, questions, and a spirit of open, respectful dialogue. A zoom link will be accessible on FPF, Facebook and via email a few days before the date.