I believe this past week was the calm before the storm. We have only a few weeks left in the session and week 15 was a quiet one. We did pass S92 which puts in place strengthened prescription drug transparency rules, allows pharmacists to provide information on lower drug costs at the time a prescription is filled, and requires additional reporting by medicaid and commercial insurers on those drugs with the highest spend in Vermont and where the price increases greatly. Most importantly S92 puts in place a generic type law for speciality drugs – think Humira and Embril - as their generic versions become available. All of the above will result in lower prescription drug costs, over time, to both insurers and patients. S92 will now head to the Senate for final approval.
Also, Governor Scott signed an executive order establishing the Governor’s Community Violence Prevention Task Force. This task force, composed of 14 members from the administration and the public, will review existing research and current gaps in Vermont communities to report back on how to address the “root causes” of the risk of violence.
Finally, our community hosted Congressman Peter Welch on Friday as he toured local businesses, spoke with Village officials and held a community conversation at The Nest Café and Bakery. I personally took much away from the visit but the most impactful to me was Peter’s statement “don’t underestimate what you can do in your local community.” With that as the backdrop I want to let everyone know about a new community initiative in Vermont that is happening this year. It is called Neighbors Day and the entire State of Vermont will be celebrating it on June 2, 2018.
To give you a little background, Neighbors Day was created in 1999 in Paris by Atanase Périfan, the deputy mayor of the 17th arrondissement after the unnoticed passing of an elderly resident. Périfan created Neighbors Day to help create bonds between strangers and since its inception, it has spread to more than 30 countries on 5 continents.
Last year the Essex Junction was the first local municipality to celebrate Neighbors Day in Vermont. After the success of that event, we decided that Vermont would be the perfect state to be the first place in the US to celebrate Neighbors Day as a statewide event. Dylan Giambatista and I wrote a Resolution that was passed at the start of legislative session in January designating this event to be held statewide.
There are many reasons that this is an important event, especially as the political climate in the US creates a divide between many people in our communities. Ultimately, the best part of this event is its simplicity. It is not a party for an entire village or town, but rather it is a hyper-local event planned by the citizens themselves and involving only their own self-defined “neighborhood”. Last year, some residents invited only the houses to their left and right for cocktails, while others invited the entire floor of their apartment building for an ice cream social. My neighborhood invited 30+ households to a breakfast event held on the playground of our neighborhood school.
This Neighbors Day initiative is a reflection of the power of positivity that still exists in Essex Junction and Vermont. I hope that you will find a way to bring this event to your neighborhood. You can find out about the history of Neighbors Day as well as all of the details about planning and hosting an event on the website: http://neighborsdayvt.org.
As always, I appreciate the opportunity to serve Essex Junction. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns – firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-373-0599