On Thursday January 23rd the House passed bill H107 a Paid Family and Medical Leave bill on a vote on 89 - 58. This legislation would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave or 8 weeks of family medical leave and would grow our workforce, attract young people, and support the lives of working Vermonters. Unfortunately the Governor vetoed this bill late Friday. The House and Senate will have override votes in the very near future. Two-thirds of members present in both chambers must vote to override a veto. If all members are in attendance, this is 100 of the 150 members in the House and 20 of the 30 members in the Senate. Vermont is one of 36 states that requires a two-thirds vote from both of its legislative chambers to override a veto. I have heard from no one who opposes this bill and I will continue to support this legislation as a mother, business owner and caregiver. Stay tuned.
This past week was quiet on the floor but not in committee rooms. House Healthcare testimony continued to focus on creating an affordable and accessible healthcare system. We took a deep dive into the recommendations of our Rural Healthcare Task Force and heard testimony from primary care doctors about the struggles they face. We agreed to try to tackle three constant and growing issues - shortage of nurses and doctors, access to specialists, affordability - by creating subcommittees. These are complex issues that require research, time and engagement with others outside of our committee. By breaking into subcommittees we can focus on these specific concerns and still have committee time to focus on our other priorities like addressing the governor's budget, focusing on our mental health system and addressing the various bills sitting on our wall.
The Department of Mental Health released their 10 year plan for an integrated and holistic system. Although we only heard a brief overview we are encouraged simply by the title’s language - integrated and holistic. Our physical health and mental must be treated as one both in policy and payment. We also heard from many advocates on Mental Health Advocacy day. The people who experience mental health issues and those who are there to provide treatment and support persevere through stigma in an unjust system that lacks many basic resources. Until we achieve parity with physical and mental health our committee will keep pushing.
If you’d like information or have feedback on the above or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Thank you for allowing me to be your representative in Montpelier.
Below are a few upcoming events:
Climate Caucus Public Forum, How can Vermont do its part to combat climate change - and why does it matter to you?
Tuesday, February 4, 6 to 7:30 pm, Vermont Statehouse | Room 11
A Night with Mitzi Johnson, Vermont Speaker of the House
Monday, February 10, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Art Hound Gallery, 221 Way
Community Conversations with your Essex Delegation
Saturday, February 15, 9 - 10:30 am at Sweet Alchemy, Upper Main St Essex
Pre-Town Meeting Overview of Merger
Saturday, February 15, 1-3pm at Essex Middle School Cafeteria
Light refreshments and supervised child-friendly activities* provided.
*Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you will need supervised child-friendly activities.