Week 6 Legislative Update
The Vermont cold settled in this weekend and weather models are showing a snowstorm (or two) for the week ahead. My son is already hoping for a snow day – a normal hope in an unnormal world. Take care of yourself while shoveling and remember to check on your neighbors.
If you or someone you know needs help during this difficult time, please reach out to Representative Dolan or I and we will do our best to connect you with appropriate services.
Contact us at email@example.com or KNDolan@leg.state.vt.us.
We continue the hard work of moving Vermont through and out of the health and economic pandemic. We are doing this work through the FY22 budget process, as well as, in committee work addressing systemic issues that were exacerbated with COVID-19. Your House Health Care committee continued hearing testimony this week on health care disparities with testimony from Xusana Davis the State of Vermont’s Executive Director of Racial Equity and Kirsten Murphy the Executive Director from the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council. We also began work on H.210 an act relating to addressing disparities and promoting equity in the health care system – a priority for our committee. I encourage you to read the legislative findings found in H.210 at Bill Status H.210 (vermont.gov) with one guiding our work being “research and experience demonstrate that Vermont residents experience barriers to the equal enjoyment of good health based on race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status.” You can watch all our testimony at Vermont House Committee on Healthcare - YouTube.
I hope everyone read the February 5th column in VTDigger by House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate President ProTem Becca Balint, responding to hateful acts against women-of-color leaders in our state. There have been a recurring number of BIPOC women stepping down from elected office due to ongoing harassment and racist targeting in their local communities. This must stop! As the Speaker and ProTerm insist “We call on every Vermonter to join us in standing up against prejudice, discrimination and hate-driven conduct” and “commit to having courageous conversations and holding ourselves and our neighbors accountable.” Read the column here: https://vtdigger.org/2021/02/05/krowinski-balint-we-call-on-every-vermonter-to-stand-up-against-prejudice/
SPECIAL HEALTH INSURANCE ENROLLMENT
Beginning Feb. 16, the State of Vermont will offer a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for Vermonters to enroll in a qualified health plan and receive premium and cost-sharing assistance, if eligible. Please apply by CALLING the State’s Customer Support Center at 855-899-9600, M-F, 8 am-4:30 pm, NOT ONLINE. Vermonters declared ineligible in the past are welcome to apply again. More details here: https://dvha.vermont.gov/covid-19
Starting 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16, people in Vermont who are age 70 and older will be able to make their appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Going online to healthvermont.gov/myvaccine is the fastest way to make an appointment and provides information on the process. I recommend you visit the site now to create an account to be ready to make the appointment starting Tuesday. If you already have an account because you were tested for COVID-19 through a Health Department site, use the same account to make your appointment.
Family members and friends are encouraged to assist their loved ones with the online system as needed.
Anyone who is unable to make their appointment online, or who needs to speak with someone in a language other than English can call 855-722-7878. The call center is open Monday to Friday 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
ESSEX RELATED EVENTS AND COMMUNITY SUPPORTS
TOWN OF ESSEX PUBLIC HEARING ON PLAN OF MERGER and TOWN MEETING
The Town of Essex will hold the second of their two public hearings Tuesday Feb. 16 on the proposed Plan of Merger.
Town Meeting will occur online this year with an information only meeting Monday March 1st at 7:30pm. In order to keep Vermonters safe, voting on the budget and other articles, including the question of merger, will occur via mailed ballots. In person voting will also be available on Tuesday March 2nd.
More details for both meetings can be found on the Town of Essex website: Essexvt.org
ESSEX CHIPS ACTIVITIES FOR TEENS
CHIPS has ramped up resources to meet the needs of youth in this time of social isolation. Please check out Teen Center activities, a youth mental health series, food bank and TeenLine resources. CHIPS is holding cooking classes, crafts, fitness sessions, STEAM projects, and more-- all free, and with all the materials provided. See the full schedule of activities and sign up here: https://www.essexchips.org
Please continue wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing physical distancing.
Be kind to each other and yourself.
Rep. Lori Houghton
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