We are now in the middle of our Town Meeting week break. Thank you to all who come out to the Town of Essex meeting on Monday night to vote on the budget – which passed. Thanks also to all who voted yesterday for Selectboard. Patrick Murray and Annie Cooper were elected to the Essex Selectboard. Congratulations to both. Thank you to Irene Wrenner for her many years of service.
The Village of Essex Junction will hold our annual meeting April 3rd at Essex High School. This is the time we vote on the municipal budget. A free community dinner begins at 6pm with the meeting beginning at 7pm.
Essex Westford School District will hold their annual meeting Monday April 8th at 7pm at the Essex High School Auditorium. Voting on the budget occurs April 9th from 7am to 7pm.
Back to the Statehouse. The House is currently working on the FY2020 budget. The House is on target to advance this budget proposal shortly after our break. The budget will be balanced – to meet the needs of Vermonters while keeping ongoing spending in check. While building the budget, the House Appropriations Committee goes deep into the numbers, hearing testimony from all state-related entities. They look at old and new initiatives to ensure they are accountable and provide value for the residents of Vermont. They question proposed reductions, as well increases, position changes, perceived program delivery hurdles, use of "one-time" money, and "vacancy savings." They seek the input from all policy committees and testimony from advocates. I'll be reporting more on the budget in coming weeks.
Two bills relating to tobacco and E-Cigarettes passed their respective chambers. In December 2018, the Surgeon General declared an epidemic regarding e-cigarette use among teens. This action was prompted by new data showing a 78-percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in just one year's time (2017-2018). In that same timeframe, middle school use increased by 48 percent. Teens who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to become regular tobacco users. The Vermont House voted to pass H47, which places an excise tax on the liquids and delivery devices of e-cigarettes to discourage use among youth who are the most price-sensitive consumers. Just as we tax other tobacco products, 92 percent of the wholesale value of the e-cigarettes will be collected at the licensed distributor level and used for prevention purposes. The Senate passed S86 which increases the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age. Both of these bills have crossed over to the other chamber for testimony and action.
Our next community conversation will be March 17th at 2:00pm at The Nest Café on Main St in the Village. This is a time to talk with your Essex area representatives about issues of importance to you.
I look forward to hearing from residents, so please reach out with comments or questions anytime through the contact section on the website or firstname.lastname@example.org.VT.us.
Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve Essex Junction.