Dear Neighbors and Friends,
I hope that this email finds you and your family healthy, happy and safe. It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve the people of Guilford and Vernon in the Vermont House of Representatives.
As 2020 comes to a close, I am reflecting on the past year and am filled with gratitude for the way our community has come together to help one another during this challenging time. The pandemic has revealed the inequities and the gaps. While we will continue to face challenges – there are also brighter days ahead. I have seen how by coming together we can creatively problem-solve to support our communities, our schools, local businesses and the most vulnerable Vermonters. This gives me great hope and inspires me for my work ahead in the Legislature.
As we head into 2021 and the start of a new biennium I wanted to share some information about the coming session and what I will be focusing on. Please know that I am available as a resource and an advocate, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEW BIENNIUM
The Vermont Legislature will begin its 2021-2022 biennium on Wednesday January 6th, and I am eager to reconvene with the other 149 members of the House to focus on the health of our communities and our economic recovery that leaves no one behind.
To protect the health and safety of staff, legislators, and Vermonters at large, the Vermont House will conduct its policymaking virtually over Zoom during the months of January and February, so as not to have 150 House members gathered in one space from all corners of the state.
The Speaker of the House and party caucus leaders will preside from the podium and floor respectively to invoke the spirit of the opening ceremonial day. Elections for Speaker, Clerk, resolutions, and other key motions will occur on that opening day. Members will take the oath of office simultaneously from the confines of our homes and we will also vote using a secure application on our mobile devices or by a voice-vote roll call depending on the nature of the decision at hand. All of the ceremonies, floor debates and committee meetings will be streamed publicly via YouTube at: https://legislature.vermont.gov
PREPARING FOR THE SESSION
Over the last several months, I have been busy meeting over Zoom with constituents, local organizations, advocates, trade groups, businesses, nonprofit organizations, school boards and our selectboards who have been eager to share their legislative priorities for the coming session.
In early December I attended briefings by the state’s economist and staff of the Joint Fiscal Office who gave an overview of Vermont’s economy; highlighted the impacts of the $1.25 billion CARES Act investment in the state; and pointed out emerging trouble-spots on the horizon around food security, women departing the workforce due to childcare unavailability and the immense pressures that small businesses and the hospitality industry are under to survive let alone thrive.
My priorities heading into this next biennium are informed by my values and my conversations with constituents and local businesses and organizations. My focus will be on working on policies and investments that will strengthen our rural economy (affordable childcare, broadband and housing), address equity and systemic racism, and support innovation and solutions to climate change.
The House Democratic Caucus, to which I belong, held a day-long meeting on Saturday, December 5th to discuss the issues of concern to constituents in our districts. We spent 6.5 hours together sharing priorities, as well as beginning to design an interconnected strategy for COVID recovery that centers on supports for our rural communities, small businesses and the most vulnerable Vermonters.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak with my colleague Rep. Mike Mrowicki about our priorities and hopes for the upcoming legislative session. Please use this link to watch the interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfRxZLwXRGY. Many thanks to Rep. Mrowicki and to BCTV for hosting the Montpelier Connections series.
COFFEE WITH COFFEY: FIRST SUNDAYS OF EVERY MONTH
I continue to host my monthly “Coffee with Coffey” on the first Sunday of every month from 3-4pm. This is a great community forum where I share legislative updates and respond to constituents’ questions and issues of concern. I look forward to connecting with you and learning what’s on your mind. Please use this Zoom link if you would like to join us: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87653733300?pwd=c0pDdk9EcHJKUnUzQjY0cm0wbEw3Zz09
Wishing you health, peace and happiness in year ahead!
State Representative, Windham-1/ Guilford & Vernon