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VERMONT COALITION FOR DISABILITY RIGHTS

VCDR 2021 Weekly Legislative UPDATE February 16 – February 19

VCDR 2021 Weekly Summary of Legislative Activities, Committee Agendas and Calendar of Events

February 16- February 19

Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights

Legislature

The Legislature reconvened on Wednesday January 6th. This is a new biennium with newly elected Representatives and Senators along with those returning to the legislature, new leadership in the House and Senate and a new Lt Governor. 

The Legislature will continue to meet remotely, as they have since March of 2020; at least until they re-evaluate this March. Although there certainly have been some technology issues and other with meeting remotely, for the most part all legislative meetings can be accessed remotely. This included the respective caucus, floor sessions of the House and Senate, legislative committees and other special committees. See links below

The Legislature expects to meet on a fairly regular schedule (Tuesdays through Friday) to do the session’s work. See Legislative pages below

The work to combat the ongoing Coronavirus health and economic crisis continues to be on the front burner for the Scott Administration and the Legislature, as it was last year. House and Senate Leadership have promised to tackle other key issues as well.

The ongoing crisis a has only heightened the precarious situations many Vermonters face: low income children accessing the internet for remote learning; food insecurity and isolation for the elderly and those with disabilities; loss of income and/or those needing to work for low wages on the front lines with few safety measures; housing; healthcare and other.

Much work remains to help stabilize low income families in the short term and include all Vermonters in the recovery efforts.

The legislature addressed a number of these issues during the extended session last year with the help of substantial federal funds and existing state revenues, and the focus this session will again be COVID recovery efforts. There are some additional federal funds passed in H.R. 133 already authorized in December (see link below), but the needs certainly exceed the federal assistance provided.

President Joe Biden is putting forth another stimulus bill that is about $1.9 billion in aid. The legislation includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. Another $350 billion would help state and local government’s bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave for workers and large subsidies for child care costs. Negotiations continue in the House and Senate on the additional stimulus package.

The Governor has presented his Fiscal Year 2022 budget to the legislature, without significant cuts and without raising taxes (see articles below). The Legislature is in the process of passing a FY 2021 Budget Adjustment and holding public hearings and taking testimony on the FY 2022 Budget.

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***THIS WEEK***

The House will take up the Budget Adjustment Bill as amended by the Senate on Tuesday H.138    https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2022/H.138

Committees in the House will be preparing their letters of recommendations to House Appropriations for FY2022

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee will take up:

 H. 101 – An act relating to the implementation of 2018 Acts and Resolves No. 173 by providing grant funding to build systems-driven, sustainable literacy support for all students with measurable outcomes

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0101/H-0101%20As%20Introduced.pdf

Act No. 173 (H.897of 2018). Education; special education funding – An act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support

Wednesday is Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition Day

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***LAST WEEK ***

The House and Senate Appropriation Committees held a Public Hearing on Monday February 8th. To submit written testimony please sends to: Theresa Utton-Jerman [email protected]

See the House Appropriations Committee Pages to see written testimony submitted on Monday, February 8

https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2022/9/Date/2-8-2021#documents-section

The public hearings are available to watch live on YouTube here: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/streaming/vermont-joint-fiscal 

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***LEGISLATIVE PAGES***

Legislature Website: https://legislature.vermont.gov/

Announcements – Caucuses, Meetings and Streaming Links:

https://legislature.vermont.gov/home/noteworthy/announcements/

Complete Schedule of Legislative Committee Agendas: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/weeklyAgendas/2022

House and Senate Committee Pages: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2022/9/Date/1-15-2021#documents-section

All committees can be viewed through you tube LIVE STREAM. You can find the link on the committee’s page or the agenda.

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***SELECTED TESTIMONY***

**NEW**

XUSANNA DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RACIAL EQUITY, AGENCY OF ADMINISTRATION

ADAM GRESHIN, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND MANAGEMENT

Senate Health and Welfare

**NEW** STEPHEN KLEIN

**NEW** HUMAN SERVICES

House Human Services – Last week

SEAN BROWN

DEPT. FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/Reach-Up-Annual-Report-2021_FINAL.pdf

MONICA CASERTA HUTT, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF DISABILITIES, AGING AND INDEPENDENT LIVING                                      DDAIL – FY 2022 Budget Testimony
DDAIL – FY 2022 Budget Vantage Reports
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**JOINT FISCAL INFORMATION***

Joint Fiscal Page: https://ljfo.vermont.gov/

Subjects (Budgets): https://ljfo.vermont.gov/subjects/appropriations-and-budget

Governors FY 2022 Budget Proposed

FY22 Recommended Budget Executive Summary  https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/WorkGroups/House%20Appropriations/FY%202022%20State%20Budget/W~Governor’s%20Recommended%20FY%202022%20State%20Budget~Executive%20Budget%20Summary~1-26-2021.pdf 

FY21 BAA SAC Highlights FY 2021

H.138 Senate Appropriations Proposal of Amendment FY 2021

FY 2021 Budget Adjustment Web Report – Senate by Joint Fiscal Office | FY 2021

Stimulus Package:
2nd Federal Stimulus Package – Estimates to Vermont – Updated January 15, 2021

All Coronavirus Relief Fund Appropriations by Category of 2020 CARES Act

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***COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS***

House and Senate Committee Pages: https://legislature.vermont.gov/

Weekly Committee Agendas: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/weeklyAgendas/2022

Below please find highlight of House and Senate Committees this week. You can go to any committee page to find documents, bills, and testimony by date, witness, bill numbers and key word searches. The House Appropriations Committee generally meets on Mondays until they pass the budget over to the Senate; most other committees meet Tuesday through Friday.

HOUSE COMMITTEES

House Committee on Appropriations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/9

On Tuesday the committee will take up amendment to the budget adjustment bill back from the Senate and on Wednesday they will take testimony on the Commerce portions of the FY 2022 budget. Thursday they will hear from the Green Mountain Care Board

House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/11

On Tuesday the committee will discuss their letter of recommendations to the Appropriations committee and on Wednesday will here from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. On Thursday they will take up H.159 – An act relating to creating the Better Places Program. This bill proposes to create a Better Places Program to support projects that create, activate, or revitalize communities and public spaces

H.159 https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0159/H-0159%20As%20Introduced.pdf

House Committee on Corrections and Institutions: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/17

The committee will take up the Governor’s Capital Budget Proposal FY 22-23 all week hearing from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board on Thursday and the Women’s Correctional Facilities on Friday

House Committee on Education: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/10

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee will take up H.101 – An act relating to the implementation of 2018 Acts and Resolves No. 173 by providing grant funding to build systems-driven, sustainable literacy support for all students with measurable outcomes. (Act No. 173 (H.897of 2018). Education; special education funding An act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support).

H.101 https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0101/H-0101%20As%20Introduced.pdf

On Wednesday and Thursday the will take up 21-0782 – An act relating to addressing the needs and conditions of school facilities in the state.

House Committee on Energy and Technology: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/19

On Wednesday and Thursday the Committee will take up – An act relating to communications; broadband deployment

House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/13

On Tuesday the committee will take up J.R.H. 2 – Joint resolution sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices and on Wednesday will hear from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition and Pathways Vermont. On Wednesday they will also take upH. 211 – An act relating to recovery residences

House Committee on Government Operations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/14

On Thursday the committee will take up H. 196 – An act relating to supporting the work of the Executive Director of Racial Equity

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0196/H-0196%20As%20Introduced.pdf

House Committee on Health Care: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/15

On Tuesday the committee will take up   Children and Mental Health and on Wednesday will take up  H. 210 – An act relating to addressing disparities and promoting equity in the health care system

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0210/H-0210%20As%20Introduced.pdf

House Committee on Human Services: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/16

On Tuesday the committee will take up H.114 – An act relating to the Nutrition for Older Vermonters Working Group and receive the report on Meals to Older Vermonters and Other Vulnerable Populations. Wednesday they will hear about Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Day.

House Committee on Judiciary: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/18  

On Friday the committee will take up H. 145 – An act relating to amending the standards for law enforcement use of force

https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0145/H-0145%20As%20Introduced.pdf

House Committee on Transportation    https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/20

The committee will take up 21-0655 – An act relating to the Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportationall week.

House Committee on Ways and Means: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/21

SENATE COMMITTEES

Senate Committee on Appropriations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/23

All week the committee will take up 21-0540 – An act relating to FY 2022 Governor’s Recommended State Budget and hear from the Department of Mental Health and on Friday.

Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/32                    

On Tuesday and Thursday the committee will take up S. 10 – An act relating to extending certain unemployment insurance provisions related to COVID.  On Wednesday the committee will take up S. 70 – An act relating to requiring health insurance plans to provide two primary care visits per year without cost sharing. They will take testimony on the FY 2022 Budget during the week as well.

Senate Committee on Education: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/24

On Tuesday the committee will discuss COVID-19 Education-related Needs and on Wednesday will take up S. 75 – An act relating to screening students for dyslexia. On Friday they will take up 21-0752 – An act relating to ensuring that public tuition is not used to support religious instruction or worship or the propagation of religious views

Senate Committee on Finance: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/25

On Tuesday the Committee will take up S. 60 – An act relating to allowing municipal and cooperative utilities to offer innovative rates and services and Arrearages and Disconnections in a Pandemic. On Wednesday they will take up S. 59 – An act relating to an income tax surcharge to reduce State retirement liabilities.

Senate Committee on Government Operations: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/26

On Thursday the committee will continue their discussion of   the Public Records of Juveniles and on Friday they will discuss the outline of an Elections bill.

Senate Committee on Health and Welfare: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/27

This agenda has not yet been published.

Senate Committee on Institutions: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/28

This agenda has not yet been published

Senate Committee on Judiciary: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/29

On Tuesday the committee will take up S. 25 – An act relating to miscellaneous cannabis regulation procedures

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***VCDR Bills of INTEREST***

Courtesy of Disability Rights Vermont

Attached – Also See www.VCDR.ORG

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***Articles of Interest***

**NEW** The Deeper Dig: Xusana Davis on race, belonging and ‘Vermontiness’ By Mike Dougherty and Amanda Gokee Feb 14 2021

**NEW** Lawmaker questions whether systemic racism exists By Emma Cotton Feb 12 2021, 8:18 PM

**NEW** Lawmakers Set Aside $110 Million for New Rental Assistance Program POSTED BY COLIN FLANDERS ON THU, FEB 11

https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2021/02/11/lawmakers-set-aside-110-million-for-new-rental-assistance-program

**NEW** Lawmakers approve nearly $100 million for pandemic rental assistance By Xander Landen Feb 11 2021, 8:43 PM

Scott appoints Hutt as chief prevention officer; Gendron joins ANR – VTDiggerhttps://vtdigger.org/news-brief/scott-appoints-hutt-as-chief-prevention-officer-gendron-joins-anr/

Pilot project in southwestern Vermont aims to break down barriers to social services By Emma Cotton  Feb 7 2021

$250,000 and two new jobs proposed to further racial equity in Vermont By Amanda Gokee Feb 8 2021

https://vtdigger.org/2021/02/08/250000-and-two-new-jobs-proposed-to-further-racial-equity-in-vermont/

The Deeper Dig: A guide to the governor’s budget By Mike DoughertyXander Landen and Kit Norton Jan 31 2021

“Gov. Phil Scott pitched a $6.83 billion budget this week, leveraging an infusion of federal dollars to fund $210 million in one-time investments. The windfall is providing the state a “rare opportunity,” Scott said, to accelerate COVID recovery and invest in long-term needs such as broadband and child care.”

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***LEGISLATIVE EVENTS***

Legislative Breakfasts and Public Events

Action Circles puts together a list of social media and remote-meeting events being held by legislators to communicate with their constituents. You can fund that here: https://www.action-circles.com/legislator-events/

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**Informational Links**

VT Department of Health – COVID -19:   https://www.healthvermont.gov/                                  

VT Digger State Coronavirus Updates: https://vtdigger.org/coronavirus/

COVID-19 Coronavirus: Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters https://vtlawhelp.org/coronavirus-updates

VT LEGAL AID SERVICES UPDATE: https://vtdigger.org/press_release/vermont-legal-aid-service-update/

Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living:                   https://dail.vermont.gov/novel-coronavirus-information

Department of Mental Health:  https://mentalhealth.vermont.gov/coronavirus-and-our-mental-health

Resources for Education Agency of Education Guidance to Schools: https://education.vermont.gov/news/covid-19-guidance-vermont-schools

Judiciary: https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/news/information-regarding-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-1

Department of Children and Families  – Child Care:                               https://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd/covid-19

CHILD CARE STABILIZATION GRANTS:

https://dcf.vermont.gov/sites/dcf/files/CDD/Docs/COVID/COVID-Private-Tuition-Payments-Stabilization-Guidance.pdf

Department of Labor: https://labor.vermont.gov/

Department of Labor FAQs for Employers and Employees: https://labor.vermont.gov/covid19/covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

Specific Guidance for Employees: https://labor.vermont.gov/covid19/employees                                                      Employee Assistance (Unemployment Claims):  1-877-214-3332.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIM FORM https://vermont.force.com/DOLClaim/s/ 

Vermont Tax Department: https://tax.vermont.gov/coronavirus

Information on COVID-19: 

Vermont Department of Health: State agency providing updated information on matters of public health, including disease outbreaks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Federal agency with up-to-date information on health and security.

Office of Governor Phil Scott: Press releases from the governor’s office, including details on the state’s efforts to address COVID-19.

The University of Vermont Health Network: Provides updated information from the health network, including preventative measures and current cases.

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Submitted by Karen Lafayette, VCDR Coordinator [email protected]