The New Year is a time when many of us reflect on the past and dream and plan for the future. I feel privileged to be returning to the Vermont State House as one of South Burlington’s four state legislators and I am eternally grateful for the trust and confidence that you have placed in me. Thank you. I don’t take this responsibility lightly and in preparation for our upcoming work, I have met with constituents, South Burlington community leaders, agency and business representatives, and advocates and lobbyists as well as members of the administration and the House Speaker-elect.

Late in November there was a briefing for legislators with presentations on several of the major challenges that will confront us this January: state revenue and budget, mental health and substance use disorders, water quality, and pensions. All of the material as well as a video recording of the day is available on the link to the Joint Fiscal office found on the legislative web page (www.leg.state.vt.us).

While committee assignments will not be made until January, I anticipate that I will continue as Chair of the House Human Services Committee. Some initial priority areas include responding to the challenges and opportunities that Vermont’s aging population presents; investing in people so that adults have the necessary skills and supports so they can work at jobs that pay and so that children can thrive, and removing those barriers that get in the way of building strong and healthy communities.

Based on reports emanating from two committees (the Governor’s Marijuana Commission and the Child Protection Oversight Committee) I sat on this summer and fall, I anticipate that there will be further legislative debate on whether to move forward with a tax and regulate system for the currently legal adult recreational use of marijuana as well as identifying needed reforms to the state’s response to strengthening families and protecting children. Please let me know what you think.

One way to keep track of a committee’s work on these and other issue, votes, and floor schedules is through the legislative website. If you are tracking any particular issue closely or if you are interested in attending a committee meeting or testifying, please let me know how I can assist you. In any case, come visit the State House, it’s a beautiful building which you can tour for free either with a group or on a self-guided tour; all committee meetings as well as the full House and Senate sessions are open to the public and I’d love to have coffee or lunch with you in the State House cafeteria.

“If the spirit of liberty should vanish in the other parts of the union and support of her institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.” Now, more than ever, the sentiment of this 1928 quote from President Calvin Coolidge which is etched in granite and displayed just outside the coatroom at the Vermont State House is important and please know that it will guide my legislative work.

I so value the comments that so many of you share with me. Please continue to stop me in the grocery store or on the street, meet me for coffee, call, write or send me an email with your thoughts and opinions on how to make Vermont an even better place for all of us to live, work, and play.

In addition, please put our monthly legislative forums that the four South Burlington legislators hold at the South Burlington Public Library located in the University Mall on your calendar. They are typically on the fourth Monday of the month and our next one will be Monday, Jan. 29, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. It’s an informal and open setting where neighbors talk, ask questions or just listen. Hope to see you there!

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