Legislative Report 10/29/2016 - Looking Ahead

As we approach the election, I want to thank my Charlotte and Hinesburg constituents for your confidence in me and the work I have been doing for the last six years in the Legislature.  I want you to know that I do not take your support for granted and will continue to keep you apprised of what is transpiring in the Vermont House on a regular basis during the session through my weekly columns in our local newspapers. Two-way communication is essential, so I welcome your input as well.

The campaign rhetoric at the national level is very disconcerting to me and, I’m sure, to you as well. The strength of our great nation – and it continues to be Great – is our ability to engage in civil discourse despite our disagreements and work collectively for solutions to the problems affecting our society, economy and environment.  Here in Vermont we still seem to be able to accomplish that feat.  While everyone may not be perfectly satisfied with an outcome, all voices will be heard and acknowledged, and compromises will be reached.  A good example of that is the energy project siting bill that we passed last session, which includes taking wind turbine generated noise into consideration for future projects.  On the most controversial issues, such as marijuana legalization, gun regulation, and vaccine requirements, the legislature holds extensive public hearings and takes this input into consideration as legislation is developed.

There are always controversial issues that confront the Legislature, and the upcoming session will be no different.  Marijuana legalization will again be considered.  We now have more data coming from Colorado and other states that have already legalized marijuana.  According to a report cited by Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, teen use of marijuana in Vermont is already twice as high as tobacco use.  Frequent marijuana use by teens and young adults harms brain development and has a strong correlation with poor academic performance. With public input and recommendations from the Health Department, we will hopefully be able to come up with reasonable regulations as well as increase efforts to discourage its use among teens. 

I also expect a strong push to pass legislation requiring background checks for all firearm purchases, which I support.  With or without the support of the new Governor, this legislation will be introduced for consideration in 2017. While Vermont may not see the same amount of gun violence as other states, our lax gun regulations make it easy for criminals to buy guns here and take them back to Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New York.  According to New York’s Attorney General, 1% (489) of the 52,000 traceable guns involved in crimes in New York alone came from Vermont (ref. https://targettrafficking.ag.ny.gov/tool/).  I-91 on the other side of Vermont is known by law enforcement as the “Iron Highway” because of the exchange of drugs for guns by out-of-state criminals along this corridor. Background checks will also provide additional protection for victims of domestic violence.

While refugee resettlement is not an area over which the State of Vermont has jurisdiction, it did become an item of discussion late in the 2016 session. The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Center in Colchester coordinates the resettlement program for all of Vermont. Rutland Mayor Chris Louras announced in April that Rutland was willing to accept 100 Syrian refugee families for resettlement in Vermont.  Because his announcement caught City Council members as well as the general public by surprise, a negative reaction resulted in dividing residents of Rutland.  The greater Burlington area, including Charlotte, has been host to refugees from many trouble spots across the world, including Bosnia, the Congo, Somalia and Bhutan. I recently had the occasion to speak with Mr. Puspa Luitel, a Charlotte resident and member of our Planning Commission, about his experience.  As a result of that conversation I have arranged with the Resettlement Center to sponsor a public forum on November 15th at the Charlotte Senior Center from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. It will feature some of Vermont's newest residents, including Mr. Luitel, who will share their experiences both before and after their arrival.  I hope you will consider attending what should be a very informative event. 

As always I want to hear from you.  I can be reached on my cell phone at 233-5238 or via email at myantachka.dfa@gmail.com.

Thank You for Your Support!

I want to express my thanks to the voters of Charlotte and Hinesburg for giving me a strong re-election endorsement. I have always tried to represent all of you well with the understanding that there are some issues on which consensus will be hard to reach. I will continue to do so. I appreciate your input and want you to always feel free to contact me anytime by email (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com) or phone (802-233-5238).

With a little help from my Grandsons, Reid, Evan and Guthrie.

Let's Grow Kids on Chittenden County Democrats Show

Vermont is facing a crisis of insufficient affordable child care. Let's Grow Kids is a non-profit that is seeking to call attention and seek solutions to this problem. On Monday, November 7th, 2016, Rep. Mike Yantachka (D-Charlotte/Hinesburg) sat down with LGK Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire to discuss the state of child care access in Vermont. Watch the interview below.  You can find more information at www.letsgrowkids.org.