2017 Issues Focus

In the seven years I have served as the State Representative for Charlotte it has been a privilege to serve on House committees dealing with energy policy and conservation. The threat of global climate change has emerged as one of the salient issues of the 21st century. As a strong advocate for renewable energy and energy conservation, I have been able to contribute to Vermont's policy goals of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. This will continue to be the primary focus of my work in the legislature.

However, there are many other issues that every legislator must consider during every session.

1. Reduce education funding dependence on property taxes.
The cost of our public education system has been rising while the number of students being served has fallen dramatically in the last 15 years. We have been supporting the same educational infrastructure while serving 20,000 fewer students. Act 46 of the 2016 session provided for school district consolidation. I believe this law has the potential to save money across the state while providing access to educational programs that are not currently available to some students. In 2016 Charlotte joined our partner towns in the Chittenden South Supervisory Union voting to consolidate into a single Chittenden South School District, which resulted in a significant decrease in property taxes in 2017.  While progress has been made, we must continue to monitor education spending to deliver a high quality educational experience to our children in an efficient manner.

2. Increase funding for low income weatherization programs.
As a member of the Energy & Technology Committee, I am very concerned about climate change and its effect on Vermont both from an environmental and an economic perspective.  We need to not only support our goal of transitioning to renewable energy sources, but to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for heating and transportation. We need to increase incentives for weatherizing Vermont's aging housing stock as well as encourage highly energy efficient new construction.  Transportation in our rural state presents the most difficult energy sector to address. We need to investigate and develop ways to allow people to reduce their carbon footprint for transportation in an affordable way. The VW settlement over emission control cheating will provide $23M to Vermont for vehicle emissions mitigation.  There are settlement constraints on how this money can be used, but some of it should be used to improve Vermont's electric vehicle infrastructure.

3. Invest in Affordable Child Care
One of the biggest constraints on economic development in Vermont is a shortage of skilled workers to fill existing job openings.  One of the complaints we hear from employers is that they have trouble attracting younger workers with families to Vermont. Between a shortage of affordable housing and the high cost of child care, young families find it difficult to move to Vermont. I agree with the non-profit Let's Grow Kids that making child care more affordable will help grow our economy. We need to recognize that investing in child care will provide more jobs at higher wages and make Vermont a better place for everyone, young and old.

4. Require background checks on all firearms sales.
Responsible citizens have the right to own firearms.  However, we have to find a way to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals and dangerously mentally ill persons.  Federal law requires background checks when guns are purchased through a federally licensed firearms dealer, i.e. any sporting goods store or gun shop.  Background checks should be extended to gun shows, online and person-to-person sales as well. As the NRA is fond of saying, "Guns don't kill people; people do."  So, we have to take whatever steps we can to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.  Persons who can pass a background check when purchasing a gun from a dealer have nothing to fear from this legislation.  Only felons, domestic abusers and persons judged in a court of law to be dangerous to themselves or others would be prohibited.  While there will always be an opportunity for such a person to skirt the law by buying from an unscrupulous individual, responsible, law abiding gun owners will be helping to protect their fellow citizens when selling their unwanted guns with a background check.