Re-Elect
Mike Yantachka
State Representative
for Charlotte-Hinesburg
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Representative for the past eight years.
I would appreciate your support for another term.

Vote November 6th

Your Vote is Your Voice!



  My work in the 2017-2018 legislature:
þ  Co-sponsored legislation to require background checks for all gun sales and banning bump stocks 
þ  Co-sponsored legislation to protect victims of domestic violence
þ  Helped write and pass legislation to remove permit fees for rooftop solar and to encourage solar parking lot canopies
þ  Voted to support working Vermonters by increasing Vermont’s minimum wage and establishing a paid family leave insurance program
þ  Supported legislation to enhance economic development by improving access to energy efficiency funding for Vermont businesses
þ  Supported extending mental health coverage to first responders under workers's compensation insurance
þ Supported the creation of the Agency of Digital Services to consolidate management of the state's IT systems



Working for you, Working for Vermont


I am working for a Vermont that works for all of us. Vermont families deserve a healthy environment, an excellent public education system, safe communities, and economic opportunity.

I will continue working to support working families by:
 þ     protecting our environment by supporting clean air and water standards
 þ     supporting renewable energy and weatherization
 þ     supporting a strong public education system 
 þ     supporting sustainable family farms and forest management
 þ     encouraging a strong, entrepreneurial business climate
 þ   ensuring effective public safety and consumer protection policies
 þ maintaining a solid transportation and communications infrastructure 

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my website.  You may subscribe to postings using the "Follow by Email" app at the far right.  You can email me using the  "Contact Info" link in the Site Map to the right of this column.  I welcome your input.

Note: Blog posts entitled "Legislative Report" have been published in The Charlotte News, and those entitled "The Word in the House" have been published in The Citizen.


This site is maintained and produced solely by Mike Yantachka at personal expense and effort. 


Commentary – Two Faces of Vermont - 9/01/2018


I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who gave me a vote in the recent primary election. I do not take your support for granted and I appreciate the confidence you place in me to do a good job representing you in Montpelier.

This election contained many surprises not the least of which included the above average turnout.  Almost 24% of Charlotte voters either took advantage of voting early or took the time to vote in person on election day.  Voters showed strong support for Governor Scott in the Republican Party and Christine Hallquist was the overwhelming choice among Democrats.  This speaks well for Vermonters who affirmed polls showing that a strong majority, regardless of party, favors reasonable gun regulations.  It also showed that Vermonters can look past a candidate's gender identity and vote for the person they think will do the best job.  This is Vermont at its best, continuing the tradition of championing civil rights and civil discourse.

Recent events, however, also revealed that there are dark undercurrents to Vermont's facade.  Bennington Representative Kiah Morris, one of our few Black legislators won her primary, but chose a few days later to step down as a result of the racist harassment she and her family have experienced over the last two years, which included threats and online trolling.  Kiah is a strong, intelligent woman and an effective legislator with whom I have had the pleasure of serving and working for the last four years. She was not only a leader, but also a valuable contributor on the Judiciary Committee.  No one should have to endure conditions that make them unable to perform their job or live in fear for their own or their family's safety. I am glad to see that Attorney General TJ Donovan is now investigating this case.

This speaks to the conditions that have led to increased intolerance and divisiveness not only in Vermont but across our nation.  To be sure, bigotry has existed throughout our history and continues in spite of the civil rights movement, the passage of civil unions and subsequently marriage equality, and the election of Barack Obama.  It is our collective responsibility to call bigotry out when confronted by it. What can't be excused is the permission that was explicitly given by the person holding the highest office in the land to a small but significant minority to vent their hateful rhetoric and actions. 

In contrast, our nation just lost one of the beacons of integrity and civility in Washington, Senator John McCain. He spoke courageously in the Senate against the intolerance and divisiveness coming from the top when others in his party would not.  Let us hope that his passing will jog the consciences of his colleagues and encourage them to finally do the same.

Commentary - Climate Change Demands Action Now 8/3/2018


It is not an exaggeration to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today.  While there are many who still think that climate change is a hoax, we need only to look at melting polar ice caps, extreme storms with significantly heavier precipitation and flooding, rising global atmospheric temperatures, more frequent and intense heat waves not only in the U.S. but across the globe, and the devastating wildfires in the western U.S. that have increased in both frequency and scope.  This phenomenon will continue to create heavier and heavier economic and social impacts moving forward. We have to ask ourselves what we can do to combat this phenomenon; and to do that we have to consider the cause.

Indeed, there are many who will reluctantly acknowledge that climate change is happening, but attribute it to natural cycles rather than to human influence.  This uninformed view ignores the fact that today's atmospheric CO2 level of 400 parts per million is now 1.3 times higher than the average peak concentrations of about 300 ppm over the last 400,000 years as measured by ice cores. This data is known as the Keeling Curve and is recorded and maintained by the Scripps Oceanographic Institute of the University of California San Diego and can be seen online. This breakout from the historical trend has occurred during the last century as the human race extracted and burned unprecedented amounts of fossil fuels which contain the energy of the sun stored over millions of years.

So, the answer has to be to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Renewable energy development since the turn of the century has provided an alternative to traditional sources of energy such as coal, oil and gas. The costs of solar and wind technology, still in their relative infancy, are already on par with oil and coal. In 2011 Vermont set a goal of becoming 90% renewable over all types of energy use by 2050 and to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2025. Two years ago 189 countries, including the U.S., adopted the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce GHG emissions. Unfortunately, President Trump pulled the U.S. out of that agreement and instead has been encouraging more fossil fuel extraction. Vermont, along with hundreds of state and local governments, has resolved to continue working to achieve our own goals and those of the Paris agreement. So, how are we doing?

Sad to say, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently released the 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the numbers are disheartening. Instead of seeing a reduction of GHG emissions since 2011, the state has exceeded the 1990 baseline by 16%. The full report can be found at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation website.  While progress has been made in electrical energy generation, the largest GHG increases came in the transportation and heating fuel use components. The latter two components are where we need to concentrate our efforts going forward.  

Renewable electricity is now the cleanest source of energy in Vermont. Moreover, since no fossil fuel is sourced in Vermont, 80% of the cost of fossil fuels leaves the state.  It makes sense to transition as much of our energy used in transportation and heating to cleaner electric energy as we continue to develop in-state renewable electricity generation. This can be encouraged by factoring into the price of fossil fuels the social and economic costs of climate change. By putting a price on carbon pollution in a revenue-neutral way, Vermonters can actually benefit economically by driving and heating more cleanly. This is not a new idea and has been proposed by conservative leaders like George Schultz, Henry Paulson, and James Baker. In a June 20th op-ed in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/opinion/climate-change-fee-carbon-dioxide.html), former Senators Trent Lott (Republican) and John Breaux (Democrat) made the case for a climate change fee on carbon-based fuels. And Vermont would not be alone in adopting such a strategy.  In June, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill requiring the state to implement a carbon-pricing strategy by 2020. In Vermont legislators introduced a carbon-pricing proposal called the Economy Strengthening Strategic Energy EXchange (ESSEX) Plan that would channel revenues raised from the carbon fee to offset electricity costs.  To reduce the impact of the fees for low income and rural Vermonters, those consumers would get a greater share of the revenues.

It is well past the time to tackle this world-changing problem.  It is important to understand that we are not doing it alone and that we need to do our part.

Legislative Report 7/11/2018 - Session Epilogue


I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July and successfully survived the record-setting heat wave that accompanied the holiday. My final Legislative Report usually occurs in May. Last year, the veto session led me to write a report in June. This year, because of another budget veto, the special session of the legislature lasted until the last week of June before the budget controversy, which included two vetoes, was resolved. While still disagreeing with the fiscal policy of the legislature, which had been supported by many Republican lawmakers, Governor Scott allowed the final budget passed by the legislature to go into law without his signature. Because the Republican minority chose to uphold the Governor's vetoes rather than stand behind their original support for the budget, the special session required lawmakers on the Appropriations, Ways & Means, and Education committees to try to negotiate a compromise with the administration over several weeks. When those efforts failed in the House, the Senate Finance committee, with the unanimous support of the Senate, drafted language that incorporated essentially what the House had presented on its third attempt at compromise, but which had been again rejected by the administration. With the deadline approaching for a government shutdown on July 1, this version passed both the House and Senate giving the Governor 5 days to make a decision. Fortunately, he decided to let the budget become law without his signature rather than plunge the state into default.

While the legislature ultimately agreed to use about $30M of one-time (windfall) money to keep the residential property tax rate level and hold the non-residential rate to a 4.5 cent increase, the budget keeps Vermont on a fiscally responsible path. Revenue we can count on receiving annually is used to pay for ongoing expenses. Windfalls, like receipts from the recent tobacco settlement, are invested in paying down state debt and building our savings. This protects us from the uncertainty brewing in DC, the possibility of a recession, and ensures we can continue to make the kind of investments that support our working families.

Everyone is aware by now that the price of gasoline has increased about 50 cents/gallon during June and has remained around $3 per gallon since. In one of my reports back in January, I introduced the ESSEX (Economy Strengthening Strategic Energy EXchange) Plan, a proposal to put a price on carbon pollution to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote energy transformation. The plan was criticized for placing an additional burden on hard-working Vermonters. That proposal would have raised the price per gallon by 40 cents over 8 years at the rate of about 5 cents per gallon per year. 100% of the revenue raised would be returned to Vermonters as a credit on their electric bills with larger rebates aimed at low income and rural Vermonters. Now, prices have risen in a single month more than the maximum projected carbon tax, and that same amount, 40 cents, leaves the state into the pockets of the oil companies. Higher prices, whatever the cause, will probably reduce consumption. Unfortunately, the current increase will not provide any revenues to help Vermonters insulate their homes, convert to electric vehicles, or take other measures to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Perhaps we should send letters of protest to the CEOs of the oil companies. Do you think they would listen? Probably not; but, as always, I can be reached by phone (802-233-5238) or by email (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com)

Legislative Report 5/30/2018 - Missed Opportunities


The legislative process is both deliberate and deliberative. Bills do not get passed without a considerable amount of testimony from stakeholders on every side of an issue and discussion among the members of a committee comprised of Republicans, Democrats, Progressives, and Independents. Bills that are introduced are often modified significantly by the time they are voted out of committee and sent to the floor for consideration by the entire body of either the House or the Senate. Once the bill gets to the other chamber, the process is repeated. So, a lot of thought goes into a bill to ensure that it is a solid piece of legislation that accomplishes the purpose intended.

That is why, after hearing the rhetoric that he wants to protect the most vulnerable Vermonters and improve affordability, it is disappointing that the Governor has decided to veto four bills that address those issues. Two of the bills, S.103 and S.197, would protect Vermonters from misuse of toxic chemicals and hazardous materials. The first would create an Interagency Committee on Chemical Management to evaluate chemical inventories in the state, identify potential risks to human health and the environment, and propose measures to address those risks. It also would require testing for potability of new water sources used for human consumption. The second would require businesses responsible for exposing employees or the public to toxic materials through intentional or unintentional releases to cover the cost of medical monitoring of exposed individuals. The PFOA contamination of the public water supply in the Bennington area demonstrates the need for such legislation to protect the health of Vermonters.

Two other vetoed bills, S.40 and H.196, directly address affordability concerns for low and middle income Vermonters. S.40, the minimum wage bill, would gradually increase the minimum wage in Vermont to $15 per hour over six years. This bill would assist more than 25,000 minimum wage adult, non-farm workers who often have to work more than one job to make ends meet. It would also have the benefit of putting more money into the local economy at the same time. The other bill, H.196, is the paid family leave bill. This bill would create a statewide insurance program that would allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks to care for a child or other family member during critical times of need, including childbirth, prolonged illness, and emergency situations. The program would pay 70% of the employee's average weekly wage and would be financed entirely by a 0.137 percent tax on employee wages. For a full-time, minimum wage worker, this would be 58 cents per week, or about 5.5 cents per week for every dollar per hour. This is a crucial benefit that smaller employers often cannot afford to provide but guarantees that some income is available during times of crisis or family necessity. If we want to make Vermont attractive for working families, raising the minimum wage and addressing flexibility for families to take care of each other is necessary.

As always, I can be reached by phone (802-233-5238) or by email (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com).