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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.

Legislative Report 1/9/2021 - A New Beginning

Legislative biennium begins amid national turmoil

As the world reacted in shock to the events unfolding in Washington, DC, on January 6th, the Vermont Legislature was convening for the 2021 – 2022 biennium.  The storming of the U.S. Capitol for the first time since the War of 1812 by a mob egged on by a self-serving President, who refused to recognize that he lost the election, drew strong reactions throughout Vermont’s state government.  That afternoon Governor Scott condemned the lawlessness and called for the President’s immediate resignation or removal from office.  The following day the Vermont House passed with a vote of 130 to 16 a resolution sponsored by Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, and Independents calling for the same. (The text of the resolution can be found at https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2022/J.R.H.1.)  In my lifetime only the 9/11 attack on our nation’s capital compares, and this time it was against the Constitution and our democracy itself by our own citizens.  This is not what America stands for, and we need the country to make a course correction immediately. I hope that the nation can begin to resolve our deep political differences starting today.

Here in Vermont the legislature began its work not in the usual fashion with pomp and circumstance in a packed chamber with friends and relatives looking on as members, new and returning, were sworn in, but from our own homes over Zoom.  The House unanimously elected its Speaker, Representative Jill Krowinski of Burlington, as well as the Clerk of the House, Betsy Ann Wrask. Members were assigned to committees, and resolutions were passed to formalize the rules and procedures under which the legislature will operate while the pandemic emergency order is in place.

Traditionally, the Governor would give his inaugural speech to a joint session of the House and Senate in the House chamber.  This year, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, Governor Scott chose to deliver the speech on television in the evening.  He did briefly address the joint session online earlier in the afternoon, congratulating the historic ascension of women to almost all the leadership positions in the legislature.  In the House they include Speaker Jill Krowinski, Democratic Majority Leader Emily Long of Newfane, Republican Minority Leader Pattie McCoy of Poultney, and Progressive Minority Leader Selene Colburn of Burlington.    The Senate is led by Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, and Democratic Majority Leader Alison Clarkson.  Senator Randy Brock was elected as the Republican Minority Leader.

In his address to the legislature, Governor Scott acknowledged the necessity of working remotely, keeping meetings open to the public online, and working together for the benefit of all Vermonters.  He said that while the pandemic brought heartache to many, it also showed that Vermonters care for each other.  This care has made Vermont more successful in controlling the spread of the virus than many other states.  While we cannot know when life will get back to normal, there is a light at the end of the tunnel because of the vaccines that are now available and being distributed.  He reiterated his long-standing goals of growing the economy, protecting the vulnerable, and making Vermont more affordable, goals that are shared by legislators as well.  The hard work now begins on how to achieve those goals.

I welcome your emails (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com) or phone calls (802-233-5238).  

Thank you!

 Dear Voters of Charlotte and the southwest corner of Hinesburg,

Thank you very much for once again trusting me to represent you in the Vermont House of Representatives.  I will continue to work for a clean environment, for working families, and for social justice. As the new year begins, the legislature will continue to work remotely with the possible exception of the first week. We will continue to provide the help Vermonters need to get through the pandemic, and we'll do it with a balanced budget.  Hopefully, we will see additional help come from the federal government.  I will continue to keep you informed about what is happening in the legislature, and I will continue to welcome your questions and comments via email, phone calls and personal (socially distant) interactions. 
Thank you again for your support and trust.

Rep. Mike Yantachka
Charlotte-Hinesburg (Chit 4-1) District
House Energy & Technology Committee
(802) 233-5238



More than 260,000 votes have already been cast in Vermont, 71% of all the votes cast in 2016.

This is one of the most important elections in our lifetime.  The fate of democracy is literally on the line at the national level.  Four more years of a Trump presidency will lead to the most autocratic administration the United States has ever seen.  

While Governor Scott has handled the Coronavirus pandemic well, his failure to work with the legislature to make Vermont more affordable for working families, to protect Vermonters from the effects of toxic spills, and to take effective steps to curb emissions contributing to global warming has resulted in a failure of leadership.  Electing Lt. Governor David Zuckerman to replace Phil Scott and Molly Gray to serve as Lt. Governor will give Vermont the leadership we need to move forward for a more resilient, affordable, and growing economy. 

If you haven't sent in your ballot, DO SO TODAY  at your polling station.

In Charlotte, the polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM at the Town Office on Ferry Road.

Legislative Report 10/1/1010 - Legislative Session Finally Ends!

 When the Legislature convened on January 7th this year, no one thought we would still be meeting in September.  We finally adjourned Friday, September 25th, after the longest legislative session in Vermont’s history. The Coronavirus pandemic constituted a major disruption in the lives of everyone on the planet and is still doing so.  After shutting down the Statehouse in March, the Legislature adapted. We came together virtually, stronger and more united in purpose, and immediately led with our values to support Vermonters and our communities through this trying time. We moved swiftly, always putting people first. We supported our neighbors with the help of aid from Congress and passed major legislation addressing other issues as well, including climate change and racial inequities.

There is no doubt that 2020 will go down in history as a momentous year.  Along with COVID-19 and unprecedented wildfires throughout the west, it was marked by several high-profile killings of people of color and, most recently, by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  In the same week RBG was being laid to rest, a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, failed to indict police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment. Nationwide demonstrations over the killing of Taylor and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, persisted throughout the summer and were inflamed this week by the results in the Taylor case. Locally, demonstrators in Burlington’s Battery Park have been demanding the firing of three police officers who were involved in several use of force incidents.

In recognition of the systemic racism impacting people of color, the Legislature took weeks of testimony regarding racial equity and police reform and passed two bills, S.119 and S.124. These bills build on S.219, an act addressing racial bias and excessive use of force by law enforcement, which passed in June and was signed into law in July. S.219 requires state law enforcement agencies to comply with reporting requirements on race data and use of force, including threatened force, during roadside stops. It also amends unprofessional conduct parameters for law enforcement to include 1) using a prohibited restraint on a person that may prevent or hinder breathing, reduce intake of air, or impede the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, and 2) failing to intervene and failing to report to a supervisor when an officer observes another officer using a prohibited restraint or otherwise using excessive force on a person.

S.119 modernizes statutory standards for law enforcement use of force and requires the standards to be implemented statewide.  The last time the legislature put restrictions on police use of force was in 1840 providing that a law enforcement officer will be guiltless if he kills or wounds someone while serving legal process, or in suppressing opposition against him in the just and necessary discharge of his duty. The updated standards provide that the use of force by law enforcement is lawful if it is ‘objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional’; and the use of deadly force is lawful if it is ‘objectively reasonable and necessary in defense of human life.’

S.124 reorganizes the Criminal Justice Training Council as the Criminal Justice Council, whose job it is to train and professionally regulate law enforcement officers. It will now be a balanced council made up of civilians, including people representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) communities, people who have lived experience with mental health conditions or psychiatric disorders, and a mental health crisis worker as well as representatives of law enforcement and the Attorney general’s office. The Council will recommend statewide policies on officer qualifications, testing, and training, and will propose policies on use of body cams, surplus military equipment and facial recognition technology.

Additionally, this year’s budget allocates about $525,000 to embed mental health professionals with law enforcement.  Hopefully, by clarifying the parameters of use of force and providing an alternative approach to de-escalating potential violence, we  will be able to avoid excessive use of force incidents in the future.

Finally, voting is underway with ballots mailed out statewide for the November election.  Your vote is your voice.  Use it!  I welcome your emails (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com) or phone calls (802-233-5238). 

Legislative Report 9/15/2020 - House Acts on Budget and Climate

The legislature moved closer to final adjournment last week with the passage by the House of the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget.  Since all money bills, both taxation and spending, must originate in the House, the next step is for the Senate to weigh in. With a tri-partisan vote of 140 to 4, the House-passed budget (H.969) preserves services to vulnerable Vermonters while also seeking to ease the burden of pandemic impacts by appropriating federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF). It is a full-year budget that incorporates the first quarter elements that were passed in June. H.969 allocates dollars to make child care more affordable, integrates physical and mental health care funding so that health care services for Vermonters are coordinated, provides resources for existing businesses and for vulnerable Vermonters looking to start a business, and invests in public transportation and incentives to reduce the cost of electric vehicles. The bill also ensures Vermont colleges are strong by making a record investment in post-secondary education, including $23.8 million in bridge funding for the Vermont State Colleges System. This is a balanced budget that ensures there are no cuts to the services Vermonters count on. At the same time, it fully funds future obligations, and keeps our reserves full to ensure we are in a strong financial position heading into the uncertain months that lie ahead.

In a separate bill, H.968, the VT House voted 129 to 15 to create a Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Equity Program that will provide $5 million in relief payments to Vermonters ineligible for federal assistance because of immigration status. Approximately 4,000 adults and 1,000 children without Social Security numbers who reside in Vermont, including Green Card holders whose spouses cannot work, will be granted one-time payments mirroring the federal economic stimulus payments that most Americans received last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic ($1,200 for adults; $500 for children under age 17). These workers, many of whom have kept the state’s dairy and vegetable farms operating seamlessly through the crisis, were declared “essential” by executive order. Governor Scott included this concept of aid to immigrant and undocumented Vermonters in his recently proposed FY21 budget. The House Appropriations Committee recommended a stand-alone bill apart from the budget to fund this program and identified additional monies to cover all potential recipients statewide. The program would be paid for with General Funds ($2 million) and monies from the 2018 Tobacco Litigation Fund ($3 million). All payments would be awarded by June 30, 2021 and any unspent funds would revert back to the Tobacco Fund.

The House also took a major step toward addressing climate change, a priority voiced by Vermonters for several years, by accepting the changes proposed by the Senate. On a vote of 102 to 45, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), H.688, was passed and sent to Governor Scott. Scott has five days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.  The veto-proof votes in both the House and Senate demonstrate that Vermont takes its responsibility to fight climate change seriously. The GWSA converts Vermont’s emissions goals into achievable and realistic requirements that meet the targets in the Paris Climate Accord. The Climate Action Plan will be created by a Climate Council composed of representatives from state agencies and departments and from the business community and environmental organizations. Details of the GWSA can be found on my website at https://www.mikeyantachka.com/2020/02/legislative-report-2202020-building.html.

I welcome your emails (myantachka.dfa@gmail.com) or phone calls (802-233-5238).  This article and others can be found at my website (www.MikeYantachka.com).