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.

Early voting for the August 14th Primary has begun.


  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. 


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).

Legislative Report /Word in the House 5/16/2018 - Not Quite the End of the Session



The last two weeks of a legislative session are a whirlwind of activity. Dozens of bills that have been worked on during the previous 16 weeks of the session in both the House and the Senate reached final stages of passage. Most traveled back and forth between the two bodies as amendments were made to reflect the different concerns of the responsible committees. Twenty-eight bills this year required a conference committee made up of three representatives and three senators to resolve disagreements in language that couldn't be settled by amendments. 

The budget is the final bill passed in a session. Any bill that was still outstanding when the budget passed would be dead. As the session ended just after midnight Sunday morning, we managed to complete all of those bills as well as many more. The bills included raising the minimum wage, providing paid family leave, establishing toxic materials responsibility, protecting sexual harassment victims, funding clean water efforts, setting appliance efficiency standards, helping Vermont manufacturers improve energy efficiency and productivity, providing free tuition for National Guard members, several consumer protection and economic development bills, and an income tax reform and education funding bill as well as the budget.

Our legislative agenda reflected in the bills we passed promote a caring economy that makes Vermont more affordable for lower and middle income families, protects all Vermonters from various social and environmental impacts, and provides opportunities for economic growth. While we did not adopt the Governor's proposal for using one-time money to keep our education property taxes from increasing, the funding changes made by the legislature will hold the residential property tax rate increase to two cents in a sustainable way that avoids the need to find one-time money again next year. One-time money is just that. There’s no guarantee that it will be there next year, which just defers a tax increase. Instead, this year's one-time money will be used to pay for one-time expenses like fully funding our reserves and paying down the teachers' retirement fund obligation saving Vermont taxpayers $100M in future budgets. Our income tax changes will return $30M in extra tax revenue generated by the federal income tax changes back to Vermonters by lowering the income tax rates for everyone. Overall state spending increased less than 1 percent, significantly lower than the rate of inflation. Here are links to the details of the tax changes and to the budget.

Unfortunately, the Governor has stated that he plans to veto the budget as well as several other bills that address affordability and the health and welfare of Vermonters. The budget passed with a tri-partisan vote of 117 – 14. If he does carry out his veto promise, he will have to call the legislature back into session. There have been plenty of opportunities for the administration to engage with the legislature to work out a compromise, but that didn't happen. Now we are faced with the additional expense of an extended session.

Finally, I would like to make a correction. It was called to my attention that in my previous article about the minimum wage bill, I reference some total wage numbers that seemed to be based on different assumptions. The $15/hour total should have been $31,200 based on the same 40 hours/week and 52 weeks/year used for $10.50/hour.

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

Legislative Report 5/2/2018 - A Case for Raising the Minimum Wage


We are now in the last weeks of the 2018 legislative session. Barring any surprise demands by the Governor or legislators, like the call for passing a taxing and regulating marijuana sales that occurred last week, we should be finished by mid-May. There are a number of important bills that we continue to deal with before we pass the budget and adjourn. One of these bills is the Minimum Wage bill (S.40), which was passed by the Senate and has been studied for several weeks by the House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee.

The current Vermont minimum wage is $10.50/hour which became effective on January 1, 2018. The bill under consideration would continue increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024, about a 75 cent increase per year on average, starting at 60 cents in 2019. The minimum wage exemptions would remain the same, including for students under age 18, agricultural workers, nannies/babysitters, newspaper deliverers, and employees of nonprofits that receive state funds. The bill would also adjust state child care subsidies to account for the minimum wage increases in order to maintain those benefits for low wage workers with children.

So, why do we need to keep raising the minimum wage since Vermont has one of the highest minimum wages in the northeast? The simple answer is that for a large number of people, it is simply not enough to live on. Governor Scott has talked repeatedly about making Vermont more affordable and protecting the most vulnerable. For the approximately 25,000 Vermonters who work one or more minimum wage jobs, it is still too hard to pay for the basic necessities of supporting their families. For single parents making minimum wage, there are repercussions for their children as well. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) of all minimum wage earners in Vermont, 62% work full time, 88% are at least 20 years old with an average age of 38, 56% are women, and 22% have children. On average, those with families earn 55% of their family's total income. A person working 40 hours per week at the current minimum wage makes about $21,840/year, slightly above the federal poverty level for a three person family. However, according to the EPI study, a modest but adequate standard of living in Vermont for one adult without children costs about $32,000/ year, including housing, food, transportation, taxes and health care. With children, necessitating child care, the costs are even higher. At $15/hour, the 2024 target, a full-time minimum wage job would pay $31,200*, which would no longer be a poverty-level wage.

Objections to raising the minimum wage revolve around the increased costs to business, the potential loss of jobs, and economic impacts. Most minimum jobs are in the service sector of the economy. In the first year, a full-time employee's earnings would increase $1250, a cost to the employer. This cost would presumably be passed on to consumers. However, the increased income would also be spent, thereby injecting more money into the local economy. The impact on jobs would be minimal compared to the increase in wages. Moreover, the high turnover rate seen in minimum wage jobs may be reduced thereby saving employers training costs. The EPI study estimates that while 2% of low wage jobs would be lost, 98% of low wage workers would benefit. Overall, the economy would benefit from raising the minimum wage gradually over several years while improving the affordability factor for those who need it most.

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

*Note: The original publication of this article incorrectly had $26,500 as the annual income at $15/hour for a full time job.