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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.



The 2020 Census is important to Vermont’s future Health & Wellness. It’s simple, secure and ensures funding for Vermonters.  Click here because you count!

Re-Elect
Mike Yantachka
State Representative
for Charlotte-Hinesburg


Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Representative for the past ten years.
I would appreciate your support for another term.

Register to VOTE Online:
mvp.vermont,gov

Primary election: August 11, 2020
General election: November 3, 2020
Vote in person or by mail.


  My work in the 2019-2020 legislature:

þ   Sponsored and passed legislation to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels with energy efficiency funding for businesses, electric vehicle incentives, and weatherization programs for homeowners
þ  Supported legislation to help Vermont individuals, businesses and communities respond to the Coronavirus pandemic
þ  Helped Vermonters navigate the Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs during the COVID-19 shutdown
þ  Co-sponsored the Global Warming Solutions Act to require Vermont to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change
þ  Co-sponsored legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and revise police use-of-force criteria and training in unbiased policing
þ  Supported working Vermonters by voting to increase Vermont’s minimum wage and establish a paid family leave insurance program
þ  Supported expanding workers' compensation to cover mental health services for first responders
þ  Supported legislation to maintain funding for our schools with a minimal increase in property taxes due to COVID-related impacts

       


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.

Endorsed by:
Sierra Club, Vermont Conservation Voters, Moms Demand Action, American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO, Professional Firefighters of Vermont (PFFV)
        



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).


Legislative Report 9/3/2020 - Back in Session

 

The Vermont legislature returned, virtually, to Montpelier last week to complete the work of developing a budget for the last three quarters of fiscal year 2021. While this is our primary objective, we are not ignoring other important issues that require our attention.  The pandemic continues to require making adjustments, and there are a number of issues that can’t be shunted aside while we wait for a return to “normal”. 

As we got started last week, we passed two bills, S.233 and H.967.  S.233 eases the ability to transfer certain medical and trade licenses from states with similar licensing requirements.  Equivalent skills learned in the military will also qualify for Vermont licensure.  H.967 will allow a family childcare home to care for school age children for a full day when the child’s school has scheduled the child for remote instruction. Current law limits the care to four hours per day on school days.

As the state is putting the billion dollars of Coronavirus Relief Funds to work in the programs authorized by the legislature in June, the Governor presented his budget for the remaining $200 million to the legislature. With due diligence, the House Appropriations Committee with the help of other relevant committees is reviewing the proposal.  One of the Governor’s proposals for CRF money is to give every household a $150 payment that could be used for purchases from local merchants using a phone app.  While it might be a good idea, this is raising several questions. Since CRF money can’t be used for direct payments to taxpayers, is this a legitimate use? What about households that don’t have access to a smartphone? Local businesses would have to opt-in to receive payment from the app. Would everyone have reasonable access to participating merchants?  The Commerce Committee is currently taking testimony on this and will very likely propose changes.

The protests this summer in response to the many tragic killings of black men and women by police and by individuals acting as vigilantes has awakened the American consciousness to the systemic racism and societal bias present in our nation.  National politics has fueled the divisiveness as people choose sides between supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and respect for police.  There is a danger in viewing this issue in either/or terms as well as ignoring its implications in Vermont. Choosing sides is akin to tribalism. Neither side should be painted with a broad brush.  Instead, we should be looking at the conditions which create bias in policing and correct them. We also need to be respectful of protestors and their right to protest peacefully. There must be room for dialog.  Only then can the problem be solved. There are several bills that are currently under consideration in the House that will clarify the policy on use of force by police and training requirements in unbiased policing.  A recent study by UVM has indicated that black drivers in Vermont are significantly more likely to be stopped and searched than white drivers yet have a significantly less incidence of possessing contraband than white drivers. Recognition of a problem is the first step toward change.

Climate change hasn’t stopped because of COVID-19.  When we went into lockdown in March, there was a noticeable decrease in driving for a couple of months.  This probably resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions during that time. The new phenomenon of “Zooming” has also decreased the need to jump in the car for meetings and work, but people are becoming Zoomed-out and yearn to get back to face-to-face meetings. If you’ve been out recently, you probably noticed that traffic is almost back to pre-COVID levels. We need to keep our attention on our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The Senate passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWAS) with minor changes, and the House is expected to concur with the Senate’s amendments and send the bill to Governor Scott for his signature. You can find my article explaining the GWSA on my website.  As we head into winter, we also want to be sure that funds for weatherization are available for low- and moderate-income families.  A Senate bill (S.337) that will allow Efficiency Vermont to increase assistance for weatherization has passed in the House this week.

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

9/2/2020 Senate's Energy Efficiency Bill Is Passed by the House

The House has passed a bill that allows Vermont's Energy Efficiency

utilities, Efficiency Vermont and Burlington Electric Department, to expand the money-saving services they deliver to Vermonters. It broadens their energy efficiency mandate to include helping Vermonters save on their heating and transportation costs, not just electricity bills. As such, it allows the testing and development of new strategies to achieve our climate goals while saving Vermont families and businesses money.

These strategies will be tested in small pilot programs for 3 years, and funded out of existing revenues with no increase in electric rates.  


Details

Program funding is limited to no more than $2 million (less than 5%) of existing revenues — in fact the overall electric efficiency budget for the three-year pilot period is required to stay at or below the current three-year period, or else the pilot programs will be discontinued.  Though targeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the bill, S.337, stipulates that programs must have a nexus to electricity — essentially this means encouraging "beneficial electrification," or replacing high-GHG fossil fuel use with low-GHG electricity.  


Efficiency Vermont and Burlington Electric Department must consult with State agencies to avoid duplicating programs.  They must also cooperate with other utilities, and the pilot programs must complement and not replace or compete with utility programs.  The programs must maximize cost-effective GHG reductions, and must be delivered statewide and reasonably proportional to electric efficiency charges collected in each utility territory.  


Front Porch Forum Post: Trouble with Poor Internet Service at Home?


Mike Yantachka • State Representative, Chittenden-4-1                                         8/2/2020

Announcement

HAVING TROUBLE WORKING, LEARNING, OR ACCESSING NEEDED HEALTH SERVICES FROM HOME BECAUSE OF POOR INTERNET?

Act 137 recently passed by the legislature provides for assistance to Vermont residents and businesses to improve internet access speeds using Coronavirus Relief Funds. This assistance is being administered by the Department of Public Service. If you work from home or have kids that need to learn remotely, DPS may be able to help. The web site is https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/having-trouble-working-learning-or-accessing-needed-health-services-home-because-poor.

Tell the Department of Public Service about your need for high-speed internet by completing a quick survey at https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/interactive-broadband-map. NOTE that you have to enter your address in the upper left search field of the map to access the survey.

If your Internet speeds are too low for you to easily load the map and survey, call 1-800-622-4496 for help filling them out. The Department is developing programs to bring high-speed internet to areas where there is need.

Financial assistance to help consumers who live just beyond the reach of existing broadband services is also available. For details about this program go to https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/vermont-covid-19-line-extension-customer-assistance-program.

Additionally please help the Department improve internet availability in your school district or catchment area by providing your physical (E911) address where you do not have adequate high-speed internet service. The Department will use this information to seek funding and coordinate service providers to bring high-speed internet to areas where it currently isn't available. If you've already filled out the map and survey, thank you. Your efforts will help secure additional resources.