Report from Montpelier: Jan. 23, 2014

Kate Webb

Kate Webb

By Rep. Kate Webb

To date, the 2013-14 legislative session has seen over 1,000 bills introduced, with somewhat less than 100 of these becoming law. The remaining bills are currently in one of the 14 House or 11 Senate committees. There are bills that seek sweeping changes in policy or funding. Others seek some small changes in statute that are of interest to a person, group, or governmental agency. We will see around 50-100 more bills make it to the Governor’s desk. The rest will fade away at the end of the session.

I know quite a bit about the bills related to water issues and wildlife, as I hear direct testimony and have opportunity for inquiry and lengthy discussion on these topics on a daily basis in my committee. I also keep track of bills that are brought to my attention by public media, public and private meetings, political caucuses, and advocates from many walks of life. Although I may not be able to answer a question about a bill right away, I can invariably find the answers and get up to speed on bills of interest to you.

What are ways that I can help Shelburne residents in the legislature? Historically, I have brought citizen’s concerns to a committee or leadership; helped citizens provide testimony; introduced new legislation; or simply kept folks abreast of progress. At times, citizens have asked me to introduce legislation that I knew I could not get behind. In those cases, I have made recommendations as to who might be a better fit.

In the coming months, we expect to hear plans to improve the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect. We will also hear an array of suggestions, some quite controversial, on the funding of health care going forward. We will debate the underlying problems and accompanying solutions to reduce the impacts of poverty and drug addiction. We will passionately argue the future needs of education and how this relates to our different ideas about affordability. We will take a hard look at what needs to change in the practices of farming, forestry, road construction, river control, and development to protect our lakes.

We will look at our energy needs and our role in global warming. We will look at what we need to do to keep or attract the businesses that can thrive in Vermont and help our economy. And finally, we will vigorously debate the size of government, considering what we should let go and what we cannot live without. You can follow this activity at www.leg.state.vt.us. Calendars and journals will mark activity in the House Chamber. Standing Committee pages will allow you to follow committee activity. And, you can contact me directly. Email is most effective.

Please join Joan Lenes and me for coffee and conversation Tuesday mornings, 7:30-8:30am at Bruegger’s next week, then switching to Next Door Café for the month of February. I am also available by appointment: katewebbvt@gmail.com or 233-7798.

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