COVID-19, Events, Issues, Legislation/Bills

June Celebrations & Activities

It’s officially summer! As always, June is packed with celebrations and new beginnings. Below are some highlights of June activities, connections to recent legislative work, and important information about early voting and COVID vaccinations.

Early Primary Voting Begins Saturday
This is a huge election year in Vermont, so voting is more important than ever! More than one-third of legislative seats and most of statewide offices are up for a primary election contest. This includes the race for Vermont’s lone member of the U.S. House where we finally have the opportunity to elect a woman to represent us in Washington (Vermont is the only state that hasn’t done so yet!). You can register to vote or check your own personal My Voter Page to make sure your voter information is current. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, August 9. Ballots for the general election in November will be mailed to all active voters, but for the August primary, starting this Saturday you can request a mail-in ballot to vote early or vote in person on August 9.

COVID Vaccinations for Youngest Children
This past weekend, the CDC announced that COVID vaccinations are now recommended for children aged 6 months through 5 years old. Vaccinations are available for children in this age group at most pediatricians office, so please reach out to your child(ren)’s doctor with questions and to schedule an appointment for a vaccination. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent COVID infection and serious illness. If you haven’t yet been fully vaccinated and boosted, please do so now. People who are immuno-compromised and/or over age 50 should also get a second booster shot. You can find more information about COVID vaccines for children and COVID vaccines in general on the Vermont Department of Health website.

Middlebury Pride
This past Saturday, the Town of Middlebury celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride Month with its very first Pride Parade, organized by the kids and staff at Addison Central Teens with support from the youth librarians at Ilsley Public Library. The parade ran from College Park to the Town Green, where giant bubbles, kids’ activities, and a local teen band greeted the dozens and dozens of participants. It was great to be there to support my kids, all kids, friends, and constituents. See my Instagram page for more photos of the event.

Pride Month is a good time to highlight the important resolution supporting transgender youth and their parents that the Vermont Senate passed unanimously in the wake of numerous discriminatory and dangerous actions in other states, and incidents of violence and harassment against transgender people in Vermont. I had the honor of reporting on the resolution on the Senate floor, which begins: “Vermont recognizes the importance of letting transgender youth know that they are seen and valued for who they are, protected from stigmatizing policies that jeopardize their health and well-being, and supported by a community that wants to see them thrive.” We cannot allow bigotry and hate to prevent access to crucial healthcare or put vulnerable youth in harm’s way.

Last year, President Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, in remembrance of June 19, 1865, the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing enslaved African Americans, finally reached remote Galveston, Texas, two years after President Lincoln signed the Proclamation. The holiday has been celebrated in Black communities for generations, and has been more widely recognized in recent years as racial justice efforts have increased. The work of repairing the harm of slavery continues, even 157 years after the first Juneteenth. This November, Vermonters will vote on a constitutional amendment, P.R.2, that will strengthen and clarify the language that prohibits slavery in our state constitution. Vermont is often recognized as a state that outlawed slavery from its inception, but in fact, our constitution technically continues to allow enslavement of people under age 21, and indentured servitude for debt payment at any age. The amendment will clearly state that “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.” The important work of raising awareness about this amendment will continue through Election Day in November.

A Day for Dads and a Trek for Childcare
This past Sunday was Fathers Day. I hope all the dads out there had a chance to celebrate their special day. While many people think of access to childcare as a “mom issue,” it is every bit as much a “dad issue.” Access to affordable, high-quality childcare is crucial to the well-being of children and the financial security of families and employers. This past weekend, a local dad/grand-dad completed a year-long campaign to bring attention to the importance of childcare. Read about Randy Crossman’s 365 treks up Pico Mountain in support of Building Bright Futures (and donate to his effort if you can). As the Senate appointee to the Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council, which is charged with “issuing recommendations and increasing coordination & collaboration to advance a more connected, integrated & evolving early childhood system,” I appreciate Randy’s effort and am working to ensure that all dads and their kids have access to high-quality, affordable childcare.

Finally, congratulations to all of the kids who graduated from high school this month (including my daughter)! You can see photos and read about local graduates from Mount Abe, Middlebury, Vergennes, and Otter Valley high schools in the Addison Independent. It’s been an extremely difficult few years for high schoolers during the pandemic; the Class of 2022 had only one pre-pandemic, “normal” year of high school. So graduates, kudos for your flexibility and perseverance, and best of luck with your future adventures!