Happy New Year! This past week, the 2023 Vermont legislative session began at the State House in Montpelier. On Wednesday, legislators were sworn in, including 10 new senators and 50 new representatives. On Thursday, statewide officials were sworn in, including a new State Treasurer, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. On Friday, legislators began meeting in our new committees with 12 new committee chairs participating in an afternoon training session. In contrast to the chaos in Washington, the transition of power was smooth and respectful, and now we’re ready to get to work for Vermonters.
I am honored to serve as the new Chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee, which has jurisdiction over a broad array of areas concerning how government operates at the state and local level. With this new role, I am eager to work with: our new Secretary of State and town clerks to ensure access to fundamental voting rights; our new Treasurer and public employee unions to ensure the pensions and benefits of public employees remain secure; county government officials to oversee the ethical and efficient operation of regional law enforcement; municipal officials to see that our towns have the resources and flexibility to maintain safe, equitable, vibrant, and sustainable communities; state officials to be sure state agencies and departments operate transparently and effectively for Vermonters. It’s a new committee for me, so I’m most eager to learn all that I can about this important area. I believe that government should work for everyone, regardless of where they live or who they are; with this new leadership position, I want to help ensure that it does.
I am also returning to the Health and Welfare Committee where I’m especially looking forward to working on legislation to improve and expand early childhood education and childcare. During the off-session, I collaborated with a core group of legislators to draft a comprehensive bill to address the childcare crisis in Vermont. In addition, I’ll be the lead sponsor on nearly two dozen bills addressing a range of topics from protecting abortion & gender-affirming healthcare, sheriff office reforms, gun safety, voting, public schools, health care access, and more. It will be a busy session and I’m excited to get to work!
With new committee assignments this session, the Addison County Legislative Delegation now includes five committee chairs and two vice chairs, including Rep. Diane Lanpher and Rep. Robin Scheu as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. I am thrilled to be among this terrific group of legislative leaders. The photo above includes, from left to right: me (Chair, Government Operations), Rep Birong (Vice Chair, Government Operations), Rep Conlon (Chair, Education), Rep Scheu (Vice Chair, Appropriations), Rep Lanpher (Chair, Appropriations), Rep Sheldon (Chair, Environment & Energy), Sen Bray (Chair, Natural Resources & Energy).
To see more photos of this past week, and throughout the session, check out my Instagram where I post updates several times per week. With an expanded assignment and no staff assistance, I’ll do my best to communicate with you during this busy session, but it may take time to get back to you. For now, I’m eager to get to work! Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2023.