Most of the action this past week in Montpelier took place in the committee rooms where testimony was heard on various bills ranging from student weighting formulas for education finance, to budget adjustment and updating act 250. The big exception was Wednesday when the House attempted to override the governor’s veto of the Paid Family Leave bill.
As Vermont tries to lure people to move here it is increasingly critical that we make it so that people don’t have to choose between caring for a sick child or elderly parent, and losing their livelihood. This was a program that the House passed last year, (I voted “yes”) but the Senate weakened so much that when the final compromise came back from the conference committee I voted “no” in an unsuccessful attempt to send it back to a conference committee for improvement. The House and Senate both approved the compromise by large margins and sent it to the Governor who vetoed it.
The Unites States is one of the few countries on earth that doesn’t provide a national paid maternity leave as a cornerstone support. Although I do not like the details of this bill I do believe that something is better than nothing and supported the override attempt. That margin of error proved critical and by a vote of 99-51 the attempt failed so there will be no family leave program this year.
The following day, a non-controversial Commerce Committee bill was approved which includes a bill of mine sparked by a specific event in our district, addressing the gap as unemployed Vermonters work toward self-employment. The legislative process is too slow to help the original family, but hopefully others can now avoid the same pitfalls.
I will be meeting with constituents on Saturday, February 15 in the Pawlet Library 11:00-noon, and in the Wells Library from 1:00-2:00. You determine the agenda — come on by.
Please contact me with opinions, questions, and concerns.