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Vermont House and Senate adjourn the biennium

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley
The Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier (file)

The Vermont Legislature has adjourned its biennium. It was a session that for a time was held virtually but ended with lawmakers back at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

The Vermont House ended its session early Thursday evening after casting a final vote on the $8 billion state budget and sending the fiscal plan to the governor. Traditionally House and Senate leadership comment before members depart for the summer.

Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski reflected on the session’s challenges and accomplishments.

“When I banged the gavel in this year I outlined a list of priorities I hoped we could execute on and acknowledged that it would be a heavy lift,” Krowinski said. “Our work to stabilize and protect our public pension system is something that I will never forget. We continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to combat our housing crisis. Our investments in broadband, water quality and climate change were historic. Work across party lines was key to our success.”

The issues the House Speaker outlined were echoed in the Senate Chamber, which had adjourned Thursday prior to the House. Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, who presides over the Senate, will not return as she is running for the state’s sole Congressional seat. The Democrat highlighted some of the legislation she saw pass during her term in office.

“I’ve heard and witnessed critical steps to protect the reproductive autonomy of every Vermonter, now set for voters in November,” Gray said. “I’ve heard and witnessed an important compromise that extended the waiting periods for background checks for firearm purchases; the passage of an historic transportation bill that includes unprecedented funding for electric vehicles and a lot of good infrastructure. And of course a lot about the budget.”

Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint noted that she, Gray and Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale are running against each other in the Democratic primary for Congress.

“The Senators have all been watching as three people in here are rivals outside of this chamber, but not rivals here,” Balint said. “And the Lieutenant Governor and I said we may be rivals outside but in here we’re allies. And I am so grateful that we’ve put the policy and the protocol before any of the politics.”

Balint was first elected to the state Senate in 2014 and became emotional during her speech.

“This has been the greatest honor of my life to serve in this chamber with all of you,” Balint said. “You work so many more hours than people could ever imagine. We have done our work with so much grit and courage and commitment and with a deep and abiding respect and love for Vermonters.”

Republican Governor Phil Scott was escorted into each chamber to deliver remarks after each body adjourned. His comments focused on investments in projects he outlined in January.

"With an $8 billion budget, we’ve made investments that will move us further towards a Vermont that can keep and create good jobs, build affordable homes, and support communities across the state. A state where all kids are getting the best education, where families keep more of what they earn, and where we get closer to having a healthy and vibrant economy in all 14 counties. That’s the vision I outlined in January, and we took some big steps towards reaching it this year.”

All members of the Vermont Legislature are up for election this year. A number have decided not to run for re-election or are pursuing other offices.

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