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Vermont Legislature begins second half of biennium

Vermont Statehouse August 26, 2023
Pat Bradley
Vermont Statehouse August 26, 2023

The Vermont Legislature returned today for the second half of its biennium.

“Will the House please come to order and members kindly take their seats,” requests House Speaker Jill Krowinski.

More than 100 bills were formally introduced in the House and assigned to committees on the first day back in Montpelier. As proceedings in that chamber began, Democratic Speaker Jill Krowinski told members that Vermonters are relying on the legislature to find solutions to a number of challenges.

“We must hold ourselves and state government accountable to the promises we made to Vermonters," Krowinski stated. "The historic amount of federal aid is coming to an end. We must take stock of the programs that we funded. There are many challenges before us. We cannot afford to leave this session without taking meaningful action. I know that you all will rise to the occasion and face these challenges head on. Let's hunker down and let's get to work.”

Krowinski also noted that climate change is disrupting Vermonters’ lives and they must use legislation to lead to greater resiliency.

“This year we've weathered multiple catastrophic floods that forced families from their homes, destroyed businesses and left in its wake over a billion dollars in losses," the Speaker said. "Vermonters are remarkably resilient in the face of adversity, but they are counting on us to take bold action. They are counting on us to pass legislation for the storms that we have weathered and for the storms yet to come. Our economy hinges on a healthy climate. We must enact policies that build resiliency and sustainability into every corner of the state.”

In the Senate, Democrat/Progressive Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman presided over the opening of the session.

“I hereby open the 2024 adjourned session of the Senate and call the Senate to order.”

Pro-Tem Phil Baruth, a Democrat/Progressive, told state Senators that he always feels a sense of common strength in the chamber and it’s something that will be needed throughout the session.

“The off session was not a normal off session," noted Baruth. "As you know, we had emergencies of various kinds around the state from flooding to public safety to the opioid epidemic, which is very much still with us. So our range of choices are going to be a little narrower this year than they were last year. And yet, we're going to have to think bigger. We're going to have to dig deeper. And we're going to have to balance the budget which we always do. So our challenges are going to be tougher. We're going to have to work harder. But I have every faith that we can handle these things.”

Republican Governor Phil Scott is scheduled to deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at 2 p.m. Thursday.

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