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Different perspectives on Statehouse work as Vermont Legislature adjourns

Vermont Statehouse August 26, 2023
Pat Bradley
Vermont Statehouse (file)

The Vermont Legislature adjourned its 77th biennium over the weekend. Legislators worked into the early hours Saturday morning to complete their business for the year.

The Vermont Senate finished its work at about 1:20 in the morning followed by the House just after 2 a.m. House Speaker Democrat Jill Krowinski:

“We made it!”

The session was rife with disputes over affordability, addressing the housing crisis and efforts to deal with a property tax increase initially projected to be at least 18.5 percent.

During the traditional legislative leaders’ comments, Republican Senate minority leader Randy Brock from the Franklin District offered scathing sarcasm over the session’s work.

“We achieved results that I could never have envisioned,” Brock said. “We now have a state mushroom. And I am especially proud that we have created a new class of fast-growing jobs making study committee appointees the fifth largest occupation in Vermont. I’m sure Vermonters, our constituents, will be amazed when they learn how attuned we’ve been to their needs. They will recognize how well we’ve done in making Vermont more affordable; how we’ve created fast, easy to use solutions to the housing crisis; how we’ve implemented lasting measures to finally fix education funding and most Vermonters will be happy that we have tamed the property problem by limiting this year’s increase to only double digits.”

In the House Windham County Democratic Majority Leader Emily Long was more sanguine about legislators’ efforts during the biennium.

“This legislative session felt different for most of us,” Long said. “The pace of our work was faster and more intense than normal. We have had many successes this session. We updated our renewable energy standard, took significant steps to strengthen our education system and modernized Act 250. We’ve invested in housing, flood resiliency, climate, health and public safety. We even passed landmark legislation to protect Vermonters’ consumer privacy.”

Democratic Speaker Krowinski noted that at the beginning of the biennium she had emphasized the importance of charting a path forward that would leave no Vermonter behind and to be the catalyst for meaningful change.

“We made tremendous progress in service to that responsibility,” noted Krowinski. “We made historic investments in the judicial system and establishing a pilot program for overdose prevention centers to save lives and support communities. We continue to make investments in affordable housing. We passed legislation increasing our green energy production and hold ourselves accountable to a renewable energy standard that will make nearly all of our utilities 100 percent renewable by 2030. We fund more than $40 million in flood recovery. That’s what it looks like to follow through on our word.”

Following the leaders’ remarks, Republican Governor Phil Scott addressed each chamber. His comments to each were largely the same and he told legislators that while they may have similar goals, they differ on how to accomplish them.

“The work done in this building impacts Vermonters in every corner of our state whether they voted for us or not,” asserted Scott. “And it gives us an opportunity to make a real difference especially when we work together. I think most of us want the same thing: vibrant neighborhoods, healthy and safe kids filling classrooms and reaching their fullest potential, great jobs with solid employers and a thriving growing economy. We just have a different vision on how to get there.”

When Scott’s speech was over, Progressive Lieutenant Governor and Senate President David Zuckerman closed the session.

“You have voted to adjourn sine die pursuant to the provisions of JRS 56.”

The Vermont legislature is expected to return to the State House on June 17th for a planned veto session.

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