The Vermont Legislature convened this week to begin a new biennium. A new House Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and Senate Pro Tem, all women, have been sworn in over the past two days.
The Vermont Legislature began its session on Wednesday. One of the House chamber’s first duties was to elect a new speaker. Only one person was nominated: Chittenden County Democrat Jill Krowinski, who has been in the legislature since 2012 and been majority leader since 2017. During her inaugural speech she said the state’s response to the coronavirus will be the focus of the legislative session. “This virus has demonstrated the gaps in services Vermonters rely on. Whether its access to broadband, child care or housing or mental health supports we’ve seen too many Vermonters struggling to balance their needs. The responsibility before all of us is to provide our constituents with the support they need right now. We must chart a path forward and it must be on a course that leaves no one behind.”
Also on Wednesday state Senators formally approved Windham County Senator Becca Balint to serve as the Pro-Tem. She explains why she reflected on the words of Hans Rosling during her inaugural speech. “He said I’m always looking for what’s possible and I’m looking for progress. It makes me a believer in the ability for all of us to continue to do good work. And I think sometimes in the legislature you can feel the weight so deeply that it feels like no matter what we do is not going to be enough to soothe the anxieties of our constituents. That’s a really terrible feeling. And so what I wanted them to do is to remember that we can do more creative thinking, we can do more expansive thinking, if we approach the session looking for possibility.”
Democrat Molly Gray was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor Thursday morning. She recognized Vermonters who have died due to the pandemic and acknowledged the attack on the U.S. Capitol. “I commend our governor for his leadership last evening in calling for the resignation of President Trump or that he be removed from office by his Cabinet or Congress. If there was ever a time in Vermont’s history that our values are so needed in Washington it is today. Our thoughts however must be here in this space and time and moment.”
During a virtual joint session of the Vermont Legislature Thursday afternoon, Governor Phil Scott spoke for about 10 minutes, telling legislators they were elected with a clear mandate for practical, principled and cooperative government and that they must set priorities that will help Vermonters in all 14 counties.