Local legislators learned their committee assignments last week during the kick off to the 2019 legislative session in Montpelier.
Rep. Dylan Giambatista (D) retained his spot on the Education Committee and was named one of three assistant majority leaders, a leadership role carrying a variety of new duties, like helping design a seating chart for freshman members who represent about a fourth of the body this year.
“I have more roles in organizing things, in ensuring the process on the floor is clean and tidy, and in working through the difficult process of negotiation and trying to refine the bills that come through the process so that they’re ready for primetime,” he said.
Rep. Linda Myers (R), entering her 19th year in the House, was surprised to learn she will be on the prestigious Appropriations Committee, tasked each year with drafting the state’s budget. Myers served her first 15 years on the Corrections and Institutions Committee before a two-year stint on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee last biennium.
Myers admitted the new assignment will be a “stretch” but the former Essex Reporter editor said she’s looking forward to the challenge. “For most of the time in my career … it’s been words. Now I’m going to deal with numbers,” she said.
Rep. Marybeth Redmond (D), Essex’s only freshman rep, was placed on the Human Services Committee, which she said was among her first choices because of its focus on ensuring “the most vulnerable Vermonters have laws and policies that support their dignity.”
Redmond said she’s “deeply honored” to be representing her community at the statehouse and recalled a “thrilling” first day, with her husband and 16-year-old son attending the swearing-in ceremony.
“I feel like every time I walk in and cross that threshold, I’m carrying the voices and concerns and positions of all of the folks of Essex whom I represent. I take it really seriously,” she said.
Rep. Lori Houghton (D), in her second term, will again serve on the Healthcare Committee, but this time as a ranking member, or the second highest Democrat. Houghton said she’d hoped to stay on that committee because she fully understands the process after two years.
She, too, will be tasked with more planning and prioritizing. She’ll be the liaison to Appropriations and will serve as a mentor to some of the newer members on the committee.
“I’m nervous, as I am every day when I step in that building, I must admit. But I think I’ll be able to step up to the plate,” she said.
And Rep. Bob Bancroft (R) – who represents part of Essex and all of Westford – will serve on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
“Essex is very well represented by its delegation,” Giambatista said. “If you look at the positions that each member holds, they span a number of policy areas and include the top issues that face the state.”