By REP. DYLAN GIAMBATISTA
Vermont’s 2019 legislative session began on January 9. I was honored to take the oath of office to start my second term representing the Village of Essex Jct. The November election caused major changes in the makeup of the State House, with an unusually high number of new citizen lawmakers elected to their first terms. New faces, coupled with federal uncertainty and a partial government shutdown, are the backdrop as Vermont’s 2nd-term governor, House speaker and Senate pro tem start the new year.
The first weeks of the legislative session are a time of adjustment when Vermont’s 150 representatives and 30 state senators get organized and begin new committee assignments. I was pleased to be reassigned to the House Education Committee and was excited to see that our five-member Essex House delegation landed on committees of significant importance. All told, Essex representatives cover policy areas that span the state budget, health care, human services, economic development and education.
The first year of Vermont’s legislative session typically lasts about 18 weeks. That puts us on track to finish our work sometime in mid-May, around the time we begin to see green grass and spring flowers. I’m hopeful that we can work to find consensus on the big issues facing our little state.
For my part, I’ve introduced two pieces of legislation so far this session, a bill to protect our environment and a bill to address bias and harassment in our education system. H.9 proposes to create a “Be a Water Champ” license plate to raise awareness of, and funds for, cleaning up our polluted waterways. I am hopeful this bill will kickstart the conversation about how we address lake pollution and protect the $2.5 billion tourism generates for Vermont annually. H.3 proposes a collaborative process to review how we can integrate curriculum that represents people and groups who have been historically marginalized. This legislation has broad support and is the first step in a process that we hope will reduce bias, harassment, and disproportionate patterns of discipline of students from non-dominant social groups in Vermont schools.
Many, many bills are introduced each year. You can follow updates about the session in weekly updates in the Essex Reporter, through Front Porch Forum posts and at forums we hold for community members. Our next community meeting will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe. Join us!
You can also always reach me for updates by visiting my website, www.vtdylan.com, following my Twitter and Facebook pages, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep in touch and let me know where you stand on the issues. I look forward to seeing you soon.