The 2019 legislative session began at 10 a.m. this past Wednesday, Jan. 9, with the swearing in of 148 members of the House, the election of the speaker, and the announcement of committee assignments. Rep. Mitzi Johnson of South Hero was unanimously elected speaker after her nomination by a Democrat was seconded by a Republican.
She acknowledged the responsibility of the Democratic majority to work with the input of the minority Republicans and Progressives for the good of all Vermonters, and she expressed the hope that the legislature can work more collaboratively with the governor during this session.
Day two saw the swearing in of the statewide elected officials and the inauguration of the governor with the General Assembly of the House and Senate meeting in a joint session. In his inaugural speech, Gov. Phil Scott noted that Vermonters can be proud to live in a state where we can solve problems with civility despite our differences. This character, he said, is rooted in the good that comes from our communities and the good in our hearts and minds.
Regarding the economy, he urged us to work together for a prosperous state, a quality educational system, and to provide our neighbors with what they need most when they need it the most. To reverse our population decline, we need to do a better job of advertising the qualities of Vermont as well as provide more affordable housing and access to child care.
He spoke of the need for clean water, funding our pension systems, and growing our working population. However, I was disappointed that that the governor did not mention the need to address climate change, a global problem which requires global participation, including ours.
Our first week also included training sessions on sexual harassment, physical security and cyber security – problems that are much too prevalent in today’s society.
We also had time to meet our 40 new legislators as well as renew acquaintances with returning members. I was reappointed to the Energy and Technology Committee, which now has nine members, including two freshman. Only three members of the committee were held over from the last session. All of the 14 committees in the House post their ongoing activities, including bills assigned to the committee and documents presented in testimony before the committee, on the committee websites, which can be found at legislature.vermont.gov/committee/list/2020/House-Standing#House-Standing.
During this session, I plan to hold several constituent meetings for anyone who wants to talk to me personally. The first one will be this Saturday, Jan. 19, from 10 a.m. until noon at the Charlotte Library. Drop by for a chat. I will also be at the Charlotte Senior Center for the Monday lunch at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 21.
Of course, I welcome your emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone calls (802-233-5238) as well. This column and others can be found at my website MikeYantachka.com.
Democrat Mike Yantachka represents Charlotte and part of Hinesburg in the Vermont House of Representatives.