Another busy week at the statehouse and around the district! We want to thank the Fairfax Select Board for holding a joint meeting on Monday, February 13th. It was great to sit down with the board to discuss the issues facing the town. While rural, Fairfax has often not qualified for aid and grants due to the status of the town with over 5,000 residents. We need to make sure that we take into consideration smaller rural towns like Fairfax and Georgia, when we discuss the housing crisis. Governor Scott has spoken on this issue many times this session and we look forward to working with him to ensure that towns like Fairfax and Georgia are not forgotten.
Upcoming Legislative Breakfast
Don’t forget the legislative breakfast at the Georgia Fire Department on route 7 in Georgia, February 18, 8 am until 9:30 am!
Ways and Means Update
In the Ways and Means Committee we heard testimony and reports on school budget proposals for Town Meeting Day vote, revenue sources for school meals, Judiciary fees, Secretary of State office fees, transportation fees, and other concerns including a proposal to divide non-homestead property listed on the grand list into descriptions like agricultural land, wetlands, non tillable land, rental, property etc.
Update from State Treasurer Mike Pieciak
In addition, the State Treasurer appeared before the committee and updated us on the status of the Treasurer’s office and functions.
Treasurer Michael Pieciak reported on the basics. There are 36 employees in the Treasurer’s office and they invest State funds, issue all State Bonds and serve as a central bank for the state agencies.
The treasurer’s office safeguards and returns unclaimed or abandoned financial property. The office also administers the State, Teachers’ and Municipal defined benefit plans, deferred compensation plans and defined contribution plans for state employees and participating municipalities. This was a lot of information to take in and we look forward to seeing Treasurer Pieciak soon.
Did you know?
In 2022, the Treasurer’s Office paid out over 15,000 claims totaling over $5.3 million that went back into the pockets of Vermonters – with the average claim being just over $400.
Unclaimed property is money and other property that has been turned over to the Treasurer’s Office. Common examples are forgotten bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, unpaid life insurance benefits, security deposits or uncashed checks.
It only takes a moment to search and see if you have any unclaimed property in your name.
Questions? Send an email to email@example.com or call (802) 828-2407 or (800) 642-3191 (toll-free in Vermont only). The team at the Treasurer’s Office is always happy to assist you.
General & Housing Update
The Committee Chair, Rep. Tom Stevens, has indicated he would like to vote on Paid Family Leave out of our committee this week. We have taken substantial testimony on the legislation and there remains to be many questions yet to be answered. The conversation has been spirited, but respectful.
We heard from Governor Phil Scott’s team who have given us a run down on the voluntary Paid Family Leave program they are rolling out. That program does not come with an additional payroll tax as the current legislation would require. We are still of the mindset that it is best to pause and see how that program works, what percent of Vermonters choose to opt-in, and learn from it before we require every Vermonter, regardless of income, to enroll in the proposed paid family leave program.
As a reminder, this proposal is offering 12-weeks of leave at 100% wage replacement, up to the state’s average weekly wage of $1,135, that can be used yearly. The system would be funded by a 0.58% payroll tax split evenly between the employer and employee.
There are 9 Democrats and 3 Republicans on this committee, so it will leave the committee this week. It is unclear where the legislation will go once it leaves General & Housing.
Ashley Bartley Statement on Childcare
On Thursday, February 9th, Rep. Bartley released the following statement on social media:
Today, H.208, “An act relating to child care and early childhood education” was released for Introduction in the House. I joined three other Republicans, including my seatmate Rep. Carolyn Branagan, in sponsoring the legislation. There are similar
if not identical bills being drafted or in the Senate; including a proposal by my Republican colleagues; which I will sponsor as well.
While this bill is not perfect, I remain committed to the conversation and will be a part of the process in finding meaningful solutions to address the child care crisis. I must reiterate this is not a partisan issue. This is a Vermont working families issue and we cannot afford to play politics. When I ran for the Vermont House of Representatives, one of my major themes was fixing the broken Child Care system, and I intend to do just that.
Happy Valentines Day!