Vermont Legislative Session Begins: Here's What You Need To Know
Here's what issues are top of mind as the legislative session begins, and what's planned for the opening days.
Issues we're watching
In the weeks leading up to this session, House and Senate leaders have outlined some priorities for 2018. Recently on Vermont Edition, Gov. Phil Scott discussed his priorities for the upcoming session.
Here are a few of the issues we're keeping a close eye on as the session gets underway:
- Minimum wage: Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe says it's a "personal priority" to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but there's already been some pushback from Republicans.
- Health care: A group of lawmakers plan to consider public funding for universal primary care.
- New federal tax law: There is some uncertainty about how the new federal tax law may impact Vermont's revenue projections.
- Teacher health benefits: It was a major source of debate during last session, and a special commission has recently recommended a statewide contract for teacher health benefits.
- Sexual harassment: The House and Senate policies in place for investigating sexual misconduct allegations are under review, according to House and Senate leadership. There will be a presentation about the policy for senators on opening day.
- Clean energy proposals: The Senate Committee on Natural Resources will look at financial incentives for purchasing electric cars and expansion of the state's net-metering program.
- Property taxes: Statewide property tax rates are set to go up by 7 cents this year and lawmakers are under pressure to find solutions. Gov. Scott wants to reduce school spending.
- Funding water quality: Lawmakers will once again consider how to pay for a $1 billion clean water initiative; a decision they've deferred for several years.
Wednesday, Jan. 3
It's opening day for state politics in Vermont, as the gavel falls at 10 a.m. on a session that will likely involve an unusual number of weighty issues for the second half of a biennium.
Throughout the day you can listen live to the Vermont Senate stream and House stream, which are active when the Legislature is in session and the chamber microphones are turned on.
This morning, the Legislature returned for the 2018 session. We will focus this session on policies that make the Vermont dream accessible to everyone and keep Vermont on the path to a strong, healthy future. Full text of this morning's remarks:https://t.co/wEYXqpuMgr #vtpoli— Mitzi Johnson (@MitziJohnsonVT) January 3, 2018
Live at noon, Vermont Edition broadcasts from the Statehouse with a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in Montpelier. We'll talk to lawmakers, as well as Sergeant-at-Arms Janet Miller and a former Statehouse page.
Thursday, Jan. 4
At 2 p.m., Gov. Phil Scott will deliver his "State of the State" address. You can listen live on VPR or watch on Facebook live (thanks to Vermont PBS!)
Friday, Jan. 5
With so much happening in the capital, Vermont Edition will wrap up the week with a roundtable of local reporters to break down the major news and look ahead at what's to come this session. Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, it's the kickoff week, but we'll be covering Montpelier all session long; here's where you'll find our Vermont Legislature coverage online.
Looking to learn more about legislators? Want to look up a bill? Or curious what's on the agenda during the session? The Vermont General Assembly website is your go-to source for that information.
And finally, follow along with VPR's social media platforms, and send questions or comments about the Vermont Legislature our way when they pop into your head — whether it's this opening week or in the days beyond.