PRIORITIES

My Approach

Over four decades I have developed a keen interest and expertise in the areas of housing, workforce development, criminal justice reform, substance use, and social equity. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have focused on these issues and how well our systems address and fund them.

The priorities below reflect my own experience and what I have learned through conversations and study. My positions are not immutable; indeed, I’ve found that the primary difference between being an advocate and serving as a legislator is my responsibility to remain curious and open – sometimes despite what I think I know. That helps to build trust, foster conversation, and is critical to forward movement.

 

There’s no argument that Vermont is facing a statewide housing crisis. Thanks to federal COVID relief, we’ve made historic investments in housing totaling over $350 million. 

But it is not enough and federal funding has dried up. To make a real difference in expanding housing stock – particularly housing that is affordable to vulnerable Vermonters – we must continue the work we did this year to pass Act 250 reform AND commit to the long-term investment it will take.

This session, housing advocates, developers and financers, led by Champlain Housing Trust, laid out  a transformative ten-year plan to house Vermont’s most vulnerable residents. The model calls for 300 new shelter or other beds for unhoused individuals and families, 7,500 additional homes and apartments of varying types, eviction prevention resources, and social services that these vulnerable Vermonters need. The model was incorporated into H.829, which passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate. I support the goals of H.829 and will work hard to support its new iteration in the coming session.

In addition, I will work to:

    • Ensure that housing development and conservation be prioritized and receive its full statutory share of state property transfer tax revenues
    • Expand access to recovery housing for people exiting in-patient substance addiction treatment, including housing for individuals with children
    • Fund and incentivize repairs and improvements in housing for agricultural workers
    • Pursue additional changes in zoning to promote greater density in Vermont towns and villages
    • Limit the conditions under which renters can be evicted for “no cause”

Far too many struggle to meet basic expenses. I support numerous strategies to reduce out of pocket costs and strengthen the economic status of Vermonters, among them:

  • Continuing our efforts to make child care accessible and pay early care educators a livable wage
  • Supporting the 802 Opportunity initiative and other state higher education programs that make a college degree broadly affordable
  • Reducing double-digit property tax increases through changes in education financing
  • Passing paid family leave
  • Prioritizing state workforce training initiatives that nurture and promote existing local talent
  • Creating workforce housing

In the coming session I will also support the right of workers to organize, prohibit bans on future employment with employees who file harassment complaints, and further expand Medicare coverage as we did this session to increase eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program.

As a white Vermonter, I have worked to recognize and confront racism and to show up for BIPOC community members. Over the past four years I have consistently supported  legislation related to equity, including:

In the coming session, I will also work to:

  • Strengthen the above initiatives with continued financial support
  • Expand the capacity of women- and BIPOC-owned businesses 
  • Increase staffing at the state Human Rights Commission to meet increasing demand for its education and legal services
  • Weigh all legislation and budget decisions through an equity lens

 

 

I have voted to pass a number of bills to reduce crime in our communities. These measures support prevention and alternatives to criminalization, strengthen our judicial capacity, and tweak criminal law to address emerging public safety issues.

I have been proud to support bills that:

  • Create a path to accountability – or pre-trial diversion – before alleged offenders enter the criminal justice system for low-level crimes
  • Invest over $7M to expand court staffing to reduce significant court backlogs
  • Close a gap in existing statute that doesn’t prohibit a person from entering another person’s car without consent
  • Increase the penalties for repeated retail theft
  • Establish a pre-trial supervision program that reduces our reliance on prison while people await trial
  • Adds xylazine to the list of regulated drugs

    In the coming session, I will work to strengthen gun safety. We need open-carry laws and we need to bar the ownership and use of assault style weapons. Vermont has made progress in this area, but not to the degree that is needed. 

     

     

     

     

    Over the past four years, the legislature has passed critical legislation to improve water quality, remove environmental toxins, reduce carbon emissions, and mitigate the impact of climate change.

    I am proud to have voted to:

    • Pass a renewable energy standard that moves Vermonters off of imported fossil fuels 
    • Create a Climate Superfund supported by the largest polluters that have contributed to climate change damage inVermont
    • Expand prohibitions on the sale of goods that contain PFAS and other toxic chemicals
    • Increase funding to towns to manage development in river corridors and floodplains and expand wetlands protections
    • Finance dam removal and repair
    • Phase out the use of neonicotinoids, insecticides that are extremely harmful to honey bees and other pollinators.

    There’s far more work to do, especially improving water quality and ensuring that rural, BIPOC, and low-income communities benefit from our transition from fossil fuels.