It’s hard to know where to start, given the outrageous and unforgivable acts served up by our new presidential administration over the last week. From cutting off access to reproductive healthcare worldwide to banning refugees from entering the country, they have shown no mercy or respect for basic human rights. The work that we are doing together in state and local government feels more important than ever. I am committed to working hard for progressive policy that benefits Vermonters, while raising my voice against hateful and hurtful national mandates.
- A long-awaited report evaluating Burlington’s inclusionary zoning ordinance is out and will be presented to the Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization committee this Tuesday, January 31st at 6 p.m. in Contois Auditorium at City Hall. Come find out how inclusionary zoning has helped boost socio-economic integration in Burlington over a period of 30 years. Share your thoughts on increasing access to affordable housing in the Queen City.
- Discussion on Burlington’s practices with regards to immigrants and its status as a “sanctuary city” continues despite the recent executive order, says City Council President Jane Knodell. A council subcommittee continues to meet on this issue, and the Burlington police commission is reviewing a local implementation of Vermont’s Fair and Impartial Policing Policy with input from racial justice advocates, Migrant Justice, the ACLU and others.
- The council is working on a final development agreement for the Burlington Town Center. I’ll be pushing for maximum community benefits, such as employment opportunities and housing that is accessible to the broadest array of Burlington residents.
• Governor Scott’s budget address shocked Vermonters this past week, as he suggested level-funding local school budgets via a special election on May 23rd, while requiring teachers to pay more for healthcare benefits. This would result in an estimated 3 million dollars of staffing cuts to Burlington’s carefully planned FY 2018 budget and $10,000 worth of special election costs. More details of the proposal can be found here. If you’re concerned about Governor Scott’s proposal to eliminate local control of school budgets and what it means for Burlington, please speak up and contact him.
• Last week I introduced my first bill. It’s a bold proposal to combat opiate addiction by adding safer consumption sites to Vermont’s harm reduction toolkit. While the idea is understandably unsettling, it’s been proven to reduce deaths, get more people into treatment and cut down on discarded needles and public drug use, without increasing crime. We owe it to the many Vermonters and their loved ones affected by opiate addiction to strongly commit to results-based approaches that save lives.
• I’m proud to be a co-signer on paid family leave and $15 an hour minimum wage bills this session. In Burlington, city council approved a town meeting day question that will let voters weigh in via an advisory question to the legislature on a $15 an hour minimum wage. Let your voice be heard in support of working Vermonters!
• I was elected as Clerk of the Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of representatives, senators and advocates who meet every Tuesday at noon in Room 10 of the statehouse. Please join us if you’re interested in learning more, and follow VT Climate Caucus on Facebook for updates.
Continue speaking out against discriminatory immigration and refugee policies:
- March and Speak Out Against Deportations, Tuesday, 1/31/17, 6 p.m., City Hall Park (Burlington)
- Rise Up and Stand Up! Solidarity Vigil with our Muslim and Refugee Communities, Wednesday, 2/1/2017, Vermont State House (Montpelier)
- Amnesty International Vermont’s State Meeting and Social, Saturday, 2/4/2017, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m., Waterman Building, UVM (Burlington)
Many white Vermonters, including myself, need to recognize the bias and hatred that’s already present and directed at people of color in our communities. Let’s do the hard work of acknowledging privilege and dismantling racism in our own lives, and get involved in one or more of the numerous organizations working for racial justice in Vermont:
- Black Lives Matter VT
- Champlain Valley NAACP
- Showing Up for Racial Justice
- Justice for All
Standing up with so many of you over the last week and a half has given me a lot of hope. Injustice didn’t start with Trump, but I hope we are waking up to our collective power. Keep loving, keep fighting. Together we win!