Editorial, Legislative Report

Seven Bills Considered to End Session

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CRAFTSBURY – On June 17, the Vermont legislature met to consider seven bills that were vetoed by Governor Scott at the end of the session.
While I carry the label of Democrat, I represent a politically diverse district which means I don’t always vote in alignment with the party. In our district, every topic invites a range of perspectives and each resident shares unique insight. I vote yes on policies that I think make life better for people in our communities. I speak up and vote no on policies that don’t.
I voted yes on H.687, the historic Act 250 modernization bill, which will reduce regulatory barriers to creating new housing so that every town has the opportunity to grow. I also voted yes on H.121, the Data Privacy bill that enhances consumer privacy and sets strict guidelines to prevent physical, financial, or emotional harm to kids.
H.887, the yield bill, sets annual property tax rates to support education. While schools in our district do need support, residents should not be drowning in property taxes. Estimated increases in our region are lower than the state’s average 13.8% increase but I voted no because 1) Vermonters can’t afford the double-digit property tax increase and 2) the bill lacks structural reforms and cost containment measures.
H.72 creates a pilot Overdose Prevention Center in Burlington funded by opioid settlement funds. I voted yes because this approach is shown to reduce deaths and harm associated with substance use disorder by preventing overdose, delivering evidence-based services, and connecting people with treatment providers. I also voted yes on H.645, which expands statewide access to restorative justice, an approach to addressing crime, repairing harm, and rebuilding trust in communities that is shown to reduce costs and increase public safety.
H.289 updates Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard by requiring electric utilities to use 100% renewable energy by 2030 and increase the amount of new renewables to be built in the state. While I support a transition away from fossil fuels, I voted no because I’m concerned that the bill will increase Vermonters’ utility rates by an estimated $150 million to $450 million over the next 10 years.
H.706 bans the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. After talking with local dairy farmers and hearing their concerns about the availability of untreated seed, the potential impact on crop yields and production costs, and the short timeline to make the transition, I voted no.
With the exception of the data privacy bill, each of these bills ultimately passed which means we still have work to do to ensure people can afford to raise families, operate businesses and retire in our towns. In order to get there, we must bridge political divides and collaborate across parties to find affordable solutions that work for all of us.
It is vital that you keep asking questions, sharing feedback, and connecting with your representatives on the issues that matter to you. And I will keep listening, learning, and speaking up on behalf of our communities.

Rep. Katherine Sims is a candidate for State Senate, Orleans District.

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