MINORITY LEADER DON TURNER

Last Tuesday morning when I arrived at the Statehouse, I was greeted by a woman who was there participating in a gun control rally. She got up close to my face and passionately stated the following: “You require my kids to go to school, so it is your responsibility to ensure their safety at school.” I could sense the fear in the woman’s voice.

I don’t think anyone can walk away from the events of the past week without recognizing the deeply felt need to respond constructively to these violent events.

The truth is, I don’t know how to ensure that kids will be safe when they go to school. I believe that we need to be coming together as a community to truly consider the many complex issues that contribute to these violent acts, not to just react in ways that are specific to the most recent incident. I do not feel that reacting in a narrow way without an opportunity to listen to constituents will provide the best results. Everyone needs to be open to ideas that move us closer to the immediate issue at hand: school safety. Constitutional rights, mental illness, gun control, domestic violence, history of violence and many more factors all have to be part of these conversations. I believe that each proposal needs to be considered on its own merits, not based on reaction to a single specific circumstance. I feel that many people are very anxious for that perceived security and mistakenly see every possible restriction as an answer. This is not the case. We all need to recognize that some proposals only create a false sense of security. We do need to have open conversations that put everything on the table, including looking at whether and where changes in our guns laws can make a difference.

I am committed to listening to the proposals that come before us in the Vermont legislature, and supporting those that offer real solutions. As a result, I have arranged for a public hearing at Milton High School auditorium on Tuesday, March 6 from 7-9 p.m. Speaker Mitzi Johnson, Reps. Ben Joseph, Chris Mattos and I will listen to your views on these important issues. I hope you will plan to attend.

Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to representing you in Montpelier.  Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments or concerns. I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. Thank you and have a great week.

REP. CHRIS MATTOS

The House Committee on Education passed out H.897 – An act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support. The purpose quoted from the bill: “This bill proposes to enhance the effectiveness, availability and equity of services provided to all students who require additional support in Vermont’s school districts, including students receiving special education services and students who need additional support but do not receive special education services. To support the delivery of these services, this bill also would change the funding model for special education from a reimbursement model to a census-based model, which provides more flexibility in how funding can be used, is aligned with the state’s policy priorities of serving students who require additional support across the general and special education service-delivery systems, and simplifies administration.” The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee, as there is some funding support involved.

In the wake of the recent tragic event in Florida and the threats in schools in our region, Reps. Don Turner, Mitzi Johnson, Ben Joseph and I have organized a public hearing March 6 from 7-9 p.m. in the MHS auditorium. We hope that you will join us in sharing your thoughts about school safety and the items Gov. Scott outlined in his recent press conference. We look forward to hearing from our community!

Please don’t forget to vote on March 6! There are numerous elections as well as school and town budget items on the ballot.

If you have any concerns, questions or comments, I would be happy to listen. Feel free to reach me by email at cmattos@leg.state.vt.us or by cell at 922-2059.