Now that H.926, an act relating to changes to Act 250, has been vetoed by the governor, what should the Senate do next? What reform of Vermont’s land use laws and regulations, if any, is still needed?
“As Governor Scott noted in his veto message, nothing in the legislation would have modernized or improved the Act 250 process. The forest fragmentation provisions would have added a new, complex criteria to the statute, placing new restrictions on use of private property.
“The legislature should go back to the drawing board, in collaboration with the Scott Administration, to come up with a sensible proposal that would encourage sorely-needed economic development statewide, not just in downtowns, while protecting Vermont’s rural landscape.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that access to the internet is now a near necessity for school and work. What can the Senate do to provide increased broadband access to rural and low-income Vermonters?
“Approximately 23 percent of the state, or 70,000 homes and businesses, do not have access to high-speed internet services.
“The Vermont Department of Public Service’s proposed Emergency Broadband Action Plan will go a long way towards providing broadband internet service to everyone in the state. The plan provides:
- measures to improve broadband accessibility, including affordable internet access to persons in unserved locations during COVID and grants to carriers to extend service to unserved addresses.
- a path to achieving universal broadband by 2024 using a reverse auction model including financial support for communications union districts (CUDs).”
How can the state government make housing in Chittenden County, and across the state, more affordable?
“In Vermont, the median-priced house costs 3.8 times median household income, which ranks Vermont 12th-highest in the nation. We need to relax regulation and zoning restrictions at the state and local level to make it less expensive to build new, affordable housing.”
S.54, an act that proposes a system for the regulation and sale of cannabis in Vermont, currently sits on the governor's desk awaiting approval. Did you vote, or would you have voted for the bill? Please explain.
“As the cannabis bill was recently passed into law, we should follow Governor Scott’s direction to fund youth education and prevention programs, highway safety, and allow communities the option to prohibit retail businesses.
“We also need to learn from other states that have commercialized cannabis and understand negative side-effects. The law may need adjusting to address the potential for the negative effects on health systems, similar to what has happened with tobacco and alcohol, and potential negative effects on increased drug use, short- and long- term mental and physical health, a black market, and drop in business productivity.”
Other than the four issues asked about here, what else do you think is a priority for the legislature to address and why?
“Vermont consistently ranks in the bottom 15 percent of all states for business climate. The legislature appears to be very silent on promoting a business-friendly climate that, in turn, helps sustain, grow and attract businesses. Businesses provide jobs and the engine which then create a tax base.
“We need more focus on helping reduce the burden on businesses and working people and significantly-less focus on taxes and regulations. We need to support our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, overall public safety and addressing the $4.5 billion pension debt.”