Town Meeting crunch time for committees

I am seeing how the depth of our work in Montpelier is done in committee. Each committee looks long and hard at issues that face them and then develops bills that can be brought to the larger body in the House. The Institutions Committee, that I serve on, is working long days to be able to get our Capital Bill out of committee and over to the Senate Institutions Committee by Friday, Feb. 23. We want to have it to the whole body before Town Meeting recess. Time is one thing, but the bigger, more pressing task at hand is the decision making on where to best allocate the $49.2 million dollars in the Capital Budget when we have need and requests for over $150 million. Our Capital Budget is set by the non-partisan Debt Affordability Committee. The Legislature almost always complies with their recommendations on how much the state should issue long-term bonds for. This amount is developed by balancing the statewide needs with a desire to maintain or strengthen Vermonts bond rating. As you may have recently read, our bond rating has been strengthened to a AAA rating which translates to lower interest costs for the state and other governmental agencies. For example, any municipality that makes use of the states bond rating for town or school construction will benefit from this excellent rating. The Legislature is working on bills that will help Vermonters and make Vermont a place we are proud to call home. One is the recent Farm Bill H.213 which will have had its third reading this current week. This is $3.2 million of short-term assistance to farmers. Also included and perhaps, more importantly, the Ag. Committee is working on long-term goals for a more viable agricultural sector. The Commerce Committee continues to work on Broadband availability and workforce development. The Judiciary Committee is working on a Highway Safety bill including issues dealing with junior operators graduated licenses and cell phone usage. As always, please contact me with any questions, ideas, or concerns. You can call me at 985-8515 or e-mail me at jglenes@aol.com We will be at Brueggers Bagel on Shelburne Road every Tuesday from 7:30 8:45 a.m. I will be at Town Meeting in Shelburne Monday night, March 5 as well as at Town Meeting in St. George on Tuesday, March 6. I look forward to seeing you.

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