Plans in the making

The House Institutions and Corrections Committee, on which I serve as Clerk, will be coming out this week with a bill dealing with the Department of Corrections and the high rate of recidivism of offenders. We need to weave the recommendations from the Council of State Governments report with what we already know about offenders. We need to write good law that will improve the life of the offenders as well as keeping our communities safe. The policy options that the Council has outlined are: Expanding the use of community-based treatment programs for offenders with substance abuse problems. Put property and drug offenders in work camps with substance abuse treatment and vocational training programs Ensure people on conditional reentry are connected to treatment upon release Reduce failures on probation by creating incentives for good behavior Ensure that reintegration status is utilized whenever appropriate The financial figures that we have seen with these recommendations in place are a cumulative savings of $92 million. The estimated cost of implementation is $38 million for a net savings of $54 million. The savings makes sense, but more importantly, it is good for society. I believe we have the will to take these bold steps. Those are some of the happenings from my committee. Other priorities from the State House for this biennium are rural economic development, which includes livable wage job creation, promotion of affordable and inhabitable housing, a safe transportation infrastructure, and access to affordable health care to mention a few. The Housing Committee has been making progress on housing creation and housing preservation. The outline of a creation bill would have Vermont Neighborhoods in or contiguous with existing growth/town/village centers. Our House Ways and Means Committee, among other issues, is looking at the Administrations proposal for leasing the state lottery. This has proven to be a controversial topic, and in my mind, not a viable source of state income. There are many angles to consider and I am leery of a quick fix for balancing a budget. As always, you can reach me at 985-8515 or e-mail at jglenes@aol.com. I am at Brueggers Bagel on Shelburne Road with Joyce every Tuesday morning from 7:30-8:45. I will go to the St. George Select Board meeting on Thursday, the 14th of February.

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