January 9th, 2019, marked the start of a new legislative biennium in the Vermont General Assembly.

The Democrats this session have 95 seats in the House and 102 votes if members of the Progressive party vote with them. Here is a rundown of Committee assignments.

In the House there are 7 new Chairs of Committees:
•    House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife – Rep. Amy Sheldon (D-Middlebury)
•    House Commerce and Economic Development – Rep. Mike Marcotte (R-Coventry)
•    House Transportation – Rep. Curt McCormack (D-Burlington)
•    House Education – Rep. Kate Webb (D-Shelburne)
•    House Energy & Technology – Rep. Tim Briglin (D-Thetford)
•    House Committee on Housing, General, and Military Affairs – Rep. Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury)
•    House Committee on Government Operations – Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford)

The returning House Chairs are:
•    House Committee on Agriculture – Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham)
•    House Committee on Appropriations – Rep. Kitty Toll (D-Danville)
•    House Committee on Corrections & Institutions – Rep. Alice Emmons (D-Shelburne)
•    House Committee on Healthcare – – Rep. Bill Lipert (D-Hinesburg)
•    House Committee on Human Services – Rep. Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington)
•    House Committee on Judiciary – Rep. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown)
•    House Committee on Ways & Means – Rep. Janet Ancel (D-Calais)

In the Senate there were only 4 new freshman legislators elected to the 30-member body. Also, only two Committee Chairs changed hands with Senator Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) leading the Senate Committee on Institutions and Senator Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden) chairing the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.

The returning Senate Chairs are:
•    Senate Committee on Agriculture – Sen. Bobby Starr (D-Essex-Orleans)
•    Senate Committee on Appropriations – Sen. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia)
•    Senate Committee on Education – Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden)
•    Senate Committee on Economic Development – Sen. Micahel Sirotkin (D-Chittenden)
•    Senate Committee on Finance – Sen. Ann Cummings (D-Washington)
•    Senate Committee on Government Operations – Sen. Jennette White (D-Windham)
•    Senate Committee on the Judiciary – Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington)
•    Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy – Sen. Christopher Bray (D-Addison)
•    Senate Committee on Transportation – Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle)

Governor Phil Scott also gave his Inaugural Address, which was aspirational and urged legislators to find common ground and approach differences with civility. He then went on to highlight his policy agenda which includes making Vermont more affordable and expanding the labor force.

Look for an overview of AARP VT’s legislative agenda here soon.

 

Volunteer Highlight: Gertrude Hodge
For the first time in more than a half a century, AARP VT volunteer Gertrude Hodge will not be gracing the halls of the VT statehouse. Sadly, Gert passed away in 2018 at the age of 99. Gert had a tireless commitment to the needs and concerns of Vermonters and she embodied all that is special about this state – stubbornly independent (she herself drove to the statehouse in horrible snowstorms, even at age 99!); determinedly optimistic for the states future (Gert never held back her opinion on “go-nowhere” policy reforms); and proudly practical (leading lobbyists glued to their committee chairs through a series of calisthenics during committee hearing breaks to get their blood moving again). Gertrude won the AARP Andrus Community Service Award in 2005. The Vermont statehouse will never be the same without her.