January 13, 2015 â€“ Issue #2
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Table of Contents:
- Legislative Session Gets Underway; Education Committees Assigned
- Governor Re-Elected; Secretary Holcombe Addresses the Full House
- Education-Related Bills
Legislative Session Gets Underway; Education Committees Assigned
The session began last Wednesday with the reelection of Rep. Shap Smith as Speaker. The Speaker focused a significant portion of his opening remarks to the assembled House on education quality and cost. â€œOne of our fundamental obligations as a government is to provide a world class education to our children,â€ he said. â€œBut, with property taxes increasing and outpacing Vermonters ability to pay, we must look with a clear eye at the results that we are getting for the money we are spending. We must also hear the voices of our constituents who are saying that they cannot afford greater taxation in times of economic instabilityâ€¦This issue is above politics, itâ€™s beyond partisan divide. We must come together on all sides of the aisle to tackle the great challenge of providing an affordable education that is equitable for all of the children of Vermont so that they all have the promise and opportunity that we saw in the 1970â€™s and 1980â€™s and 90â€™s and 2000â€™s. We need to do that.â€
After the morning session, the Speaker announced his committee assignments, including a reconstituted Education Committee that will focus on both education policy and education funding. The members of the House Committee on Education are:
Chair: Representative Dave Sharpe (D)of Bristol; veteran lawmaker, former vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee
Vice Chair: Representative Bernie Juskiewicz (R)of Cambridge; last biennium a member of the House Education Committee
Ranking Member: Representative Kevin â€œCoachâ€ Christie (D) of Hartford; last biennium a member of the House Education Committee
Representative Scott Beck (R) of St. Johnsbury - newly-elected
Representative Sarah Buxton (D) of Tunbridge - last biennium a member of the House Education Committee
Representative Larry Cupoli (R) of Rutland City - last biennium a member of the House Education Committee
Representative Tim Jerman (D) of Essex-Junction - last biennium a member of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee
Representative Emily Long (D) of Newfane - newly elected
Representative Ann Manwaring (D) of Wilmington - last biennium a member of the House Appropriations Committee
Representative Alice Miller (D) of Shaftsbury - last biennium a member of the House Appropriations Committee
Representative Kurt Wright (R) of Burlington - last biennium a member of the House Committee on Transportation
The Senate Committees were announced on Friday afternoon. The members of the Senate Committee on Education are:
Chair: Sen. Ann Cummings (D), of Montpelier, also a member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. Bio at: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/14604
Vice Chair: Sen. Bill Doyle (R) of Montpelier, also a member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. Bio: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/14605
Sen. Phillip Baruth (D), of Burlington. Also serves on the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. Bio: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/15791
Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D), of Hinesburg. Also Vice Chair of Senate Committee on Agriculture.
Sen. Brian Campion (D), of Bennington. Formerly Representative of Bennington 2-1. Also a member of Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Bio: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/24030
Sen. Dustin Degree (R), of St. Albans. Newly elected in 2014. Bio: http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/24032
Information on the committees such as weekly agenda, staff contact information and meeting location can be found for the Senate Committee at
and for the House Committee at
As elected or professional leaders of your school districts and supervisory unions, you can and should serve in an important role as a voice for public education. As your state associations, we strive to be strong representatives of the concerns of education officials but there is no substitute for contact between legislators and their local constituents. We encourage you to read our Reports, keep abreast of issues, and form or strengthen relationships between yourself and the representatives elected from your districts. Click on this link to find contact information for legislators organized by each supervisory union.
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Governor Re-Elected; Secretary Holcombe Addresses the Full House
On Thursday, legislators cast their ballots to elect Vermontâ€™s next governor. Peter Shumlin was elected handily, 110-69. Following his election, Governor Shumlin delivered an inaugural address that primarily focused on clean energy and the environment. He is expected to spend a significant portion of his budget address this Thursday on education issues.
Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe addressed legislators in the House chamber on Friday, Jan 9. In a speech similar to one she has delivered in many areas of the state over the past few months, she gave a primer on Vermont education including AOE's goals for students and the challenges facing teachers and schools. Specific challenges included balancing scarce resources, equity and affordability, declining enrollment, and property taxes. For more in-depth coverage of her presentation, read this article on VTDigger.
Secretary Holcombe will appear before the House Education Committee on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 9:00.
CORRECTION: In last weekâ€™s issue of the Education Legislative Report, we reported that school districts would spend $20 million in 2015 on health insurance benefits. The actual figure is $202 million.
The following bills impacting education have been introduced so far this session:
H.18: Rep. Sweany, Rep. Hubert, Rep. Martin: An Act relating to Public Records Act exemptions.
S. 18: Sen. Benning: establishes a private right of action for a person whose health care information is improperly disclosed by another person.
S. 15: Senators Baruth, Sirotkin, Lyons, McCormack, Pollina, and Zuckerman: proposes to ensure that employees accrue a minimum number of hours of paid sick time annually and prohibits employers from penalizing employees who use their accrued sick time.
S. 9: Sen. Ayer, Sen. Sears, Sen. Cummings, Sen. Flory, Sen. Kitchel, Sen. Mullin: S. 9 An act relating to improving Vermont's system for protecting children from abuse and neglect.