I have been honored to represent this district throughout the past legislative session. Whether you live in the village of Grafton, operate farm in Windham, or work at the industrial park in Rockingham, you have witnessed first-hand the need to create a competitive business edge with our neighbors across the river while maintaining the quality of life that makes us all proud to call ourselves Vermonters.
Properly representing Windham-3 requires a willingness to listen to the voices and experiences of your constituents, while being able to work with the other representatives and senators in Montpelier. I have worked to understand the unique challenges our district faces, while still moving the state forward in a spirit of bipartisanship. I am proud to say that I have been an active participant in our representative democracy, and have made great efforts to work with Progressives, Republicans, and Democrats to tailor common-sense, common-ground solutions for our district.
This last year has presented Vermont with hard challenges that we still work to overcome, whether it is rebuilding from Tropical Storm Irene or attempting to chart a path out of the serious economic challenges that we face both federally and state-wide.
Business Development is key to the growth and future of the district, I have first-hand experience with the concerns of the small business owner. As a member of the Rockingham Selectboard, I have seen the issues that our selectboards face in trying to maintain our local businesses while incentivizing new ventures. The state needs to be a partner in this process.
I was successful in Montpelier with fighting for economic development funding for Windham County and, specifically, for our district. I utilized many of the relationships and connections I had forged throughout the general assembly to explain the needs of our area. For many of my fellow representatives and senators, these conversations led to an increased understanding of the vital nature of these investments in our community, and helped to bring that money here.
We must increase our grand list for individual towns, and provide jobs and economic security for our area. During my tenure in the Vermont State Legislature, I actively fought and broke with the party to support legislation or amendments that will benefit both existing businesses as well as future business that may be enticed to enrich our economy.
I have worked carefully with area business owners to understand the frustrations and limitations they have felt within the state government, and will continue to support their needs as the backbone of our local economy. These local business owners deserve a strong voice in the state house.
Single Payer Health Care is not just a compassionate law that will help thousands of Vermonters avoid desperate financial situations due to rising health care costs, but it will also help the state on an economic level as we look for ways to attract businesses to our area. Being in proximity to New Hampshire, Vermont must look for ways to stand out from our neighbor. We want to allow employers the ability to create a more attractive benefits package for their employees by shifting the burden for the most critical non-payroll incentive off of their direct payroll. With that substantial cost of business relieved, we expect businesses to consider Vermont a destination, bringing jobs and increased revenue for the state. I was proud to vote for the proposed Single Payer Health Care bill.
It is important to include the topic of mental health care in the discussion of Health Care. Irene forced us to take a long-needed look at the system of providing mental health care to Vermonters when she destroyed the infamous Vermont State Hospital. As a member of the House Human Services committee, I was in instrumental in moving Vermont to the forefront of mental health care by moving us away from an institutional model and towards providing supports throughout the state. This will help us to better serve Vermonters and their families dealing with mental health issues.
The Vermont state government has a fiduciary duty to live within its budget, just as its citizens do. While in the state house, I worked to pass responsible budgets created without broad-based tax increases. Serving on the house committee on human services, I fought to meet the needs of Vermont’s most vulnerable while eliminating waste. I have fought diligently for transparency within the system so that Vermonters know where their tax dollars are going.
I’m proud to see that the state budgets that I supported while in Montpelier accomplished important goals, including limiting the amount of Irene-related costs that individual towns are responsible to raise through property taxes. This directly benefited many towns within our district.
Privacy Rights of Vermonters
Vermonters cherish their right to privacy, and both our Federal and State constitutions contain provisions that guarantee the right to privacy for our citizens. But the right to privacy is always in need of a staunch defender, as this past session has proven. I have been unafraid to stand up to both Governor Shumlin and a Democratically-controlled senate to safeguard the rights of Vermonters and protect Vermonter’s medical records through the prescription drug monitoring database from portions of a bill that would have eroded doctor-patient confidentiality. While no one would deny that prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this state, many other avenues have been shown to be more effective in combating this problem than warrantless searches by police.
On the issues of privacy rights of Vermonters, the United States Bill of Rights and the Vermont State Constitution is the compromise, and Vermonters deserve to know that when they are seeing their doctor, that the doctor is focusing on providing proper health care and medical attention, and not on entering private medical information into a police database.
The issues that are of the most importance to me are the ones that are brought to me by my constituents. I have enjoyed meeting many of you, hearing your concerns, and bringing them back to Montpelier to fight for you. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to work for you in Montpelier. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns or issues you may have.