Nitka’s notes from the Statehouse, Jan. 31, 2020

Dear Editor,

A very nice honor was bestowed on a Vermont Legislator this month. Representative Mary Beth Redmond of Essex was named Vermont Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc. She is the 61st recipient of the award and was granted it for her work in the Legislature, the Women’s Caucus, and for serving on the Vermont Commission on Women. She has also worked for various nonprofit organizations supporting women and girls, new Americans, and incarcerated populations. She is married and the mother of two sons.

The choice of Mary Beth reminded me of the winner chosen more than 20 years ago, Rita McCaffery of Rutland and Weston. Mrs. McCaffery was one of the founders of Dismas House and continues to be involved in their programs at three locations in the state. Dismas House provides supervised family-style living for persons transitioning out of prison. This is a much needed service as many persons remain in prison for lack of appropriate housing even though they have served their minimum sentence and are eligible for release. At the end of 2019, there were 1,318 sentenced inmates – not detainees – and of those 230 were eligible for release. Twenty-six percent of them couldn’t be released due to a lack of appropriate housing while the remainder weren’t being released due to safety and programming issues.

Regarding another piece of the justice system, Windsor County has a new top prosecutor. Ward Goodenough has been appointed by Gov. Phil Scott to serve the remainder of David Cahill’s term as state’s attorney, a period of almost two years. Goodenough has been working as a Deputy State’s Attorney in the office with Cahill and had previous experience working in the same office in Rutland County.

A Conference Committee report on S.23 re: raising the minimum wage for workers has passed the House and Senate; however, it is unknown at this time if the bill will become law. As of Jan. 1, 2020, the wage for non-tipped workers rose to $10.96 per hour and that rate is currently in place. On Jan. 1, 2021 the proposal is to raise the rate to $11.75 per hour. On Jan. 1, 2022, the proposal is to raise the rate to $12.55. On Jan. 1, 2023 and each subsequent year the rate will increase by 5% or the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index. Presently, the rate rises based on the CPI. The rate for tipped employees has not changed in this bill. A study is requested in the bill concerning the basic wage rate for tipped employees.

Feel free to contact me at the Statehouse at 1-800-322-5616, on weekends at 802-228-8432, or Letters are good too. Please send them to P.O. Box 136, Ludlow, VT 05149-0136


Sen. Alice Nitka

Windsor County

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