Nitka’s notes from the Statehouse, May 3, 2019

Dear Editor,

“The Road to Recognition,” is a new exhibit in the Statehouse lobby. It addresses the Abenakis, the state of Vermont, and the journey that led eventually to state recognition in 2011 and 2012. Much work was done by the chiefs and representatives from the Vermont Indigenous Alliance to achieve this recognition for the Missisquoi (northwestern), Nulhegan (northeastern), Elnu (southeastern), and Koas (east central) bands.

A gathering was held at the Statehouse this week by the tribes to commemorate the opening of the exhibit. There was drumming, singing ,and plenty of food on the front porch and steps. Many persons were in tribal dress. All of this was a welcome reprieve from the tension in the building as we work to finish many bills and the budget before adjournment in about three weeks.

Citizen lobbyists are calling, emailing, and visiting the building as they try to influence the outcome of votes. The Youth Lobby had a rally for the planet after a march to the Statehouse regarding climate change, jobs, and justice. Prevention Works held a daylong event with awards to prevention champions. Guests were the governor, the Health Department Commissioner, representatives of our Congressional Delegation, and others. I’m not sure if they received the awards or were there to congratulate recipients. There were presentations also on vaping, Juuling, and e-cigarettes as well as “Iceland’s Approach to Prevention.”

Prevention Works and the statewide coalitions are opposed to the creation of a commercial system of taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana. The coalitions have been working locally with youth for many years to educate and build healthier communities to make substance abuse less likely. Many of the contacts from constituents are about marijuana, both pro and con. The same can be said about the abortion bill.

Today, the majority of contacts are about the Broadband bill and all are in support of it. It does of course require a lot of money and whatever amount is supported will go into the budget.

The budget is being worked on line by line and all spending is being carefully scrutinized from the $50 to $60 million requested for clean water to the need to increase the “personal needs allowance” of $47 for the neediest persons in nursing homes who haven’t had an increase in 17 years. They are paying for their own haircuts and others would sometimes like to buy a new nightgown. They will be getting a raise! The budgeted state dollar spending will likely be around $1.5 billion without the federal money calculated into the spending.

Consider visiting your Statehouse and hear the floor debates. Bills are very hard to follow now as they are being combined with other bills that are more likely to pass. Contact me at home at 802-228-8432 or the Statehouse at 1-800-322-5616 or anitka@leg.state.vt.us. I am able to read all of your emails and appreciate you sending them, however the volume received makes it impossible to respond to all of them.

Sincerely,

Sen. Alice Nitka

Windsor County

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