On January 11, 2023

New biennium begins with new faces

By Sen. Alison Clarkson

It is always exciting to begin a new biennium in the Vermont Statehouse. And, the 2023 launch of the first year of that two year legislative period was no exception. 

Over one third of our legislators are newly elected. Of the 10 new senators, only three have served previously in the House of Representatives. So, on the first day of the 2023 session, Wednesday, Jan. 4, the Statehouse was abuzz with proud families and friends, there to witness the swearing in ceremonies and experience the pomp and circumstance Vermont does so well. 

Only two of the state-wide candidates remain unchanged: the governor and the auditor. All the others are either new: Attorney General Charity Clark, Secretary of State Sarah Copeland Hanzas and State Treasurer Michael Pieciak, or returning after a hiatus: Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. And, in the Legislature, while the Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski is returning, we have a new president pro tempore of the Senate, Philip Baruth. 

It was an invigorating first week made so in part by the enthusiasm of all the new members, and in part because it was the first time since 2020 that we were altogether, physically present in the Statehouse for this important moment when we take our oath of office, embracing our public service and accepting the responsibilities of public office. After all 180 Vermont Legislators are sworn in (as we know now, different from our Congressional counterparts) – the respective bodies nominate and elect a Speaker and President Pro Tem. Happy to report, these elections were successful on the first ballot.

During the course of the first week, the Legislature holds a number of Joint Assemblies – one of which hears the report from the joint canvassing committee whose job is to affirm that the vote count for the state-wide officers: governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, secretary of state, auditor of accounts, and attorney general is correct. And, the second is to hear the inaugural address of the governor. 

By Friday all the legislative committees had been appointed. I am delighted to have been re-appointed vice-chair of Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs and to the Senate Government Operations. In November, the Senate Democratic caucus re-elected me to serve as the majority leader of the Senate. I am honored to continue to serve in that capacity, helping the Caucus to define and enact its policy priorities. I am grateful to the people of the Windsor Senate District for re-electing me, and giving me the opportunity to serve you in this remarkable time and in this wonderful state. Thank you, I look forward to working together.

I appreciate hearing from you. I can be reached by email:  aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us or by phone at the Statehouse (Tues-Fri) 802-828-2228 or at home (Sat-Mon) 802- 457-4627. To get more information on the Vermont Legislature, and the bills which have been proposed and passed, visit the legislative website:  legislature.vermont.gov.

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