On May 15, 2024
State News

A lot accomplished this Legislative session

Vermont’s 2023-24 Legislative Biennium ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning May 11. The Senate gaveled out at 1:18 a.m. and the House about 2 a.m. This has been a hard session. It was begun in the wake of a natural disaster, with a state recovering from terrible flooding. Despite these challenges we managed to accomplish a lot. 

We made real progress further protecting Vermont from future natural disasters, improving flood safety by protecting our river corridors, updating Act 250 as we plan for greater density in our smart growth areas while protecting our natural resources and reducing sprawl, and improving government’s response to natural disasters. We passed a Climate Superfund bill which holds the largest fossil fuel companies liable for the cost of repairing the damage to our environment through climate change. We updated our renewable energy standard to ensure that the energy Vermonters use will be 100% clean by 2035 — which will put us on track to be one of the first states whose energy will be fully decarbonized. 

And we passed one of the most comprehensive data privacy bills in the country designed to protect Vermont consumers from having their data used in inappropriate and harmful ways. It includes a “kid’s code” which protects children’s privacy and prohibits certain code designs which increase use and create on-line addictions. 

So many bills were passed in the last two weeks it is hard to keep track. We passed bills to improve literacy, public safety measures to reduce retail theft and increase firearm safety, and, in a new attempt to address the opioid crisis we established a pilot “overdose prevention center” in Burlington to help those with substance abuse disorder use safely under medical supervision and get help with recovery if they choose. We updated our open meeting law, we created a municipal code of ethics and we saved the Salisbury fish hatchery. And, there is so much more.

In many ways the most important thing we did was to pass the $8.6 billion FY25 Vermont state budget — every line of which represents a real value to someone. Whether it’s supportive housing for our developmentally disabled or our state parks, new bridges or the renovation of our historic sites, housing the homeless or workforce development — this budget funds much of what we take for granted — our courts, our schools, our state employees, transportation — it funds all of state government which supports so much of our life in Vermont. 

I am proud of how the Legislature works together to help improve and support Vermonters and the beautiful state we are lucky enough to live in. It’s easy to forget that the vast majority of our decisions are unanimous. When we do disagree on an issue, we tend to come together and continue to work productively on the next issue facing us. I still feel we are a model for how democracy, at its best, works. 

Sen. Alision Clarkson appreciates hearing from you. She can be reached by email: aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us or by phone 802- 457-4627. For more information on the bills which have been proposed and passed, visit: legislature.vermont.gov.

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