The legislature recessed last Friday, March 20, to work remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I can’t believe the speed of changes since then.
I know how challenging it is to awake to headlines from around Vermont, the country and the world that the COVID-19 crisis is deepening. I expect that it is going to be this way for a while.
Our lives have already changed whether it’s because everyone is at home attending school or working, or because our business has shut down or we’ve been laid off or we’re home alone and isolated.
I recognize that many may already be struggling to meet basic needs. Please let me know how I can help connect you with resources or with each other. Change is often unsettling and not knowing can create more fear and anger. Nevertheless, I have faith in our collective ability to come together as we did not so long ago when Tropical Storm Irene devastated the state.
I’ve always appreciated the way that the Vermont legislature can work together across party lines and this time is no different. As legislators, we are working in collaboration with all levels of government and we are letting science be our guide as we craft Vermont specific responses.
With different committees meeting remotely seven days a week, the House is working with both the Senate and the Governor and his administration in developing feasible and responsive policy responses to this crisis, and to provide through legislation the necessary flexibility for state government to respond as nimbly as possible.
I spend the bulk of my day at my dining room table on the computer or phone answering questions, talking with the Governor’s office and examining proposed policy changes with other legislators, community members, and business owners.
By the time you read this article, a package of emergency legislative initiatives focused on the health and economic well- being of Vermonters will have passed both chambers and will be ready for immediate implementation. Even while working remotely, the business of the legislature is open to the public. You might even say we are more accessible because now everyone is able to phone and listen to committee discussions. Just go on the legislative web page for a committee’s agenda and there will be the telephone number to use.
There is an overabundance of information sent out daily, if not hourly and it can be confusing. For the most up-to-date information and guidance about COVID-19 please visit healthvermont.gov/covid19. The web pages of other state agencies, such as the Agency of Education and the Department of Labor have very helpful guidance as well. At the same time all of that can be confusing, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Thank you to those who have heeded the directives from the Commissioner of Health and the Governor in how to protect not only yourselves but also those around you. Thank you to those who have contacted me with questions, suggestions and concerns. And thank you to those who have reached out to our more vulnerable residents to offer to assistance. I recognize that many may already be struggling to meet basic needs. Please let me know how I can help connect you with resources or with each other.
Vermonters are tough and resilient. Life will be different and I have faith that we will overcome the challenges ahead of us with a steadfast commitment to protect and help each other. Thank you for your trust in me during this difficult time.