Pre Legislative Session communication

Hello Great North End constituents!
Sitting in the Bagel for one of my Saturday “office hours” and decided to start this UPDATE. We are a little over a month away from the start of the second half of the biennium, and it is time to start to make a serious effort to find out what YOUR thoughts are on issues facing us. I try to be here every second and fourth Saturday from 8 to 9AM or so.. Depends upon the conversation. Stop in! Just found Dave Hartnett here this morning and we talked about tax exemption legislation for a little while. Yes, at 8AM on a Saturday morning!.
A great many of you returned the yellow card I dropped at almost EVERY door in the district over the summer. Thank you for that input. Please feel free to visit BobHooper.org or Bob Hooper State Representative on Facebook to leave other ideas or questions. OR stop in to the Bagel for a bite on those Saturdays.
Issues that have been boiling or simmering from last session – minimum wage, family leave, healthcare, overall budget, affordable housing, quality childcare at reasonable rates, educational costs… all important and still on the burner. Do you have anything to add to the list?
Weeks later:
Well, that part was started a while ago, and then the space bar on the laptop took a siesta which required a ship out for repair, and then Christmas prep intervened, and, and,….. SO, ok-back on task!!
One point I have been wanting to make. While walking the district this summer a couple of times I had what at first I found as an ODD, but later DEPRESSING conversation with voters. It generally went something like this: “Hi, I’m Bob your state rep. Here’s my legislative report and a comment card in case you want to discuss something later.” Conversation ensues and I say goodby followed by: “You know I am a Republican, thanks for stopping to talk with me”.
Folks, after election DAY, to my mind at least (and I know in the past others have thought differently) Party affiliation goes out the window. I feel I represent every person in the district and tried to knock on every door this summer to report to you my activity and seek your input, in person or by return yellow postcard. We may look at issues from different perspectives, but I am always available to listen and possibly be convinced that your position should INFLUENCE mine. Guns, environment, sewage, fees, greenhouse….whatever. I am here to listen and act in the general interest of all district members, to the best of my ability, regardless of Party.
With that in mind, I once again seek your input on issues that will be before us this session. Send back the postcard, find me on Facebook at Bob Hooper State Representative, or my BobHooper.org website.
We will be heavily engaged in the mitigation of the impact we are having on Climate this year. Since our break in May, several subcommittees have been working on how Vermont can help to lessen our contribution to greenhouse gas, fossil fuel usage, substandard housing, higher technology conversion and usage of energy. Last week there was a committee report delivered at BED offices for Burlington residents, and this week one was held in Charlotte. Although Vermont is low on the overall pollution scale, our average release of contributing items has increased in the last years.
I am not expecting any radical movement on firearms legislation this year. Something could fall from the sky but it is not anticipated beyond prior framework discussions. A constituent often sends me First amendment material and recently sent an FBI report on the decrease in the rate of violent crime in America. Thanks Mike for doing that. HOWEVER, although overall crime is decreasing, our kids are not safe in their schools, you are not safe in your church, at a concert or in some places, just walking the street. The incidents of MASS SHOOTINGS continue to be a national concern. And even more concerning is the lack of coverage they get in the news, which indicates that they are being viewed as commonplace now……. Only the ones where tens of people are killed or injured make the headlines. As a civil society, we will have to find some resolution to this problem—and soon. Placing the focus on ugly guns only, is not a solution.
I would expect more movement and possibly passage of the bill that will provide for the sale and control of cannabis. Many view this as creating a market that will do us harm as a society. I feel that “underground” market already exists AND it is a product that may contain random chemicals and be unsafe. In this bill we move the market out into the sunshine, require testing of product that will not be polluted with unknown substances, and inform users of the potency and variety of product they are consuming. We have designated 30% of the funds derived from taxation on sales to go to prevention and education activities within Vermont. We have taken measures to try to limit vaping of products in those under 21. We have also taken some measure to protect our Vermont businesses and the MEDICAL cannabis dispensaries from being consumed by large out-of-state corporations. Cannabis usage is a genie that will never be put back into the bottle. I feel with this bill we are moving in a good direction.
Most recently I have been working with legislative staff to try to craft bills that will try to: 1. Limit the ability of companies to “spoof” a local phone number when calling from out-of-state to try to trick you into answering their call about your “microsoft computer or your car warranty expiring or an urgent social security issue”. AND 2. Legislation that would prohibit your name being placed upon a “spam” email list unless your prior authorization was secured. An example would be if you sign up for a “free” offering at the Fair, and then find you are getting emails from everyone and their brother after the Fair guy sold your address to a list broker without your permission. AND a couple of other ideas yet to make it to paper.
I continue to find the legislative work to be SERIOUS but also FUN. I again thank you for the opportunity to engage in this service to our community and state.
I also continue to solicit YOUR input about the issues of the day, or your personal concerns about the operation of state government. Both the Department for Children and Families AND the Department of Corrections are garnering prominent headlines in the last weeks. The Legislature will be taking testimony about what was done right and wrong in these situations and possibly making general changes within the limitations of Legislative review. Do you have thoughts? I remain available on Facebook, www.bobhooper.org, and by phone at 363-5842.
Lastly, I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and a FLYNN Filled new year!!
Bob Hooper
Vermont General Assembly
Chittenden 6.1, The Great North End
House Government Operations Committee