Today was a banner day. I saw my first FULLY transformed maple tree while driving around Waterbury Center. To me, this signifies the sun setting on Summer, and what a great one it was. Surely, after a wet and cool start, we roasted. Reminding us that our home is literally and figuratively burning around us…. A third of the country is on fire (earlier and more intensely), a third is basically under water, a sixth is running out of water (the bathtub ring at Hoover Dam grows!!) And up here in the NE, we are praying for snow and having NO idea if it will actually come -or if we will see a dumping due to jet stream changes. Meanwhile, COVID came back to visit with a big brother kicking some serious butt and as a region and nation we are worse off than 9 months ago. DANG!!!!
I sorta took the summer off. Yes, NPA! Yes, Unemployment check problems, Yes pupil weighting ratio study interest. Yes, retirement plan issues at both the city and state level….. but also, yes to a couple of trips, yes to some time on the lake, and yes to sitting in the back yard under the lights. I think we ALL needed a break after a year + of “Lone Ranger” garbed lockdown.
But now, time to get back to it.
I did do something novel 2 weeks ago, and urge YOU to join me… I got a regular old seasonal Flu Shot!! With all the COVID attention, when I saw the sign at COSTCO, I had to scratch my head. No one I knew got the regular flu last year…I know people that died from COVID, so not to minimize, but the masking and alcohol hand cleaning and not touching your eyes and face, etc…..It made a difference!!! We now know how this stuff is transmitted and can take steps to protect ourselves from this one…. Next one?? Who knows. BUT get ALL THE SHOTS you can and protect yourself from as much as you can. The bug uses US as a laboratory for getting smarter, stronger and more contagious… Don’t give it the chance.
In July, a lot of the work we did last year from our bedroom/basement/attic offices went into effect. A couple of changes I found significant is a new criteria for NO MEANS NO interaction involving Consent in the intimate context…. Most importantly, there is no longer such thing as impaired consent. It is not just a college kid issue any more so as not romantic as it may sound, understand what is a yes and a no before imbibing or becoming impaired.
Secondly, we saw a move to rid Vermont of the class of petro chemicals designated as FOREVER (think-ground pollution in Bennington) chemicals, which never break down in our environment and often lead to serious nerve or cancer events in people around them. It is a good thing, but they pop up in odd places so you will eventually notice changes to things like water repellency for fabrics. They are everywhere but firefighting foam was a huge source since a lot of it has these things for surfactant action. Fortunately they don’t exist in the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper you stockpiled during the COVID initial holding session so you are safe until you open the last roll in 2050.
And when it comes to chemicals, we continue to try to look after the bees. When you look into it, as we have done, it is amazing and frightening the amount of good food we would no longer have if the pollinators vanished from our earth……as if that is our biggest problem these days.
On a brighter note (maybe) , it looks like the legislative session will be back in Montpelier for all, most or many of us. The COVID status will clearly impact that final decision in probably December with revision of the safety requirement for everyone, but as it stands now, we will return. I think this is much better from a lot of perspectives. Last year, only a select few people had regular contact with each other and legislative priorities were dictated by them. SO MUCH of crafting good legislation is the potential for input from everyone-all 150 legislators, and that was significantly limited by zooming from your home. The need to drive down and back in the middle of winter is a challenge sometimes, but is definitely offset by being able to meet with y’all evenings etc in the district. Your input is important and often being limited to a phone call is just not sufficient to convey the importance of some issues. Unless a blizzard intervenes, you will continue to find me available evenings and weekends to talk to you about issues you feel are important.
For Burlington, and our tax rates, the pupil weighting study is important and worthy of you following. I think the folks dedicating their time to studying the issue are giving fair consideration to the issues we face with our somewhat unique pupil demands. We may make out OK, but several of us are still keeping an eye on the discussions between urban and rural districts. Stay tuned for more information as the process reaches a final stage.
Although a city issue to a great degree, I have to admit the Wild West atmosphere that is developing in our town is concerning to me. I have no desire to branch out into Federal/constitutional territory, but I suspect there ARE things that may help that we could do on the state level to deal with people who think our streets are appropriate places for discharging weapons. I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU ON THIS TOPIC, recognizing that “outlaw all guns” is not a viable option for our state at this time.
Many have asked me about the police staffing issue. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that in many areas, Correctional guards, Probation officers, Fire response, a critical mass of individuals is necessary for the job to be accomplished and for those doing the job to feel like -if necessary, someone has their back. I fully agree that when you take on one of these jobs, you place yourself in the Hero position where you have to be willing to put your own life at risk to insure the public is safe. That is why “to protect and serve” has been the motto on so many black and white cars for decades. However, that does not mean that we as the public should foster or facilitate situations due to staffing, where those providing that safety are feeling unsafe— is anything more than a very rare occurrence. Again, I do not know the magic number for Burlington, the State Police or any public service entity…..but cutting with a broad blade before that number is legitimately determined may prove to work against us all eventually. I look forward to us hearing all input and reaching a validly determined solution.
Reapportionment is upon us….and a lot of discussion is happening around one and two district seats, like we have here in the Great North End. We cover a lot of ground with two representatives, but the diversity of the population we cover is a great asset. I can’t think of a way to divide our mini city that would not end up breaking down the economic and cultural mix that we have treasured here for a good while. The GNE is a part of Burlington, but is very different in our needs and agenda. ANOTHER topic I would like to hear from you about….
Lastly (finally?) it is a non election year, but a great opportunity to solicit YOUR FEEDBACK on performance-meaning MINE and how I am doing representing you. What you would like to see, what you would like to hear, and what you would like to have advanced in Montpelier. It is hard to get things to move in Montpelier, something I consider a problem, unless it is a leadership priority. My bill during my first term to deal with Veteran’s Cremains was popular with all parties and moved quickly. I think my plastic bag bill submission was reviewed with several others in committee and came out positive.
Feel free to email me at StateRepHooper@gmail.com with your questions or comments. And as always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Montpelier.
Mentioned at NPA tonight. Tomorrow a webinar is happening on the Medicare Issue.
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