2. Protecting children whose parents are incarcerated continues to be a high priority of mine. I've teamed up with over half of the House members (by getting them to co-sponsor bills) related to giving more recognition, dignity, and safeguards to children whose parents are incarcerated. One of the plans is to create a task force, which could enable local non-profits to get five or six figures of $$$ from the federal government. All of this will help end some of the pernicious inter-generational cycle of prison for so many families.
3. We must cut the costs of healthcare. Five years ago it cost Vermonters collectively $3.9 Billion. Next year it's expected to be $5.9 Billion, or about $10,000 for each man, woman, and child. That $2 Billion growth in just five years is unsustainable. We have a long way to go in our planning, but we cannot afford to fail and give in to the solely market-driven status quo that involves layers upon layers of bureaucratic waste.
4. Marijuana decriminalization. I've submitted my bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana (1 ounce or less). The bill ended up being more moderate than initially planned, but by making it more moderate, I was able to pick up support from a Republican co-sponsor and the Shumlin administration. The goal is to devote our scarce resources, and the attention of police, prisons, and judges on true public safety threats.
5. Concern over prison move. The Shumlin administration suggested moving our women inmates to Chittenden County, which will require many changes to our system. I'm working diligently with the parties involved to ensure that cost savings will result AND that we will reduce recidivism. If those things cannot happen, I will be a road-block to the proposal. Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that this proposal can become a win-win.
6. Bicyclists: I offered new legislation to bolster biking in Vermont, teaming up with several key legislators on the transportation committee, among others. Stay tuned....
There are literally dozens of other issues I'm working on, but I wanted to give a snapshot of some of the activities underway.