A New Day in Washington D.C.
This week, we were excited to watch the Inauguration of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President. We were inspired to see the barriers broken by Vice President Harris as the first Black, South Asian, and woman elected to serve in that role.
President Biden got right to work on a range of issues, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and undoing Executive Orders from the Trump Administration that undermined regulations to protect public health and the environment and our reliance on sound science. It’s exciting to have a partner in the White House on climate action, clean water, environmental justice, and other priorities, and we are already working to identify opportunities for new federal policies and funding to support our vision.
STATE HOUSE UPDATES
Meanwhile, the Vermont legislature started digging in on more policy issues this week. The House and Senate Natural Resources Committees took testimony on the Act 250 Executive Order (EO) issued by Gov. Scott last week that would restructure the Natural Resources Board. If the Legislature objects within 90 days, that would void the EO. We will continue to follow the testimony closely. Our current priority for Act 250 is to advance updates that will support healthy forests and sustainable outdoor recreation, better protect river corridors, and better incorporate equity and diversity principles.
On climate change, click here to watch today’s Climate Dispatch video to learn the latest updates. This week, legislators introduced the Transportation Modernization Act – which would invest in programs to help people access more affordable, less polluting, and more convenient transportation options. The bill was cosponsored by 70 Representatives (click here to see if your legislator sponsored this bill, and if so, consider sending a quick note of thanks ).
The Climate Council established by the Global Warming Solutions Act is meeting on Monday (1/25) morning to discuss the process for decision making, subcommittees, and other structural issues. VCV and allies also weighed in with key legislative committees in support of increased funding to effectively implement the Solutions Act by bringing in additional technical and facilitation expertise, and ensuring a robust public engagement process that invests in engaging BIPOC, lower-income, and other Vermonters too often left out of these processes.
We are also working to ensure Vermont maintains a healthy democracy. In that spirit, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a bill to allow mail-in ballots or delayed scheduling for Town Meeting Day due to the ongoing pandemic. After the successful elections this fall, VCV is supporting an effort to make universal mail-in voting a permanent feature of Vermont elections.