This week, our attention was of course drawn to our nation’s Capital, where we watched with outrage as armed white supremacists violently stormed the U.S. Capitol Building, spurred on by the President. We watched as law enforcement failed to meet the moment – and we contrasted their response with what we’ve seen, over and over, in response to peaceful protestors at numerous Black Lives Matter rallies this summer and fall.
These white supremacists were actively trying to undermine the results of a fair and free election. Fortunately, they failed, and President-Elect Biden’s victory was certified. But we must not let this violent uprising go without response. We believe President Trump should immediately resign or be removed from office. Numerous other federal officials also stoked the fires of racial division, peddled in conspiracy theories, and continued to question our election results even after this failed coup attempt. They too should be held accountable.
We thank Senators Leahy and Sanders, Congressman Welch, and Governor Scott for calling for President Trump’s immediate removal from office. We appreciated the Legislature’s swift action to pass a Joint Resolution (J.R.H. 1) condemning these attacks on democracy and calling for President Trump to resign or be removed from office.
Meanwhile, overshadowed by the horrific images from DC, were the extraordinary wins of newly-elected U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia. We are grateful to the many amazing organizers who have been building this movement for many years. Tipping the balance of power in the US Senate will open new possibilities for our work on racial justice, the climate crisis, clean water, land conservation, and much more.
Here in Vermont, we had an unusual but orderly swearing-in of statewide officials and legislators. We saw new leaders sworn in, including the first-ever all-female legislative leadership team – with Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, and Lt. Governor Molly Gray.
In contrast to the divisiveness in D.C., we saw a shared commitment among Vermont lawmakers across the political spectrum for helping Vermonters weather these challenging times, and working to create a better future. In his Inaugural address, Governor Scott highlighted the importance of working collaboratively together, and rebuilding in ways that work better for people in all corners of the state. Within the speech he highlighted a desire to update Act 250 in ways that will revitalize downtowns and village centers, expand outdoor recreation and local food systems, and maintain environmental protections. He also nodded to the need to increase investments to help more Vermonters weatherize their homes.
We are excited to get back to work advocating on behalf of Vermont’s environment and people. We look forward to working with the legislature this session on important issues impacting our air, water, land, health and democracy. To learn more about what’s on tap for climate action, click here to watch our first Climate Dispatch of the session. We spoke with the Chairs of the legislative Climate Solutions Caucus, Senator Christopher Pearson and Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, as well as Johanna Miller from VNRC, about key climate priorities for this year.
This week legislators were assigned to their committees. The work done in legislative committees plays a central role in which policies are advanced, and how policies are shaped. Click here to see which committee(s) your legislators will be serving on – (once on the website, click on “Show all members” at the top of the page to see the full list of committee members).
We are living in unprecedented and challenging times, and this week has tested our democracy like never before. We are grateful for the strong responses from Vermont’s leaders, and we remain hopeful that we can come together to respond to the current public health, racial justice, economic, and climate crises by building stronger and more resilient communities.