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Legislative Notes for February 9, 2012

February 5, 2012

As I reported last week, the House Government Operations Committee voted out the House redistricting plan last Friday. I objected to that plan because it did not provide for fair representation to all Vermonters and divided some towns in Rutland County unnecessarily. On Monday, I was informed that the committee was reconsidering their plan and would be proposing an amendment to modify it on Tuesday. The committee did approve an amendment proposal on Tuesday that improved the original plan considerably. I voted to support the new plan on the floor accepting that it was not perfect but, it was probably the best that we were going to get based on the current make up of the Legislature. The new redistricting plan keeps Milton’s districts the same as they have been for the last decade. I would have preferred to have had all of Milton in one district however, this was not possible because the population of Milton was too large for two seats and yet not large enough for three seats. This plan allows Milton to retain its current representation of two, two seat districts divided essentially by the Lamoille River and Interstate 89 north of Birchwood Manor Mobile Home Park. My district will remain the same and the western part of Milton will continue to be added together with the towns in Grand Isle County for the other two seat district. Although not perfect this plan does give Milton four seats in the Vermont House of Representatives for the next decade.

The debate on the House floor of the plan to replace the Vermont State Hospital took place on Thursday and Friday. Several committees took testimony on this issue over the last several weeks. I was initially concerned that the proposed plan did not contain any beds in the greater Chittenden county area. However, I did receive notice this week that this was not the case and that Fletcher Allen had up to twenty beds available with the best possible care to Vermont’s most vulnerable. With this assurance of service available in Chittenden County I voted to approve this plan. Services need to be available in close proximity to Milton should they ever be needed by you or your family. The plan calls for locating several smaller facilities around the state rather than rebuilding one large facility. This bill passed on close to unanimous vote of the House.

There was a lot of press this week about the Auditors report of the Milton TIF districts. This is a complex issue and it now appears that it is going to take at least two legislative sessions to address this issue. This is a very complex law and due to the inconsistencies in the law and the multitude of changes that have been incurred over the years it will be very difficult to resolve. There are two more audits in progress and the committee’s willingness to wait until they get all of the reports before proposing a resolution is positive news. Look for regular updates on this issue in these weekly reports.
Monica Allard, John Mayville, Harmon “Beaver” Dragon, Bubby Cross and Don Turner Sr. visited me at the Statehouse this week and I enjoyed the time spent with them.

As your representative, I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you. During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is http://www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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