2 bills in the VT House regarding firearms

S.22 calls for a 48-hour waiting period before the purchase of a gun and for setting storage requirements for firearms.
H.159 calls for a 72-hour waiting period for all firearms sales.

FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE, WAITING PERIODS & SAFE STORAGE

  1. 420 Vermonters died from firearms between 2011 and 2016, and 89% of those (374 individuals) were suicides.(Source: Taylor Dobbs’s study for VPR)
  2. 85% of suicide attempts with guns are fatal. Many of the other most widely used suicide attempts are successful in less than 5% of the time. (Source: Harvard School of Public Health study on gun suicides)
  3. Vermont’s suicide death rate is 35% higher than the national average, and guns are used 59% of the time. (Source: CDC report: 6/8/18, “Vital Signs:Trends in State Suicide Rates—U.S., 1999-2016 & Circumstances Contributing to Suicdes—27 States, 2015)
  4. States with mandatory waiting periods had on average 17% fewer murders and about 10% fewer suicides. (Source: Harvard University Research study by Deepak Malhotra and Michael Luck, done after Sandy Hook)
  5. When South Dakota repealed its 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in 2009, overall suicides the following year increased 7.6%. (Source: Same as item 4, above)
  6. Minors living in homes with unsecured guns are at an especially high risk of suicide and accidental fire arm injury. (Source: A. Angle Meyer et al, “The accessibility of firearms and the risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 160 (2) (2014): 100—10; and other studies reaching back to 1993)
  7. Between 2004 and 2014, over 6,000 minors intentionally shot themselves. (Source: CDC Fatal Injury and Non-Fatal Injury Report covering the years 2004-2014)
  8. The vast majority of those minors who used guns, those guns were owned by someone in their home. (Source: Renee Johnson, et al, “Who are the owners of firearms used in adolescent suicides?,” Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior Vol. 40 (6) (Dec. 2010) 609-11)

Update from Sen. Cheryl Hooker

Highlights of the First Two Months in the Senate

It is an honor to be serving Rutland County in Montpelier as one of your Senators and I would like to let you know about some of the bills the Senate has passed in the first two months of the session.

S.18 is a consumer protection bill dealing with the fine print in many of the contracts you sign when buying goods and services. Although most businesses we deal with in Vermont are consumer friendly, some corporations have been increasingly successful in exposing consumers to burdensome demands in contracts for services like cell phones or car rentals. S.18 prevents “unconscionable” contract clauses, such as requiring consumers to travel to distant locations to resolve disputes and limiting appeal rights. Read the fine print, but if this bill becomes law, you won’t have to worry so much about untenable hoops if you have a problem with a company.

S.23 raises the minimum wage. Currently, our minimum wage is $10.78 and hour and this bill, if passed into law, would raise the rate annually until it is $15 an hour in 2024. The perception may be that the typical minimum wage worker is a part-time high school student, but statistics show that over 40% of all minimum wage workers are 35 or older; almost 90% are 20 or older. In addition, 41% of minimum wage workers are the head of a family providing most of the family’s income.

Last September, the Vermont Department of Health reported that all of 16 schools tested for lead in drinking water found elevated levels. S.40 provides 100% state funding to test every drinking source at every school and childcare facility in Vermont. Lead exposure for children can damage brain development. We feel this is a very important health issue and passed the bill 29-0.

Campaign finance is a perennial discussion. S.47 bans corporate contributions to political parties and candidates for office in Vermont. If this ban is passed into law, Vermont will join 22 other states that have banned these contributions in an attempt to clean up the election process and put candidates for our citizens’ legislature on a more level playing field.

Vermont law allows for the legal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis. S.54 creates a system to regulate the cannabis industry to provide a safe method for consumers to purchase cannabis products. It taxes the sale of cannabis and seeks to eliminate the black market.

Among adults who smoke, approximately 90% first used cigarettes before age 19. S.86 increases the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The research indicates that raising the legal age of purchasing tobacco products to 21 will result in 11,000 fewer Vermont adults smoking. Research also shows that not smoking is among the best decisions a person can make to maintain good health.

H.3, which has already passed the Senate and the House, creates a working group to review the curriculum used in all public schools in order to increase awareness of the contribution, treatment and perspective of Vermont’s racial, ethnic, and social minorities. The more we know about each other and our differences, the more we know we are the same.

The Senate has also initiated hearings to better understand the health impacts Vermont soldiers deployed overseas may experience due to exposure to “burn pits”. Burn pits are large piles the military uses to eliminate all sorts of waste. This could be a public health crisis in the making, and we need to protect our soldiers.

I voted for all of the above legislation and send this information with the help of the office of the President Pro Tem. These and many other issues will progress as the session goes on. They all need to be vetted by the House and you are welcome to follow the progress of any legislation being considered.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve Rutland County.

Cheryl M. Hooker

Rutland County Senator

Paid Family Medical Leave

A strong, universal paid family and medical leave insurance program
is a key part of building a Vermont that works for all of us.

The Vermont Democratic-majority legislature has a plan for a strong, universal paid family and medical leave insurance program that:

•  Will help ensure that our families and communities are healthy. Providing Vermonters with the ability to take time to care for themselves and their  loved ones will support people when they need it most
• Is part of building a stronger small business economy and a healthy workforce. 
• Will help attract more young professionals to the state, encourage young people and families to stay in Vermont, and level the playing field for small businesses.   
•  Working Vermonters cannot continue to be forced to choose between being able to pay their bills or being there to care for a new baby or a loved one in need. 
•  This proposal will support our families and a healthy state economy.
    —Governor Scott stated his plan would cost “about a buck a day”
    —Our proposal as introduced would ensure all working Vermonters are covered, and would cost about .28 cents per day for a min. wage worker and around 70 cents per day for a worker earning the median income
•  The legislature’s approach is a tried and true model that has been successful in states across the country—and in countries across the globe

Governor Scott’s proposal:

• Lower wage workers are least likely to have access to paid leave on the Governor’s plan, which proposes a cap of 60% wage replacement. The lower the wage replacement level, the more inaccessible the leave becomes for lower-wage workers.
• Private insurance plans are too restrictive and will not meet the needs of Vermonters.
• Private plans are designed for profit and give the company incentive to deny claims. 
• A social insurance/ public model is designed to spread the risk among everyone and ensure that the benefit is available to everyone. 
• Without a universal insurance pool, the program will become cost-prohibitive for Vermonters and Vermont small businesses.
• Voluntary—or opt-in­­—social insurance programs are generally unsustainable and lead to higher premiums for those who do pt-in, as only those with an anticipated immediate need generally opt-in & draw benefits from the program, driving up premium costs.

The Democratic legislature’s plan will be more cost-effective and more successful.

Please consider contacting your legislators with your thoughts.

Important update on H3/S46, legislation related to ethnic and social equity studies standards for public schools

Please consider calling your local legislators in support of H3/S46, legislation related to ethnic and social equity studies standards for public schools. This legislation provides the tools needed to address severe disparities in education, facilitating the work of teachers otherwise lacking resources on important topics, and providing anonymized data on school environments to enable decision-making on policies that would enrich the lives of all Vermonters.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does this legislation dictate how teachers perform their jobs? No. It provides resources that are otherwise lacking to make teachers’ jobs easier.

Does this legislation dictate how the State Board of Education performs its job? No. It creates a working group of subject matter experts to advise the State Board of Education on these issues.

Do we really need this legislation? Yes. Primary stakeholders are in agreement that this legislation is absolutely necessary to ensure that Vermont is a safe and welcoming state for everyone.

On Tuesday of this week Tabitha Pohl-Moore, President of the Rutland area branch of the NAACP, and representatives of the VT-NEA and the VSBA testified in front of house and senate legislators about the urgent need for this legislation. 

This testimony comes 8 days after a self-proclaimed white nationalist brazenly wore an anti-Semitic symbol into the Congregation Beth El Synagogue in Bennington as a clear act of intimidation during a press conference at which the Vermont Attorney General announced that no criminal charges were going to be filed as a result of the state’s probe into the alleged harassment inflicted by this white nationalist and others in a successful bid to force former Representative Kiah Morris to step down. 

This testimony comes about 5 months after young people of color were targeted with racial slurs and other offensive behavior at a summer camp in Stowe. 

This testimony comes two and a half weeks after the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the court could proceed with a case charging a Vermont Police State trooper of discriminatory search and seizure in a traffic stop involving a black man four years ago in Wallingford. And Vermont is at the top of the list when it comes to states that disproportionately incarcerate black men.

This testimony comes 27 days after the second death of a migrant child detained at the southern border and two months after a lawsuit was filed against the Vermont DMV, ICE and DHS for illegally targeting immigrant leaders in retaliation for activism. The Guardian reports that as many as 15,000 children are being held separately from their parents in unsanitary and inhumane conditions at the southern border. 

H3/S46 are supported by the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, a statewide coalition led by a multicultural and multigenerational group of people of color from various racial and ethnic groups, anti-poverty advocates, disability rights advocates, LGBTQIA advocates, and their allies. The coalition includes elders, students, parents, educators, and organizations. 

And, in the words of a local teacher, “Vermont needs to adopt H3/S46. First, responsible and involved citizenship, informed and integrative thinking, and creative and practical problem solving are 3 of the 5 21st century skills required for graduation in Vermont. Second and third, the academic and social value of ethnic studies is indisputably supported by scholarly research and held as current best practice. Fourth and last, it is time we take action to address the social degradation of our nation through educating our communities and our youth, and holding elected officials accountable for the well-being of marginalized, vulnerable people.”

A fifth of the young people who are leaving Vermont are doing so because we aren’t diverse enough. We need to act.

Please contact your local district Representative and Senator about passage and implementation of H3/S46.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this request!

Comment on the governor’s budget and regulations on sexual assault

The governor is seeking our feedback on the budget. This is an important way to be heard! Go to http://publicassets.org/blog/tis-the-season/ and select the link in the third paragraph for “online survey.”

And

Due Jan 29: Your comment on DeVos’ proposal to roll back protections for sexual assault victims on college campuses

The number of false rape accusations are VASTLY outnumbered by the number of rapes (even disregarding the many assaults that we know go unreported). But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defends her proposal, which provides more protection for the accused, by exaggerating the number of false accusations. Evidence shows that one in five women have been attacked, whereas the number of false accusations is only 2-6%, the same rate for other crimes. College campuses have a history of trying to sweep assaults under the rug, putting their students at risk and leaving perpetrators free to prey on others.

Sen. Bernie Sanders called DeVos’ proposal “a disgrace and a disservice.” Stand with him and tell the government not to move forward with DeVos’ plan.

Link to make comments: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2018-OCR-0064-0001

For help writing your comment: https://www.handsoffix.org/ and https://www.knowyourix.org/college-resources/know-your-rights/

Articles about Davos’ proposal https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/22/politics/betsy-devos-title-ix/index.html and https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/18/betsy-devos-title-ix-rules-congress-education-1026991?fbclid=IwAR3TS4B66v10g_7uk-Vysq-ZhoqoVfn3tOS_i0tEiON2zNEZ-AZzdbWkcIY

Thank you!

Protect Mueller Rapid Response

Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the Special Counsel Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it.

Peaceful rallies to demand that the Mueller investigation proceed unhindered are scheduled for this evening:
– Main Street Park, at the corner of Main and West Streets 5 – 6 pm
– Castleton Town Green 5 – 6 pm

To sign up for this or future events related to this: https://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response/search

Questions: 802-353-0998

Thank you and Congratulations!

Rutland area Democrats–

THANK YOU for your all of your work leading up to the elections, and for turning out to vote in unprecedented numbers!

You accomplished so much during this election cycle.

Together, your work and your votes:

1. Maintained every D/P-P/D incumbent House seat in the county. (Congratulations to Robin Chesnut-Tangerman Dave Potter, Mary Howard, Linda Joy Sullivan, and Sandy Haas)

2. Elected 3 new Democrats to the House, a HUGE part in putting us over the top for a ‘veto proof’ majority against GovScott for the next two years.
(Congratulations to William Notte, Stephanie Jerome, and Logan Nicoll)

3. Elected our first Democratic State Senator since 2010, the only gain in the entire state.
(Congratulations to Cheryl Mazzariello Hooker)

4. Showed strong majority support for our winning State and Federal candidates.
(Congratulations to David Zuckerman, Doug Hoffer, Jim Condos, Beth Pearce, TJ Donovan, Peter Welch, and Bernie Sanders)

And you did it with phones in hand and with boots on the ground, talking with neighbors, writing letters, registering people to vote, and empowering young folks to come out in record numbers (our future is bright, indeed).

Despite rain, sleet and snow you got out the vote and helped bring about a #BlueWave that swept the nation, giving us our biggest House majority since 2006 and flipping 7 state Governors. Both give us great power against the Trump agenda.

This is what patriotism looks like. Today day I’m especially proud to be an American and a Vermonter.

THANK YOU.

#EPluribusUnum
#FreedomAndUnity

Julian Fenn, Chair Rutland County Democrats

Rides to the polls

The Rutland County Democratic and Progressive parties are providing free rides to the polls for as many people as possible, regardless of party. Space is limited so please contact us asap: 802-353-0998.
Heather Juliussen-Stevenson, Secretary Rutland County Democrats

1 week until the election – get involved

With 1 week to go until the election, here are some ways to get involved:

Week 1 – Make sure everyone knows that early voting has started; encourage friends and family to vote and to vote early. Put out a lawn sign, write a letter to the editor, and brag to your friends and families about your efforts. Go to ActBlue and contribute to one or more candidates. As little as $5 helps! https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rutland

And attend these events:

Thursday, November 1
• 4 – 6 pm Honk and Wave for Logan Nicoll. For details: https://www.facebook.com/events/2179573122365949/
• 4-5:30 pm Meet and Greet Senate Candidate Scott Garren at Tap House, Rutland

Saturday, November 3
• 10:00 am Get-out-the-vote Canvass with Rutland area NAACP – meet at the Speakeasy Café, 67 Center Street, Rutland City. This event is non-partisan.
• 12:30 Honk and Wave for Rutland County Democratic and Progressive candidates at Main Street Park, Rutland City. Bring your smile and and help us spread name recognition and build excitement for Nov 6th!
• 1:45 pm Canvass with Tim Guiles – meet at 44 Carver St., Brandon. No experience necessary. Wear comfortable shoes.
• Phone-banking and canvassing for Vermont candidates at 135 Granger Street, Rutland City
o Shift 1: 10am – 1pm
o Shift 2: 2pm – 5pm
o Shift 3: 5pm – 8:30pm

Sunday November 4
• Phone-banking and canvassing for Vermont candidates at 135 Granger Street, Rutland City
o Shift 1: 10am – 1pm
o Shift 2: 2pm – 5pm
o Shift 3: 5pm – 8:30pm
• 3:30 – 5:00 pm Get-out-the-vote with Christine Hallquist, Castleton University Campus Center Atrium, 49 College Dr, Castleton – Free and open to the public. https://www.facebook.com/events/248839659126112/

Monday November 5 Phone-banking and canvassing for Vermont candidates at 135 Granger Street, Rutland City
o Shift 1: 10am – 1pm
o Shift 2: 2pm – 5pm
o Shift 3: 5pm – 8:30pm

Tuesday November 6 General Election
• Stand at one of the polls – contact hastevenson9@gmail.com
• Phone-banking and canvassing for Vermont candidates at 135 Granger Street, Rutland City
o Shift 1: 9am – 12pm
o Shift 2: 12pm – 3pm:
o Shift 3: 3pm – 5pm
o Shift 4: 5pm – 7pm

Hope to see you at one or more of these events!

* To get a lawn sign for a state-wide or county-candidate, go to 135 Granger Street, Rutland City. For a House candidate, contact that candidate.

* To contribute photos or stories to the Rutland County Democratic Website and/or Facebook, please email hastevenson9@gmail.com

2 weeks until the election – get involved

With 2 weeks to go until the election, here are some ways to get involved:

Week 2 – Make sure everyone knows that early voting has started; encourage friends and family to vote and to vote early. Put out a lawn sign, write a letter to the editor, and brag to your friends and families about your efforts. Go to ActBlue and contribute to one or more candidates. As little as $5 helps! https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rutland

And attend these events:

Wednesday October 24 5-8 pm Phonebank for Rep. Candidate William Notte – Contact acarroll@vtdemocrats.org for location and other details.

Thursday October 25
• 4-5:30 pm Meet and Greet Senate Candidate Scott Garren at Table 24, Rutland
• 6 pm MyRVP Training – Sharing space with the Castleton Indivisible meeting at the Leahy Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center: This is for well-connected volunteers (volunteers who have a lot of contacts in Rutland County who can navigate computers/smart phones. After a training, volunteers will use MyRVP (my Relational Voting Program) to mobilize people they already know and help get-out-the vote. Show up with a computer or smart phone, and be ready to train and work. Bring snacks and dress comfortably.
• 6 pm Castleton Indivisible, Leahy Center, Rutland Regional Medical Center – in lieu of our regular meeting, we’re going to do Get-Out-the-Vote Postcarding for local elections

Friday October 26 at 5-8 pm Phonebanking for candidates Dave Potter & Ken Fredette – 105 Mountain View Road, Tinmouth, VT 05773

Saturday October 27
• Rescheduled Get-out-the-vote Canvass with Rutland area NAACP – this has been moved to Nov 3
• 10:00 – 12:30 Rights and Democracy Rutland County literature drop mass canvass https://www.facebook.com/events/910155172517944/ If you would like to participate in both the NAACP Get-out-the-vote Canvass and the Rights and Democracy canvass, send a message through Facebook or email hastevenson9@gmail.com. Rights and Democracy will arrange for you to have addresses and literature to drop after the NAACP event concludes. RSVP http://www.radvt.org/rutland_county_litdrop
• 10:00 – 8:00 pm Literature drop for Logan Nicoll – meet at 11 Depot Street, Ludlow https://www.facebook.com/events/683630988675863/
• 1:45 pm Canvass with Tim Guiles – meet at 44 Carver St., Brandon. No experience necessary. Wear comfortable shoes.
• 5:30 pm Democrats and Progressives marching together in the Rutland City Halloween Parade. The theme is “Don’t be dragon your feet, get out and vote.” Line-up is at 5:30. Parade start is at 6:30. All marchers must be in costume. You are allowed to have the name of the candidate on your person, but you are not allowed to add the words “vote for”, “elect” or anything else along those lines that would be considered politicking. If the candidate is currently in office we ask that they only use their name and not include the title of the office they hold. We further ask that you refrain from politicking before, during and after the parade. Put politics aside for one night and show your respect for this community. Flyers will not be permitted to be distributed; however you may choose to hand out candy/treats. You will need to place it in the bags of the children and under no circumstances will you be allowed to throw or drop candy out towards the crowd. This is a safety concern and will be strictly enforced. If you have questions, please contact hastevenson9@gmail.com.

Sunday October 28
• Canvassing for candidates Dave Potter & Ken Fredette – Contact Asha Carroll at acarroll@vtdemocrats.org for times, location, etc.
• 1:00 pm Senate Candidates Canvass – Meet at 11 Royce Street, Rutland City. No experience necessary. Wear comfortable shoes.

Week 1 – Encourage friends and family to vote; volunteer to drive voters to the polls or to join a candidate at the polls on voting day (even a few minutes of standing on the line can make a world of difference to a tired candidate eager for a little company)

Hope to see you at one or more of these events!

* To sign-up for emails/phone calls about upcoming canvassing opportunities, please email hastevenson9@gmail.com with the name of the district you’re interested in canvassing in.

* To get a lawn sign for a state-wide or county-candidate, email hastevenson9@gmail.com or the candidate. For a local Representative, contact that candidate.

* To contribute photos or stories to the Rutland County Democratic Website and/or Facebook, please email hastevenson9@gmail.com