Women Making a Difference Brunch

Ladies and gentlemen, please join us in celebrating 13 years of Women Making a Difference across our treasured state of Vermont. We’ll be treated to three special guests from the local community who make things happen. We will be honoring the following women:
– Anny Lin ~ Student activist, dreamer, global citizen
– Tabitha J. Pohl-Moore ~ Mother, activist, small business owner
– Barbara Carris ~ Artist, advocate for the arts and women and children’s rights.

Tickets: Suggested donation of $35; with a special price of $15 for people aged 29 and younger.

To purchase tickets: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/brunchtickets2019 or send check to Rutland County Democratic Party, P.O. Box 933, Rutland, VT 05702.

Please RSVP by April 21: Kathy Hall 802-483-2979 or krhall297@aol.com

Hope to see you there!

Past brunches have always been enjoyable escapes from our daily routine to a special event with special people. Please join us for this very inspiring event. All are welcome

Our plans for 2019

We have a lot of plans for the upcoming year!

  • Planning earlier and smarter for a robust 2020 election cycle
  • Recruiting NOW for strong candidates to win more Democratic legislative seats in 2020
  • Supporting our current Democratic officeholders
  • Strengthening Democratic town committees in the county
  • Community engagement through parades, forums, canvassing and grassroots activism
  • Engaging more young people in our efforts

For more details, please see our Spring 2019 letter.

To support our efforts, please donate to the Rutland County Democrats today, so that in 2020 all of our energy is dedicated to supporting our incumbents and successfully fielding new Democratic candidates to represent Rutland County.

Every dollar stays in Rutland County; every contribution helps: Donate here!

Thank you for everything you’re doing to support our community! You’re making a huge difference!

Reproductive Rights in VT

Why do we need legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights in Vermont? Currently there are over 12 cases related to restricting access to abortion heading to the Supreme Court. By taking steps now, Vermont can ensure that we have leverage if Roe v. Wade is in fact overturned.

Vermont legalized abortion in 1972 through a court case (Beecham v Leahy) one year before the Supreme Court case Roe.v Wade. In Vermont there are no laws currently on the books restricting access to abortion care, such as waiting periods or parental notification. There are also no laws on the books preserving access to abortion care.

H.57 will codify abortion access in Vermont, mirroring what is in practice now.

PR.5 will codify a person’s reproductive rights

Reasons to support this legislation:

All people deserve medically sound, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate sexual and reproductive health information. It is a deeply personal decision of whether, when, and how to become a parent. When a woman has decided to end her pregnancy, she should be able to get safe, timely, affordable care in her community, without anyone shaming, threatening, or trying to impose their beliefs on her. We cannot know all the personal and medical circumstances behind someone’s decision to have an abortion. Every person’s situation is different, and we should respect that this decision is hers to make, with her family and in accordance with her faith.

It’s an issue of access to care, and of economics. Women make up nearly half the workforce and play a vital role in our economy’s success. When women are able to control their reproductive decisions, they are able to make their own decisions about their participation in the workforce, in their communities, and Vermont is stronger for it. Women are justified in being concerned about the financial consequences of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. Because the responsibility of raising a child born after being denied an abortion falls disproportionately on women, restricting abortion access threatens women’s economic security. Giving birth, instead of being able to access a wanted abortion, vastly increases the odds that a woman’s household income will be below the Federal Poverty Level and that she will note be able to cover basic living needs.

In league with top medical professionals, the Vermont Medical Society has submitted testimony to the House Human Services Committee supporting H.57.

When women have access to the full range of reproductive health care it helps them control their lives, health, and future, and we are all better off.

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