Friday, October 27, 2006

Highlights of Accomplishments

It’s been an honor serving as a Citizen Legislator. I’ve voted on more than 200 bills, but rather than bore you with details, I’ll highlight four accomplishments:

1. Raising the Minimum Wage: when legislative leaders told me that we were six votes shy of raising the minimum wage by 25 cents an hour, I went to work. I met one-on-one with several dozen legislators, arguing the merits of the raise, until I could find those six extra votes. The net result: success. Now if the U.S. Congress could just do the same.

2. Banning Discrimination: everyone should live without discrimination, including transgendered Vermonters. I spoke individually with 100 of my House peers (across all party lines) about a bill that would have banned such discrimination. Bottom line: the bill passed overwhelmingly, including 18% of Republicans. But, the Governor vetoed it. I’ll continue to work on this cause if re-elected.

3. Securing More Funds for Battered Women: I serve on the House Institutions & Corrections Committee. That's where we create budgets for who gets which money for spending on government buildings and other long-term capital expenditures. One of the items up for debate was how much money we should spend on battered women's shelters. The Governor recommended $25,000, which was much less than the domestic violence agencies asked for. While I was shot down by my committee when I advocated for $100,000, my second recommendation for $50,000 was accepted, which is what the battered women's shelters received.

4. Addressing Prison Reform: I went to prison – willingly. Why? To find out the real problems in our Corrections System. Then I successfully championed legislation that sets a new direction for Corrections. Now, some women offenders will be released to a half-way house and be given the care and nurturing from nonprofit agencies to help them find a job, stay off drugs, care for their kids, and return to society productively. This may turn into a model for more successes.


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