Governor Scott Addresses Local Issues at Legislative Breakfast

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Governor Scott Addresses Local Issues at Legislative Breakfast

Governor of Vermont Phil Scott addresses constituents at the Addison County Legislative Breakfast.

Governor of Vermont Phil Scott addresses constituents at the Addison County Legislative Breakfast.

BENJY RENTON

Governor of Vermont Phil Scott addresses constituents at the Addison County Legislative Breakfast.

BENJY RENTON

BENJY RENTON

Governor of Vermont Phil Scott addresses constituents at the Addison County Legislative Breakfast.

By BENJY RENTON

MIDDLEBURY — While the scrambled eggs were hot, the topics of discussion were even hotter at the Addison County Governor’s Breakfast. A group of around 40 residents and college students gathered in the Middlebury American Legion early on Monday, March 18 for breakfast with Governor Phil Scott and various Addison County state senators and representatives.

Addison is the only state county that hosts a legislative breakfast every Monday during the legislative session.  Elected officials took the opportunity to update their constituents on the progress they and their committees have made in the Legislature. State senators Christopher Bray and Ruth Hardy discussed the debates and passing of bills relating to environmental regulations, rural economic development and a pilot program for career and technical education.

Governor Scott began the breakfast with a short speech outlining the three priorities of his administration: growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable and protecting the most vulnerable.

“To achieve this future, we need be honest about the challenges we face,” he said. He also addressed Vermont’s stagnant and aging population — since 2009, Vermont’s labor force has declined by 15,000 workers and Addison County’s public school enrollment has suffered a 25% decrease (1400 students) since 2004.

“That’s not a recipe for economic growth,” Scott said. “My agenda this session focuses on Vermonters finding a job and starting a career.” Some of Scott’s other priorities include increasing investments in education and early childcare, putting a tax on e-cigarettes, and identifying residents interested in relocating to Vermont. “We need more taxpayers, not more taxes,” Scott said.

Following the governor’s speech, residents were invited to ask questions of their legislators and governor. Alec Fleischer ’20.5 had the first question of the morning, asking Scott what actions he will take to combat the threat of climate change. Fleischer, who is a member of the Sunday Night Environmental Group and Divest Middlebury organizations on campus, cited the recent passage of bills during Middlebury’s town meeting to support the 350VT Climate Solutions Resolution.

“We’re doing a pretty good job on the electrical front; we just need to do a better job on the transportation front,” Scott said. He believes that protecting the environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.

Other questions delved into topics such as Vermont’s healthcare system, the opioid crisis, a potential statewide plastic bag ban and weatherization. “I’m a conservative Vermonter, very frugal by nature, trying not to waste,” Scott said when asked whether he would support S.113, an act currently in the legislature relating to the prohibition of plastic carryout bags, expanded polystyrene and single-use plastic straws.

Middlebury resident Andrew Pezzulo asked Scott whether he would make Election Day a paid holiday in Vermont, mentioning the high turnout in Addison County of 64% in the 2018 midterm election. “It is a civic duty…I’m open-minded,” Scott replied.

Later in the day, Hardy and Bray joined state representative Amy Sheldon ’88 at a Center for Community Engagement “Lunch with Legislators,” a program organized by the center’s Privilege and Poverty academic cluster. Over lunch, the legislators discussed a variety of topics, including the environment, the county’s economy, college-community relations and poverty alleviation.

Sponsored by the Bridport Grange No. 303 and the Addison County Farm Bureau, the next legislative breakfast will be held on March 25 at the Congregational Church in Salisbury.

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