The Education Committee spent much time traveling across the state to hear from school board members and school teachers and administrators about their experiences with 2014’s Act 46, designed to encourage school districts to consolidate in order to realize efficiencies and cost savings and ultimately lower property taxes. From the information we gleaned, we made several revisions to the Act to make consolidation more achievable for more districts. As a result, since 2014, 139 school districts have merged into 34 unified districts, and almost 52,000 students, or 66% of Vermont’s pupils, now attend schools in unified districts. Such consolidation is effective in keeping costs down while preserving the quality of instruction, the array of subjects offered, and local control of schools.
These are just a handful of highlights from a busy legislative session, and 2018 will be just as busy. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time regarding bills that concern you, or legislation you think should be introduced. My goal is to make the lives of my constituents, and all Vermonters, better.
Congressman Peter Welch campaigned with Debbie in her 2012 bid for the State Senate.
I serve on the Health and Welfare Committee and on the Education Committee. Both handled important legislation during the 2017 session. Health and Welfare shepherded a comprehensive Mental Health bill designed to fill in gaps in the system in order to better care for the increasingly high volume of patients. The bill addresses the number of beds needed to move patients more quickly out of emergency room treatment and the resources, including appropriations to raise the salaries of mental health care providers at agencies like Chittenden County’s HowardCenter, needed to ensure the stability and quality of this important workforce.
We also passed expanded access to telemedicine services, a bill which I introduced, by which health care providers in many fields, including counseling, physical therapy, and nutrition, can meet with patients through HIPAA-compliant video technology at remote sites. This use of technology will help patients like those in rural areas or those with mobility issues to access providers more quickly and easily. chers' contracts overall, and not just health care, are handled in future. This may mean substantial change, minor change, or no change at all.