Archives: Past Vermont Updates
Keeping Vermonters Warm This Winter
Frigid weather has hit Vermont hard this winter and some Vermonters are already maxing out their fuel assistance. If you or someone you know is struggling to pay for heat, help may be available. We have got to make sure that not one Vermonter goes cold this winter or has to make the unacceptable choice between heating their homes and feeding their families. Please call my Burlington office to learn more about programs that may be able to help: (800)-339-9834 (toll-free) or (802) 862-0697.
Sharing Holiday Cheer With Vermont Seniors
I am very pleased to have organized six senior holiday meals throughout Vermont in December. Over the years, we have built this wonderful tradition that helps strengthen the bonds of our community during the holiday season. Nearly 1,000 Vermonters joined us this year. Each meal featured local middle school or high school choirs, delicious food and lots of good cheer.
Talking With Students
It’s important that our students understand their job and college options as they prepare to graduate high school. That’s why I held an informal discussion with students at Peoples Academy in Morrisville in early December. What I heard is that we are not getting the kind of information out to the young people that we should. We must give our students the tools they need so they can make the best choices about colleges or the careers that they want to pursue.
Student Town Meeting on Opioids
I recently went to Burlington High School to talk to the student body about the opioid crisis that claimed the lives of 60,000 Americans last year, including 112 Vermonters. I wanted to hear from them because -- on this issue of opioid and heroin addiction and on the question of why so many young people are turning to drugs -- I believe our nation’s young people might know more than the experts. What I heard and learned from these high school students was truly insightful.
Vermont College Fairs
When you grow up in a family where Mom and Dad didn't go to college, sometimes the very idea of college is a dream that you never really imagine you can fulfill. Our job now is to figure out how to help our students find the financial aid that is out there, and figure out what schools are good for them. That's why I held college fairs at Lyndon State College and Castleton University earlier this month.
College for All
In the richest country on Earth, every student who has the ability and desire should be able to get a college degree without taking on a mountain of debt. Earlier this fall, I held a town meeting in Castleton to discuss my College for All legislation. We heard Vermonters share their experiences of struggling to afford higher education. I want to hear from you, as well. Together, we will ensure people in Vermont and throughout the United States can obtain the education they deserve, regardless of their family’s income.
Transforming Our Energy System
I visited the Photovoltaic Test Center in Williston, which is gathering data on the performance of different solar technologies in Vermont’s wet and cold climate. This project is a small, but important part of the effort to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energies. I am especially proud that three Vermont companies are testing innovative solar technologies at the center.
Helping Feed Vermonters
More than one in 10 Vermonters have trouble affording food for themselves and their families. Organizations like the Intervale Center, Vermont Foodbank and Salvation Farms are doing a terrific job getting locally grown food from farms to low-income Vermonters. Each year, Vermont farmers donate more than 600,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to help feed Vermonters in need.
Integrating Mental and Behavioral Health Care
To make real progress on the state of health care in America, we have to fully integrate mental and behavioral health care with physical health care. For too long, our broken health care system treats them as separate issues. I’m proud Vermont has received a significant federal grant to improve mental health services for Vermont families, including those who have experienced childhood trauma and generations of stress and poverty. Our federally funded Community Health Centers and Community Mental Health Centers are doing extraordinary work every day, and this federal grant will help take that work to the next level.
Read more here.
Labor Day in Vermont
"We have to come together and demand a government that works for all of us, not just the one percent," Bernie said on Labor Day to 500 people during a rally in White River Junction. Later, in Middlebury, he spoke with nearly 1,000 more Vermonters about the history of Labor Day, the need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and the fight to make sure women get equal pay for equal work.
Coping with Disasters
Six years ago, after Tropical Storm Irene caused devastation across Vermont, I went to the floor of the U.S. Senate to urge my colleagues to pass much-needed federal disaster assistance. At the time, I said, ‘This natural disaster reminds us that we are all Americans, and that when any one community is in trouble, we pull together as Americans. That’s what being a nation is all about.’ Today, at a time when many in Washington seek to divide us with heated political rhetoric, we must similarly pull together and rally for those who had their lives upended by historic flooding in Houston. We are strongest when we stand together.
Supporting Community Health Centers
More than 171,000 Vermonters now obtain their health care from community health centers, which not only provide high-quality and affordable care where it’s needed and when it’s needed, they do it in a very cost-effective way. I am glad to announce that 11 federally qualified health centers in Vermont will receive more than $800,000 in additional federal funding.
Telephone Town Hall
Sen. Bernie Sanders held a telephone town hall with more than 15,000 Vermonters in mid-July. Bernie held the statewide call to give an update on crucial issues facing Vermont and the United States, including the disastrous Republican plan to take health care away from 22 million Americans. He also touched on President Donald Trump’s budget, which would give huge tax breaks to billionaires, while making massive cuts to education, environmental protection and the needs of children and seniors. The telephone town hall provided an opportunity for Vermonters to ask Bernie questions about the proposed legislation, budget and other issues they are concerned about.
Listen to Bernie’s telephone town hall here.
Dairy in Vermont: 'A Difficult Situation'
Vermont now has less than 820 dairy farms – down from more than 6,000 farms in 1965. Longtime dairy farmer Bill Rowell of Sheldon, Vermont, explains: “The issue that we have, consistently, year after year, is the price of milk. And the volatility that exists in the price of milk is disheartening when you can work an entire year and borrow money to produce milk. It just doesn’t make sense.” Rowell is hoping for a solution. “All we are asking for is that we put our heads together ... and come up with a program that will benefit the farmer.” As Rowell notes, when Vermont farms struggle, so does Vermont’s rural economy.
2017 State of the Union Essay Contest Roundtable
"I think if every adult in the state of Vermont listened to what these 19 kids had to say, they would be deeply impressed and feel very good about the younger generation," Bernie said following his roundtable discussion at the Vermont Statehouse with the finalists in his seventh annual State of the Union essay contest. "These kids are bright. They are committed." A panel of six Vermont teachers judged the essays and selected the winner and finalists. More than 650 Vermont high school students from 42 schools wrote essays describing what issues they would prioritize if they were president of the United States
‘We Are a Nation of Immigrants’
“We are a nation of immigrants that has a proud history of welcoming the oppressed with open arms. We must not turn our backs at a time when so many innocent civilians – mostly women and children – desperately need our help. If cities like Burlington, Winooski and Rutland want to open their arms to refugees, President Trump should not stand in their way,” Bernie wrote in a letter to Vermonters. “We must not allow President Trump to divide the American people with anti-immigrant and xenophobic hysteria. We are better than that.”
Zuckerman Outlines his Priorities as
Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor
Vermont’s newly elected lieutenant governor, David Zuckerman, says he plans to focus on promoting rural economic development and boosting wages for Vermonters by raising the minimum wage. “Rural communities across the country are struggling,” said Zuckerman, who adds he wants to “level the playing field and make the system more fair for working people.”
Vermont’s Snowmobiling Season Underway,
As New LVRT Sections Open
Vermont’s snowmobile season has begun. This year, Vermonters and visitors to our state will be able to enjoy newly opened sections of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Cindy Locke, the executive director of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, credits the trail with providing an economic boost to the region. “We have seen businesses growing — businesses being born — because of this trail,” she said. “It is going to do so much for the economy of northern Vermont.” Bernie secured more than $5 million to build the trail on a 93-mile abandoned rail bed.
As Vermont’s AG, Donovan to Focus on
Criminal Justice Reform
T.J. Donovan shared his thoughts on his agenda as Vermont’s next attorney general, including his focus on criminal justice reform. “The poor don’t have a monopoly on committing crime, but that is who is represented in the criminal justice system, by and large. And it becomes a cycle,” Donovan said. “Poverty plays a role in this.”
Converting Methane Gas to Electricity
Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastation across the world. We have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is both healthy and habitable. The best way we can do that is by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. The Washington Electric Co-op, right here in Vermont, is helping lead the way toward a clean energy economy by using waste methane -- a renewable fuel – from Vermont’s only operating landfill to power roughly 6,000 homes.
Torin Kearns, 22, of Lincoln, Vermont, said considering the cost of college is stressful. "When you get out of college -- having all this debt pile up and a job that might not necessarily make you back all that money in a decent amount of time — it’s scary," he said. "If kids want education, they should be able to have it."
On average, in Vermont, students graduate from college $28,283 in debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
Heating Our Cities with Renewable Energy
With a significant boost from federal stimulus funds, District Heat Montpelier is up and running, heating dozens of state, municipal and private buildings in Vermont’s capital city. Fueled by an innovative wood-chip fired boiler, the project is part of Vermont’s efforts to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable sources of energy.
This fall, Krysta Gingue, 20, became a junior at the University of New Hampshire. The Lyndonville, Vermont, college student credits Upward Bound for helping her get there. “I can absolutely say that it is the best thing that has happened, academically and socially, in my life,” she said. Gingue, who is a first-generation college student, was one of hundreds of students who gathered in Castleton this summer to recognize what they have been able to achieve, thanks to Upward Bound.
National Housing Trust Funded
Bernie helped lead a 15-year effort to create the National Housing Trust Fund, which is based on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. Vermont is slated to receive $3 million from the fund. Vermont’s share is part of $174 million that is being dispersed nationally to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. “Since my time as mayor of Burlington, increasing the availability of affordable housing in Vermont has been one of my top priorities,” Bernie said. “After 15 years of fighting for the National Housing Trust Fund, I am very pleased to see all 50 states receive funds to provide housing for people who are most in need.”