Final reading: Rep. Kate Donnally resigns, calling legislation an ‘impossible act of juggling’

Rep. Kate Donnally, D-Hyde Park, is stepping down from her House seat effective tomorrow, citing personal reasons.

The second-term lawmaker broke the news in her regular column for the News & Citizen, which went online early Thursday. In it, she said she “did not come to this decision easily or lightly.”

“Since beginning my service in the Vermont House of Representatives, I have grappled with a host of conflicting truths,” she continued. One truth, she says, is that she loves the work of a legislator. The other “is that this work has become an impossible act of juggling”.

“One of the strengths I brought to this role was the many hats I wear in my life. Ironically, the legislature as it is currently designed does not allow you to wear a multitude of hats sustainably” , Donnally wrote, “It asks you to give up money, schedule stability, accessibility to family and more without considering the mental, emotional and family toll these demands demand.”

Vermont is a part-time Citizens’ Legislature, between January and May. It also makes up for it as a part-time gig, paying around $13,000 over five months, despite requiring what many lawmakers say are year-round obligations. The job also doesn’t provide health insurance or child care, making the service a logistical nightmare for many lawmakers. Over the years, legislators have had to bow out due to low salaries, family obligations, medical diagnoses or the reality of a full-time job that does not allow for five months of full-time lawmaking in Montpellier. .

“I have wanted so badly to find that elusive place that allows me to continue doing this job I love without sacrificing my mental health and the health of my marriage and my family,” Donnally wrote Thursday. “I finally came to the painful conclusion that such a balance simply does not exist. It ultimately became a choice between the Legislative Assembly and my life as I know it.

Donnally declined to interview VTDigger about her decision to leave her seat, saying she wanted to maintain some confidentiality around the decision. But she pointed to a video of a Lamoille County candidates’ debate in October, in which she said serving in the Legislative Assembly had been “brutally tough” on her financially and personally, especially as a than a queer person. During the debate, she said one of the first things she did when she decided to run for office was change the locks on her house.

“In my time serving, over two years, I was directly targeted by the Vermont GOP. I had my face plastered on social media with the word “extremism” written underneath. It was shared on social media with the hashtag ‘groomer’, which basically means that because I support the care of gay and trans youth, I’m sort of a child molester,” he said. she declared. “These things put my life in danger. And when I talk to members of the state legislature who identify as gay, who are black and brown, they all have their own stories of this type of treatment.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott will ultimately fill Donnally’s vacant seat, choosing from a list of candidates nominated by local political parties. It is customary for the governor to choose the party of the outgoing member. Scott’s spokesperson Jason Maulucci told VTDigger on Thursday that the process typically takes several weeks.

—Sarah Merhoff


Organic dairy producers pleaded with state lawmakers on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees on Thursday to provide emergency funding during an economic crisis in the industry.

As many as 25 to 30 of the state’s 139 organic dairy farms are at risk of closing in the first half of 2023 without “swift and substantial intervention,” Maddie Kempner, director of policy for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, told reporters. legislators. .

Vermont lost 11 organic dairies in 2021 and 18 in 2022, NOFA-VT officials said.

The organization proposed that lawmakers allocate $9.2 million to organic farms through the Budget Adjustment Act. The payments would be structured so that farms receive an additional $5 per hundredweight on their 2022 sales.

Learn more here.

—Emma Cotton

Former Secretary of State Jim Condos seems to be enjoying his recent retirement as a top state election official by… weighing in on legislation regarding local elections. On Wednesday, the same day Governor Phil Scott announced he had signed H.42 and extended Covid-19-era voting options for the town meeting season, Condos circulated a ‘letter of concern’ to the Government Operations Committees of the House and Senate.

Condos challenged the new law’s extension of certain adjustments to the Open Meetings Act until June 2024 rather than just for the current season, writing, “The OML is not and should not be used to facilitate the conduct of business by state/local government officials – rather and above all, it is to ensure the public’s right to know.

—Mike Dougherty


U.S. Senator Peter Welch, D-Vt., and U.S. Representative Becca Balint, D-Vt., received their missions of the first committee.

Welch was assigned seats on four high-level Senate committees, including the agriculture, commerce, justice and rules committees.

Balint will serve on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, his office confirmed Thursday, and more assignments will likely be announced in the coming days.

The first-term Rep.’s committee assignments, along with those of the rest of the U.S. House, have been suspended for weeks in large part due to a historic battle over the Speakership of the House, which has delayed the chamber from the beginning of its legislative work.

Welch’s assignments also come after weeks of waiting as Senate leaders established appropriate partisan splits from each committee in a tightly divided chamber.

Learn more here.

—Sarah Merhoff

Welch now joins fellow senior U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in sounding the alarm on Planned hike in Covid-19 vaccine price by Moderna.

In a letter co-signed by fellow New Englander and lowercase progressive U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Tuesday, Welch said Moderna’s announced plans to quadruple the cost of the vaccine “could prolong the crisis.” public health damage caused by COVID-19 and leave many uninsured Americans simply unable to afford the vaccine.

The senators’ letter comes as Moderna reportedly plans to raise the price of the vaccine by $110 to $130 per dose. They wrote that the company should already generate at least $5 billion in additional revenue this year, on top of its $12 billion in net income raked in in 2021, even without the price hike.

Welch spokeswoman Emily Becker told VTDigger that senators were concerned about “troubling price trends for lifesaving vaccines, developed with the support of taxpayer funding.” In October, Pfizer announced plans to raise the price of its own vaccine to $130 per dose, prompting a similar letter from Warren and Welch to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in December.

In Tuesday’s letter, the senators wrote that Moderna’s decision so soon after “questions raised by Pfizer about how Pfizer’s similar announcement about vaccine price increases in October 2022 may have influenced the Moderna’s decision-making process regarding its vaccine prices”.

Welch and Warren’s letter to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel follows a similar letter from Sanders, which he sent to Bancel earlier this month. The new chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions called the move an example of “unacceptable corporate greed.”

“How many of these Americans will die of COVID-19 due to limited access to these lifesaving vaccines?” Sanders asked at the time.

—Sarah Merhoff


Caledonia sheriff offered himself and his staff bonuses totaling $400,000 before quitting (VTDigger)

More than half of Orange County sheriff’s deputies will leave with the current sheriff next week (VTDigger)

Parking changes at Stowe Mountain Resort raise concerns about access to outdoor recreation (VTDigger)

Woodstock approves $330,000 in grants to create up to 79 new child care niches (VTDigger)

Amid a housing crisis, some golf courses are eyeing up for development (Seven Days)

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