May 9 Legislative Update

We have been making some serious progress at the State House on increasing access to health care, gun safety, earned sick time, and most recently universal college savings accounts for children and a consumer protection bill.

Universal college savings accounts for children is one strategy we can use to knock down barriers to higher education and help end generational poverty. The bill creates a program for every child born in Vermont, starting in 2016, with a savings account for college, a seed deposit, and a financial literacy program that follows the child and family from cradle to college. All seed funds would come from private foundations and businesses.

We have some serious challenges in Vermont when it comes to higher education. More than 50% of Vermonters do not possess a college degree, the percentage of children in poverty in Vermont is rising, and Vermont will need an additional 58,000 college degrees to meet its workforce demands by 2025. Research shows that when low to moderate income children have a savings account with anywhere from $1 to $499, they are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate. We have a great opportunity through this public private partnership, to give every Vermont child a chance at higher education.

The Consumer Protection bill, also known as the rent to own bill, will help protect the most financial vulnerable Vermonters. The bill offers protections from high interest rates at Rent-to-Own type stores. Reports show 75% of people with contracts at these stores never actually end up owning merchandise. Passage will make us one of 31 regulating states and seven to cap prices. Further protections are extended which include onsite advertising of all applicable costs, condition of merchandise, contract terms, and collection practices.

This coming Monday at the State House, the House Health Care Committee will hold a hearing on whether we should eliminate the philosophical exemption for vaccines. The hearing will take place in Room 11, from 5:30-7:30pm. In addition, this will be the final week of the legislative session. We’ll be taking up and finishing business on an economic development bill, child protection, and the budget to name a few.

Leave Your Comment