House, Senate getting ready to kick off 2013

This year will feature plenty of contentious debates over things like the budget, health care, renewable energy and drug policy.

But today will be more style than substance as lawmakers settle in for the rituals of the new biennium.

The House chamber is already beginning to fill up in anticipation of the election of Shap Smith to a third term as Speaker of the House. Smith will then deliver a speech to the 150-person body before presiding over the swearing in of new members.

The Senate ceremonies will go down in much the same way, though Senate President John Campbell faces a challenge for pro tem in the form of Republican Diane Snelling.

Advocates will try to make an early mark on elected officials. A coalition of environmental groups convened a press conference earlier this morning to seek assurances from lawmakers to improve the quality of Vermont’s waterways. The Vermont Workers Center is holding a rally at 11:30 this morning telling lawmakers to “Put people first.” The group tends to come out in large numbers, and will be seeking a budget geared toward the interests of low- and working-class Vermonters.

A couple unions – 1199SEIU and AFSCME – are on hand today in advance of their legisaltive push to organize about 6,000 home-care workers in the state.

Stay tuned here at for live updates from the festivities.




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