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Release: Leahy tackles homelessness

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Tuesday reintroduced bipartisan legislation to curb youth homelessness, which affects 1.6 million teens throughout the country who are among the most likely to become victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) joined as original bill cosponsors.  Leahy noted that the winter snowstorms in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions currently threatening the safety of thousands of Americans spotlight the importance of passing this bipartisan bill to ensure that homeless children are not left to face such challenges alone.  Leahy said:  “Homelessness is on the rise for youths and young adults.  Too many young people in Vermont and around the country find themselves without safe places to sleep at night.  These programs, offering outreach and early intervention for runaway and homeless teens, are the last line of defense for teens in crisis.  Youth homelessness also can be a pipeline to chronic homelessness, victimization, sexual exploitation and trafficking in urban and rural communities.  It’s our job in Congress to do what we can to counter this tragic reality, this scandal in the shadows.  I am proud to say that last year, 95 percent of teens receiving services from the Vermont Coalition for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs were able to exit to safe living situations.”

 Thirty-nine percent of the homeless population is under the age of 18, and the average age at which a teen becomes homeless is 14.7 years old.  A 2013 study by the Convenant House offers startling details about the connection between youth homelessness and human trafficking.  The Leahy-Collins Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act reauthorizes programs that help youth obtain housing, education and job training.  The bill includes training for service providers to identify victims of trafficking, and it includes a new provision that prohibits grantees from denying services based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Leahy and Collins introduced similar legislation last year, which earned bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee but stalled in the Senate.  Leahy has long been a champion of youth services provided by the original Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act and fought for its reauthorization in 1998 and again in 2003.  He has also worked for years to counter the tragedy of human trafficking, most recently by including a reauthorization of the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act as part of his Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013, and by supporting increased appropriations for trafficking victims under last year’s Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Continue Reading →

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Release: Sanders introduces infrastructure bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced far-reaching legislation to rebuild America’s crumbling network of roads, bridges and transit systems and other infrastructure projects. The five-year plan would invest $1 trillion and create or maintain at least 13 million decent-paying jobs, said Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee ranking member. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the ranking member of the appropriations committee, and it is backed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the AFL-CIO and others. “For too many years, we’ve underfunded our nation’s physical infrastructure. We have to change that and that’s what the Rebuild America Act is all about. Continue Reading →

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Release: New NRB board member named

Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced that Chair of the Natural Resources Board (NRB) Ron Shems has decided to step down after four years on the Board. He will be replaced Jon Groveman, currently the general counsel for the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR).  “I want to thank Ron for his hard work over the past four years,” Gov. Shumlin said. “He always sought to ensure that development in Vermont happened in a way consistent with our values. I wish him all the best.”
The NRB administers Act 250, Vermont’s land use law. Continue Reading →

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Release: Welch stands up for privacy with GPS Act

Rep. Peter Welch, joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Jon Conyers Jr. (D-MI), reintroduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act (GPS Act) last week.  The legislation creates clear rules about when law enforcement agencies can access and track Americans’ electronic location data.  “Cell phones are in the pockets and purses of most Americans,” said Welch. “While tracking technology has transformed our lives in many positive ways, it also poses a risk to privacy through potential misuse of tracking data.  The time has come to modernize our statutes to reflect the technology of our age.  This bipartisan legislation protects Americans’ right to privacy while ensuring law enforcement officials are able do their important jobs.”
 “Buying a smartphone shouldn’t be interpreted as giving the government a free pass to track your movements,” said Wyden. “GPS data can be a valuable tool for law enforcement, but our laws need to keep up with technology and set out exactly when and how the government can collect Americans’ electronic location data.”
 “As technology makes tracking people’s movements easier and less expensive, we need to update our laws to protect privacy and respect individual rights,” said Chaffetz. “In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, which was certainly a step in the right direction, we need clarification specific to the use of GPS technology. Continue Reading →

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Release: Speaker seeks input on economic development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 20, 2014

CONTACT:
Dylan Giambatista
(802) 828-2245

HOUSE SPEAKER SHAP SMITH SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB GROWTH STRATEGIES

Montpelier, Vt. – House Speaker Shap Smith today asked Vermonters, employers, policy makers and stakeholders to submit proposals for economic development and job growth strategies for consideration in the legislative biennium. “On the first day of the session, I called on lawmakers to work together as we strive to create an atmosphere of opportunity across Vermont. It is in this spirit that we are asking for public input on state economic development strategies,” announced Speaker Smith. The Speaker’s Office launched a similar initiative in December, requesting public input for education system reforms. Vermonters responded by submitting over 85 education proposals. Continue Reading →

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Release: Hearing on gas prices set for Thursday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 16, 2015

CONTACT:
Dylan Giambatista
802-828-2245

House Speaker Shap Smith Announces Jan. 22 Hearing to Discuss High Gas Prices

House Speaker Shap Smith today announced tri-partisan support for public hearings to investigate the cost of gasoline in Northwestern Vermont, which can be up to 30 or 40 cents higher than prices found in other parts of the state. The hearings will be held on Thursday, January 22 from 5:00 – 7:00pm in Room 11 of the State House. “Folks who live or travel around Northwestern Vermont ask why filling up at the pump is so expensive,” explained Speaker Smith. “Although fuel prices have dropped nationally and across Vermont, the cost reduction has not kept pace in our Northwest communities. Continue Reading →

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Leahy leads delegation to Cuba

WASHINGTON (AP) — A delegation of congressional Democrats began a three-day visit to Cuba on Saturday to discuss expectations for the normalization of relations between the United States and the island nation. The delegation’s leader, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said in a statement Saturday that the lawmakers want to explore opportunities for greater cooperation and to encourage Cuban officials to address issues of concern to Americans and their representatives in Congress. Traveling with Leahy were Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and congressmen Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning a trade mission to Cuba to promote the state, spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said Saturday. Continue Reading →

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Sanders proposes moratorium on Postal Service cuts

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed legislation to impose a two-year ban on the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to cut up to 15,000 jobs, close more mail-sorting plants and stop overnight delivery of first-class mail and periodicals. Sanders, an independent, filed the proposal Friday as an amendment to a bill pending in the full Senate. Sanders said the Postal Service has closed 141 mail-processing plants since 2012 and wants to close as many as 82 facilities. He says unless Congress acts, the cuts could affect thousands of workers in 37 states. Continue Reading →

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