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Remarks of Speaker Shap Smith on the opening of the 2009-10 Legislative Biennium

first_imgJanuary 7, 2009 – Thank you, and what a wonderful day it is today.  I want to begin by thanking my wife, Melissa.  She is a strong, compassionate, intelligent and beautiful woman and I am lucky to be married to her.  I also want to thank my children, Eli and Mia.  I am very lucky to have such wonderful, intelligent and (mostly) well-behaved kids.  To my family – my father and step-mother, my mother and step-father, my brothers and step-sister – thank you for your continued support.I also want to thank my colleagues here today.  I could not be more excited about working with such a smart and capable group of people in this House.  Over the coming months, we will disagree from time to time.  But disagreement is healthy – it allows us to tease out the best course of action and make the best decisions for Vermont.  I thank you in advance for these disagreements and for your hard work to ultimately reach the best decisions for all Vermonters.As we open this session, I want to reflect on an experience I had last year that brought into focus for me why I am here today; I’m sure all of you have had similar experiences that have brought into focus your own reasons for service in this body.Last October, on a beautiful fall day, I went with my daughter to pick up my son from school.  I had a busy day and wanted to get back to prepare dinner and make lunches.  But my kids wanted to go play.  I decided to stop and take a moment.  We went down to the swings and as my kids played on that beautiful October day, I looked out over the same playground that I had played on as a child.  I saw the same ball fields and the same schools that I had grown up with.  And I saw in the background the same Green Mountains that I had hiked in as a kid. I realized then, just how lucky I am to have been able to return and raise my kids in the same vibrant community I grew up in.  I also realized that it was the work of men and women in this same chamber 30 years ago that made this possible.  Their work preserved our working landscape and built our vibrant communities and outstanding school system.Now, just as legislators went to work 30 years ago to build a future for Vermont that allowed me to return and raise my children here, so too do we go to work today to help lay the groundwork for a similarly bright future for our children.Every Vermonter knows the seriousness of our state’s challenges in the coming weeks and months, but we must also look beyond the immediate crisis toward building a stronger, more vibrant state for the future.  Working together, we must all focus our efforts in this building over the coming months on the policies and priorities that will keep Vermonters working, warm and well.It is precisely because we must confront immediate and long-term challenges that we can and must rethink the way we think about our state government and the way we deliver services to Vermonters. Our work must focus the state on providing a helping hand when Vermonters need it most.  Our policies and priorities can and should:Keep Vermonters working by ensuring they have access to ongoing education and training and helping to create growth opportunities for Vermont businesses, particularly small businesses;Keep Vermonters warm by ensuring every Vermonter has access to safe and reliable heat in their homes and by building opportunities to weatherize their homes and businesses; and,Keep Vermonters well by partnering with them and their families to make sure they have access to quality and affordable health care and mental health services.As we confront our immediate budget challenges and as we work to craft policies across the board that keep Vermonters working, warm and well, it is imperative that our state government reaches these goals efficiently and effectively.We are now facing an immediate crisis, which requires an immediate response. This crisis is why today I am calling on this House to craft and pass a $150 million bond-based Economic Recovery package to keep Vermonters working now and in the future.The centerpiece of the proposal is a public works jobs program modeled after one championed by Governor Richard Snelling in 1983.  Together, we can keep Vermonters working and strengthen our state’s public assets for the future.Additionally, I am calling for a major reinvestment in Vermont’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.  Our roads, bridges, rail and public transit system keep the Vermont economy moving and current and future businesses are looking to us to ensure they are well constructed and maintained.While the economy will be the first order of business and at the top of our agenda, there are many other pressing needs this body must confront, from strengthening public safety laws to building a strong energy future and retaining our working landscape. With the talent and creativity I see here in this chamber today, I know that we can work together and accomplish important work for Vermonters both on the economy and on these other issues.Now is the time for decisive action.  Now is the time for this legislature to follow in the footsteps of the legislature 30 years ago, which built a Vermont in which we are all proud to raise our children.Now is the time to get to work, which is why on this opening day of the session, after the election of the Clerks and the adoption of our House rules, I shall direct the Clerk to journalize the appointment of the following committees:AGRICULTUREPartridge, Chair of WindhamLawrence, Vice-Chair of LyndonMalcolm ® of PawletAinsworth of RoyaltonBray of New HavenConquest of NewburyMcAllister of HighgateMcNeil of Rutland TownStevens of ShorehamTaylor of Barre CityToll of DanvilleAPPROPRIATIONSHeath, Chair of WestfordLarson, Vice-Chair of BurlingtonHelm ® of CastletonAcinapura of BrandonCrawford of BurkeJohnson of South HeroKeenan of St. Albans CityManwaring of WilmingtonMiller of ShaftsburyMinter of WaterburyMorley of BartonCOMMERCEKitzmiller, Chair of MontpelierMarcotte, Vice-Chair of CoventryShand ® of WeathersfieldBotzow of PownalBissonette of WinooskiClerkin of HartfordDickinson of St. Albans TownLorber of BurlingtonSmith of MendonTurner of MiltonWilson of ManchesterEDUCATIONDonovan, Chair of BurlingtonMook, Vice-Chair of BenningtonClark ® of VergennesGeier of South BurlingtonGilbert of FairfaxKilmartin of Newport CityPearce of RichfordPeltz of WoodburyPerley of EnosburgWaite-Simpson of EssexZenie of ColchesterFISH, WILDLIFE & WATER RESOURCESDeen, Chair of WestminsterAdams, Vice-Chair of HartlandMcCullough ® of WillistonBohi of HartfordFagan of Rutland CityLewis of DerbyNease of JohnsonSpengler of ColchesterWebb of ShelburneGENERAL, HOUSING & MILITARY AFFAIRSHead, Chair of South BurlingtonBaker, Vice-Chair of West RutlandMoran ® of WardsboroJohnson of CanaanRam of BurlingtonSavage of SwantonSouth of St. JohnsburyStevens of WaterburyGOVERNMENT OPERATIONSSweaney, Chair of WindsorAtkins, Vice-Chair of WinooskiDevereux ® of Mount HollyConsejo of SheldonEvans of EssexHigley of LowellHubert of MiltonLeriche of HardwickMartin of WolcottMcDonald of BerlinTownsend of RandolphAGRICULTUREPartridge, Chair of WindhamLawrence, Vice-Chair of LyndonMalcolm ® of PawletAinsworth of RoyaltonBray of New HavenConquest of NewburyMcAllister of HighgateMcNeil of Rutland TownStevens of ShorehamTaylor of Barre CityToll of DanvilleAPPROPRIATIONSHeath, Chair of WestfordLarson, Vice-Chair of BurlingtonHelm ® of CastletonAcinapura of BrandonCrawford of BurkeJohnson of South HeroKeenan of St. Albans CityManwaring of WilmingtonMiller of ShaftsburyMinter of WaterburyMorley of BartonCOMMERCEWhich I will ask the Rules Committee to rename the Committee on Commerce and Economic DevelopmentKitzmiller, Chair of MontpelierMarcotte, Vice-Chair of CoventryShand ® of WeathersfieldBotzow of PownalBissonette of WinooskiClerkin of HartfordDickinson of St. Albans TownLorber of BurlingtonSmith of MendonTurner of MiltonWilson of ManchesterEDUCATIONDonovan, Chair of BurlingtonMook, Vice-Chair of BenningtonClark ® of VergennesGeier of South BurlingtonGilbert of FairfaxKilmartin of Newport CityPearce of RichfordPeltz of WoodburyPerley of EnosburgWaite-Simpson of EssexZenie of ColchesterFISH, WILDLIFE & WATER RESOURCESDeen, Chair of WestminsterAdams, Vice-Chair of HartlandMcCullough ® of WillistonBohi of HartfordFagan of Rutland CityLewis of DerbyNease of JohnsonSpengler of ColchesterWebb of ShelburneGENERAL, HOUSING & MILITARY AFFAIRSHead, Chair of South BurlingtonBaker, Vice-Chair of West RutlandMoran ® of WardsboroJohnson of CanaanRam of BurlingtonSavage of SwantonSouth of St. JohnsburyStevens of WaterburyGOVERNMENT OPERATIONSSweaney, Chair of WindsorAtkins, Vice-Chair of WinooskiDevereux ® of Mount HollyConsejo of SheldonEvans of EssexHigley of LowellHubert of MiltonLeriche of HardwickMartin of WolcottMcDonald of BerlinTownsend of RandolphHEALTH CAREMaier, Chair of MiddleburyMilkey, Vice-Chair of BrattleboroWheeler ® of DerbyCopeland-Hanzas of BradfordGreshin of WarrenMorrissey of BenningtonO’Brien of RichmondPoirier of Barre CityTill of JerichoTrombley of Grand IsleWizowati of BurlingtonHUMAN SERVICESPugh, Chair of BurlingtonFisher, Vice-Chair of LincolnDonahue ® of NorthfieldAndrews of Rutland CityFrank of UnderhillFrench of RandolphHaas of RochesterMcFaun of Barre TownMrowicki of PutneyO’Donnell of VernonOrr of CharlotteINSTITUTIONSEmmons, Chair of SpringfieldMyers, Vice-Chair of EssexRodgers ® of GloverBrowning of ArlingtonDavis of WashingtonHooper of MontpelierKoch of Barre TownLarocque of BarnetLenes of ShelburneMacaig of WillistonReis of St. JohnsburyJUDICIARYLippert, Chair of HinesburgGrad, Vice-Chair of MoretownFlory ® of PittsfordDonaghy of PoultneyFrench of ShrewsburyJewett of RiptonKomline of DorsetMarek of NewfaneMartin of SpringfieldPellett of ChesterScheuermann of StoweNATURAL RESOURCES & ENERGYKlein, Chair of East MontpelierKrawczyk, Vice-Chair of BenningtonNuovo ® of MiddleburyCanfield of Fair HavenCheney of NorwichEdwards of BrattleboroJerman of Essex JunctionMitchell of BarnardWeston of BurlingtonWright of BurlingtonYoung of St. Albans CityTRANSPORTATIONWestman, Chair of CambridgePotter, Vice-Chair of ClarendonAudette ® of South BurlingtonAswad of BurlingtonBrennan of ColchesterBurke of BrattleboroCorcoran of BenningtonCourcelle of Rutland CityHowrigan of FairfieldLanpher of VergennesPeaslee of GuildhallWAYS & MEANSObuchowski, Chair of RockinghamAncel, Vice-Chair of CalaisBranagan ® of GeorgiaClarkson of WoodstockCondon of ColchesterHoward of RutlandHube of LondonderryMasland of ThetfordSharpe of BristolWinters of WilliamstownZuckerman of Burlingtonlast_img

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