MONTPELIER, VT. – The Vermont House of Representatives today passed a bill to enhance protections for residents of mobile home parks. The proposal, H.123, requires that mobile home park owners ensure tenant safety by maintaining safe roads and access points for emergency use.
“The protections advanced by the House embody the essential role of state government,” explained House Speaker Shap Smith. “Working to ensure the health and safety of all Vermonters – rural, urban, low and moderate income – is vital to the health of our communities and state."
When Tropical Storm Irene struck Vermont, sixteen mobile home parks experienced flooding. First responders and advocates reported that the dilapidated roadway conditions in some mobile home parks slowed disaster response times. As a result, the General Assembly directed the Department of Housing and Community Development to investigate the difficulties confronting mobile home communities. Rep. Bill Botzow introduced H.123 to act on the Department’s recommendations.
Rep. Helen Head, the Chair of House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, praised the outcome of the bill: “This bill creates a path for enforcement of health and safety, ensuring that ambulances and fire trucks can get in to help residents in our mobile home parks. All Vermonters should have access to emergency services in their time of need,” she concluded.
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.
House Speaker Shap Smith announced tri-partisan support today 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. I have instructed the House Transportation and Commerce Committees to hold a public hearing to investigate this matter and report back with recommendations for next steps.”
On Wednesday, January 7th, 2015, Shap Smith was nominated to serve as the Speaker of the House for the 2015 - 2016 biennium. In delivering his acceptance speech, the Speaker outlined many of the challenges facing Vermont, including health care reform, Lake Champlain clean up, as well as how critical it will be for legislators to maintain and promote economic opportunity throughout the state. The full, verbatim text of the speech is posted below and a video of the speech can be seen here.
As January winds down, the State House is humming with activity. Our first weeks included the Governor's election, the State of the Union speech and the Budget address. I was honored to be elected to my fourth term as Speaker on the first day of the session, and share my colleagues’ sense of urgency to tackle key priorities.
Legislators heard during the 2014 campaign that Vermonters are feeling the financial pinch. Many hear about the growing economy and rising stockmarket yet don't see it in their paychecks. They feel the impact of rising health care costs, property taxes, food and other items. People are having a hard time making ends meet, plain and simple.
Four years ago, this body first elected me to serve as Speaker of the House. I am humbled now, as I was then, by the faith that you have placed in me to serve as your Speaker. I hope to honor that faith over the coming two years as we work together to make Vermont a better place.
In the years since I was first elected Speaker, our state and country has experienced a grave economic downturn and politics have become increasingly polarized on the national level. The political culture in the nation’s capital has left many discouraged and, quite frankly, disgusted. As the country faces monumental challenges -- huge future fiscal imbalances, crumbling infrastructure and an education system that is not preparing our children for citizenry or the work force, many openly wonder whether our leaders and systems are capable of putting aside their differences, rolling up their sleeves and laying a foundation for a strong future.