by Guy Page
Vermont House Democrats Saturday December 5 chose a former professional abortion rights lobbyist and a solar power developer to leadership positions for the 2021-2022 Legislative Biennium.
According to the caucus Facebook page, Representative Jill Krowinski (Burlington) was the unanimous nominee for Speaker of the House. The University of Pittsburgh graduate worked for eight years at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, her last role as the VP of Education and VT Community Affairs, according to her legislative website biography. She is also an advisory board member and executive director of Emerge Vermont, a ‘boot camp’ for Democratic women candidates. Democratic Majority Leader during the most recent biennium, Krowinski often held the Speaker’s gavel when Rep. Mitzi Johnson was unavailable. Rep. Johnson lost her bid for re-election.
Legal abortion regardless of the age of either mother or unborn child will take center stage in the upcoming legislative session. On December 4, information about upcoming action on Prop 5, the constitutional enshrinement of abortion without exception, was posted on the legislative website: “The 2019-2020 General Assembly proposed two amendments to the Vermont Constitution that the 2021-2022 General Assembly must concur with in order for them to be submitted to the voters for final approval. Click here for more information.”
Constitutional amendments must be approved by consecutive legislatures before going to voters in a statewide referendum. Prop 2 clarifies that slavery and indentured servitude are prohibited. It created almost no controversy.
By contrast, Prop 5 produced well-attended, contentious public hearings and four legislative roll calls. It reads: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” If it passes legislative muster again this year, it will go to voters in a statewide referendum in November, 2021.
Rep. Emily Long was elected House Majority Leader. A Windham County native and resident with a long history as a school board member and school board association leader, in 2019-20 she held the #2 assistant majority leader post, also known as “whip.”
Rep. Mike McCarthy (St. Albans) Saturday was elected “whip.” If the caucus continues to push pro-solar legislation, his legislative work will dovetail with his professional responsibilities with SunCommon, one of Vermont’s leading solar power developers. His SunCommon biography reads as follows:
“Mike grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of St. Michael’s College. He spent a few years in Los Angeles before returning home to Vermont to start Cosmic Bakery & Café in downtown St. Albans. Mike has served as Chair of the Downtown Board, represented St. Albans in the Vermont House of Representatives and was elected to the St. Albans City Council in 2017. After helping with SunCommon’s launch in Franklin County, Mike joined the crew in 2013. Since 2014 he has been working on SunCommon’s community and commercial solar teams, finding ways to get our larger solar projects sited and financed for businesses, factories, apartment buildings, schools and farms all over Vermont. [Italics ours.] Mike plays guitar and sings whenever he can. He lives in St. Albans with his wife Stephanie and their daughter Molly.”
Also elected as assistant majority leaders were Chittenden County Reps. Martin LaLonde (South Burlington) and Marybeth Redmond (Essex Jct.).