by Rep. Gina Galfetti
As I made my way into the State House Tuesday with some light sleet falling, I found my mood to be better than the previous week. I slid in the side door and returned to the now familiar coat room. One of the members of the Capital Police held the door for me and greeted me pleasantly; Dale is a wonderful man and has been a fixture at the State House for a number of years. His welcome seemed to set the tone for the day! The State House staff number among the most dedicated and friendly folks in the state.
I headed upstairs to my committee room and greeted Phil, our committee assistant, who was in early taking care of the numerous details, including scheduling and other tasks, that are required to make the committee function. I was in good spirits, because despite having landed in Corrections and Institutions (a committee I had not asked for), I have found it quite interesting. Corrections and Institutions deals with a variety of subject matter, from the brick and mortar of the buildings owned by the State to the State’s relationship with incarcerated individuals. It is also one of the three “money committees,” as it produces the capital budget, which controls the allocation of funds for a myriad of projects, from roof replacement to building new prisons. Not exactly a boring Committee!
I found that I had landed on a Committee with a well seasoned and highly capable Chair, Alice Emmons of Springfield, who also happens to be the “dean” of the House, having been first elected in 1982!. Alice quickly filled the schedule with a variety of presenters who brought the mostly new committee up to speed on the issues that we would be grappling with this session, and I was grateful to have her at the helm. She is no nonsense straight shooter.
I was also pleased that the Democratic leadership had reached out to new members and that I had received a number of inquiries and apologies from new members who had shunned me. It was a welcome change from the previous week and a signal that I might actually be heard and be able to get some work done despite wearing “the scarlet R.” I felt rather poorly that some of the new members who had always been friendly felt the last week’s Floor Report might be aimed at them, for as I said, it was the few not the many who had behaved badly
I turned my head back to more important matters and was filled with wonder as I considered the action that was coming on “the Bathroom Bill (H. 34).” Corrections and Institutions rarely sees such exciting legislation in the beginning of the session, but Conner Casey, a Montpelier representative with a voice that can be heard down the hall and around the corner when he speaks, and who sits to my left in Committee, had dropped a deuce. A former Montpelier city councilor, Casey had introduced a bill that proposed that the State conduct a survey as to whether or not putting up 24-7 restrooms on State owned land in the Capital Complex was feasible. On Wednesday we heard testimony from Casey regarding the bill. He postulated that the State was obligated to put up 24-7 restrooms, as the many homeless who populate the downtown area needed someplace to relieve themselves. As a side note, he added that many protests in Montpelier happen outside of 9-5 when the State house bathrooms are open and that public bathrooms are critical.
It was clear that the former councilor wanted all Vermont taxpayers to pick up the dime in providing facilities to Montpelier’s homeless population, no doubt at a significant cost. And since there is already an information center and a very expensive bus station that have restrooms, this proposal seems to me to be quite unnecessary.
Not knowing the full scope of Casey’s intentions, Rep. Emmons brought this bill forward as a way for a Committee with many new members to walk through the early stages of consideration of a bill, and Rep. Casey’s initial testimony was sparse. However, once the genie had been let out of the bottle and testimony was scheduled for the next day, it was clear that the push was on. One member added that the bathroom might even be considered as a place to have a safe injection site. Oh my!
Testimony the following day turned into a three ring circus. Montpelier city manager Bill Fraser used the venue to advocate in favor of the bathroom, and many people showed up to give testimony, undoubtedly having been rounded up and invited in by other proponents of the bill. And it was without a doubt an opportunity for Casey to “bring home the bacon” for Montpelier.
The saga of the Bathroom Bill will continue to unfold next week and will without a doubt continue to make a stink. But for this first-year legislator, it was a great example of the type of maneuvering that goes on as members jockey for position in the Legislature and “pork” for their districts. It looks like a rocky road ahead; I look forward to representing the interests of the people of Barre Town and Williamstown as I travel that road over the next several months!
The author is a House member for Barre Town and part of Williamstown. She may be contacted at email@example.com or by phone at 802.461.3520.
Categories: Rep. Gina Galfetti's Floor Report
No need for a restroom there as the elected residents of Montpelier will deposit their usual by products on the rest of the state without missing a beat.
It doesn’t really take much imagination or intellect to conceive of new ways to spend money. What is difficult is the concept of using taxpayer funds to address and SOLVE the real, complicated, and important issues that Vermont faces. Restrooms and “safe” injection sites for homeless folks? Sounds more like enabling to me, rather than problem solving. I know it’s difficult, but I wish the legislature would get to the root cause of some of these problems which plague us.
How about 24/7 bathrooms in Burlington, Barre, Rutland, EssexJct. or Newport. I realize that for five months a year more fecal material is generated per capita in Mount Peculiar than any other town in the state, but where would it end ?????
This is nothing about bathrooms and everything about enabling drug addiction – they’ve already tipped their hand the second they suggested “safe” injection sites. Vermont will be becoming a mini NYC in the not distant future, with second homeowner’s fleeing for NH or elsewhere, and tourism failing. It happened in Bennington and Burlington, and it will continue to happen everywhere else too. And THEN who is funding all your crazy policies, wingnuts? (That’s you, legislators…….just want to make that clear & ya’ll have some real humdingers!!)
Last Summer, the State House was vandalized and damages estimated at $25K. The Capitol complex security wasn’t around at the time and the Montpelier Police Department isn’t responsible for the State complex security. Who will be responsible for the safety and security of a restroom if someone can smash the windows and walk away – even with cameras zoomed on the place? If the goal is to open the State House to Montpelier’s homeless, we cannot discriminate. All State buildings in Barre, St. Johnsbury, Burlington, Rutland, Newport, Bennington, etc will have to do the same. The proposal should include open restrooms in every courthouse and district garage. The restrooms are not open 24/7 on the interstate. So, the proposal should include diverting interstate traffic to a State building for restroom access as well. Also, must consider the pandemic emergency plan. Humans mixing and sharing the restroom will require 24/7 sanitation, masks, soap, hotwater, anti-bacterials, etc. We have to stay diligent and aware not to spread the virus per the Health Department and Administration.
Sorry, Honey. I stopped listening halfway through the story. What’s the important part?
I’m not your Honey and if you don’t like my writing style try reading the encyclopedic stuff other folks write. My piece is about H. 34 a bill that proposes to put 24-7 restrooms on State owned property in Montpelier.
I wish there were more like you to expose the waste and foolishness of trying to healing the planet from Mount Stupid and pushing EVs and heat pumps in this cold climate. Shine a light on this ignorance disguised as progressive ideology and control. This is not your daddy’s democrat party! The voters should be ashamed of this legislature. Instead of taking on real problems too long to list here, they are creating problems with a God like attitude toward people they are supposed to represent not rule over. They need to stop telling us what to do, we are adults living in a free country, this is not going to end well for anyone. Keep up the good work!
Statehouse lawn big enough to fit a couple of outhouses, even double seater unisex ones, for public use.
Fit right in along with the rest of the Dem leadership agenda.
Will this restroom, safe injection building be gender neutral and nonbinary for the confused? Most of the confused are in the building already. Liberalism is a mental disorder that creates a cult of it’s own. Montpelier Rep. Brain child Casey really has his finger on the pulse of Mount Stupid. He’s a regular in all the night spots so the rumor goes. He could have rounded up all those homeless souls for the win. Let’s waste some more money while we raise the property taxes. NH is looking better all the time.
Are you going to spend the whole session taking mindless jabs at your fellow Legislative freshman on this platform? Might you eventually take a few moments to educate people on *anything* your party is doing to improve the lives of Vermonters? Or maybe you could go out on a limb and submit an idea for a bill of your own? It might be refreshing to share an original thought instead of wasting time focusing solely on putting others down.
Are you going to spend the entire session taking mindless jabs at your fellow Legislative freshman? Might your precious time be better spent sharing *any* productive actions that your party is taking to benefit Vermonters? Will you eventually share an original thought of your own? Maybe even go out on a limb and submit or sponsor a bill? I am sure your audience is eager to know what moves you are capable of making, aside from writing clickbait.
Must be the Liberals don’t want the rest of us to know what their idiotic spending is up to now!
Looks like another attack of the FORM message. To say I have no original thought is laughable seeing these 2 responses. This was a strategy that my opponent used in her campaign and it didn’t work. It doesn’t look good here either. I can guess where you got.the FORM.