No vote on universal school lunches a tough call, Rep. says

The ‘rental registry,’ universal school lunch, and school pupil-weighting bills passed the House last week, Rep. Samantha Lefebvre (R-Orange) reports.

S.210 (rental housing health and safety and affordable housing) Passed, I voted no. 

Rep. Samantha Lefebvre

I do believe that this will help the very unfortunate housing crisis that we are in. I believe that this will push more smaller landlords, who usually are the ones that are more responsive and compassionate with tenants, to go to a short-term rental. Short term rentals are great for the tourist economy here, but not so much for those that want to have certainty and security in having a place to live.  

S.100 (universal school breakfast and the creation of the Task Force on Universal School Lunch) passed [vote was 93-33 on second reading]. I voted no.

This has had to be one of the hardest votes that I have had to make. 

Looking at the larger picture, it is hard for me to support standing up a $30 million initiative that is going to come out of the Education Fund that ultimately falls on the backs of the taxpayers. We are consistently told that the wealthy Vermonter’s need to be doing more to support and to be “taxed”, this will do the opposite. With the investigation of proposing new taxes such as sweets and sodas this will again hit those that are in the lower income bracket. 

If the topic was brought forward to look at ways to change the eligibility bracket for more students to be able to be covered, I would be happy to look at it. I would also support helping schools with funding to obtain the pin pad that would allow students to use a code to enter into the system. That way there could be less of the opportunity for someone feeling shameful due to their ability to pay for meals at school.

S.287 (improving student equity by adjusting the school funding formula and providing education quality and funding oversight) Passed on a roll call vote 132-11. I voted yes. 

This favored the towns that I get to represent here. While there were two school districts in Orange County that saw increases in their taxes, their representatives voted in support of this bill and concurred that it would be the right thing to do. 

S.162 (collective bargaining rights of teachers) Passed, unanimously.

S.280 (misc. changes to vehicle laws) Passed, unanimously

H.743 (Town of Hardwick charter amendments) Passed, unanimously

S.127 (procedures and review of community supervision furlough revocation or interruption appeals) Passed, unanimously

S.195 (certification of mental health peer support specialists) Passed, unanimously.

S.286 (amending various public pension and other postemployment benefits) Passed, unanimously.

S.247 (prohibiting discrimination based on genetic information) Passed, unanimously.

H.635 (secondary enforcement of minor traffic offenses):  Vote on amendment passed, unanimously.

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  1. The assumption here is, of course, that providing meals at public school will not only improve the conditions under which Vermont’s children are educated but improve the outcomes for these students…. as if there are no alternatives. It’s what, in business parlance, I call and ‘Armageddon Response’. So, you want the children to starve? No. But what these bills don’t do is follow the requirements of Vermont’s Constitution Article 9. That “… previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.”

    “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

    ― T.S. Eliot

  2. Thanks for standing tall, Rep Lefebvre. The line has to be drawn somewhere. If parent(s) cannot be counted on to see that their child has a decent breakfast, then they dont deserve the title “parent”. There are myriad nutrition programs already available in Vermont to assure that the breakfast ingredients are available. If school is to have any semblance of training people to get by in the real world, then students should not be made to think that there will always be a hot meal put in front of them for nothing. Sorry, but obesity is still a bigger overall threat to public health than hunger.

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