DOVER >> Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Windham-Bennington, says she's running again for the same reasons she sought election in the first place.
"I'm really looking at economic development, education and the broadband issue, which ironically is how I started working in economic development," she said, referring to her days as executive director of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2007. "We started the bi-town effort out there in a particularly bad winter."
That work, Sibilia said, led to the understanding that there was going to be "a big problem" not having proper broadband. Then the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies group crafted a federally recognized document which explained why broadband and cell services were not up to par: "the economy itself and demand of the services." Sibilia applauded Sovernet's connecting schools and other institutions to broadband but thought residences and small businesses would get the same treatment sooner as other telecommunications organizations were hired to do it.
"We starting to learn through the legislative session that this hasn't happened and to an extent wasn't not going to happen," she said. "I am certainly raring to go to have more thoughtful strategies going into next legislative session to increase investment and get more focus on broadband, particularly for Southern Vermont."
Sibilia's experience was "very eye-opening" when she first became a representative, she said with regard to the universal health care initiatives. While she sees Vermont "admirably providing" health care for a lot more people through the state's exchange, she worries about its effect on small employers and a proposed assessment of whether those employers are adequately providing insurance.
The issue has to do with how policy is talked about then put in place, according to Sibilia.
"Once policy's in place, we'll learn how to pay for it," she said, concerned about that.
Sibilia said she's interested in hearing what changes will be proposed to Act 46, the law mandating school district consolidation statewide, and wants to make sure "a scalpel as opposed to sledgehammer" is used if any legislative tweaks are to be made. She also expects to hear more about how to reverse the trend of rising property taxes.
Sibilia said she is proud of the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone designation, which she had pushed for creating along with fellow Rep. Oliver Olsen. A recently awarded federal grant will see regional economic organizations collaborating to find ways to address issues around workforce development, broadband and job creation.
Then there's the Gilfeather turnip becoming the official state vegetable.
"I think it's absolutely appropriate," Sibilia said of the vegetable which has been given its own festival in Wardsboro, one of the towns she represents. "It was such an incredibly cool and authentic celebration of our rural communities."
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.