VT Progressive Party

Party Organization

Could Vermont change the healthcare game?

Click here to watch on MSNBC.com

From MSNBC's UP With Steve Kornacki: "Could Vermont’s single-payer health care experiment be a game changer? Vermont State Rep. Chris Pearson joins the UP panel to discuss."

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As Vermont Goes, So Goes the Nation?

April 5, 2014; Molly Worthen; New York Times

"Three years ago, Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, signed a bill creating Green Mountain Care: a single-payer system in which, if all goes according to plan, the state will regulate doctors’ fees and cover Vermonters’ medical bills. Mr. Shumlin is a Democrat, and the bill’s passage is a credit to his party. Yet a small upstart spent years building support for reform and nudging the Democrats left: the Vermont Progressive Party. The Progressives owe much of their success to the oddities of Vermont politics. But their example offers hope that the most frustrating dimensions of our political culture can change, despite obstacles with deep roots in American history."

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Letter to CCTA Management

On Monday, March 17th, three Progressive City Councilors and Progressive Councilor-Elect Selene Colburn issued the following open letter to CCTA management in support of the bus drivers' strike.



We, the undersigned members of Burlington’s City Council, are writing in solidarity with the Chittenden County Transportation Association’s organized bus drivers and calling on management to deliver a fair contract that improves public safety and working conditions.

Earlier this week, what’s now being called snowstorm Vulcan delivered up to two feet of snow around Chittenden County. Schools closed, businesses delayed openings, food bank deliveries were canceled, and people struggled to get out of their driveways. The only thing it didn’t slow down was the bus drivers who got us where we needed to be, safely and soundly, as a blizzard raged all around.

A strike will have a major impact on Burlington and the region. Over 9,700 riders a day rely on the drivers to receive transport to school, to work, to medical care, to grocery stores and drug stores, to visit and care for relatives who live one town over. The loss of these essential transportation services will disproportionately impact low income Vermonters, who may not be able to avail themselves of other options.

And yet, the support for the bus drivers has been unwavering. Riders are standing up and announcing their solidarity, day by day. Earlier this week, Burlington high school students delivered a petition to City Council in support of the drivers. In one day, they amassed 500 signatures -- almost half the student body. Environmental and social justice student activists at UVM are rising up with a unified voice. In a near unanimous vote, the Burlington school board voted to stand with the drivers in their efforts, rather than to hire non-union workers in the event of a strike. Working people are turning out to rallies and pickets on cold winter mornings and nights; sister unions including the Vermont NEA, the Vermont Federation of Nurses, United Electrics, United Academics and the Vermont State Employees Association are voicing unity.

Drivers are asking for basic rights that everyone understands: reasonable working hours, the security of full time work, and the right to collective bargaining in the face of management conditions that by many accounts include surveillance, bullying, and disrespect. Vermont needs more full time workers who can support families without having to juggle multiple jobs, not more part-time workers without benefits. Vermont and Burlington deserve drivers who can operate safely, without being pushed to the point of exhaustion or intimidation. We deserve a robust transportation system that helps us protect our environment, not one that undermines the principles of sustainability by devaluing the very workers who make it run.

When unionized drivers agree to strike in a unanimous vote, rather than accept the terms of a contract, despite the risks to their livelihoods and their families, it signals a deep concern for the existing working conditions. We call on CCTA to deliver a fair contract to drivers.

Sincerely,

Councilor-Elect Selene Colburn, Ward 1
Councilor Max Tracy, Ward 2
Councilor Vince Brennan, Ward 3
Councilor Rachel Siegel, Ward 3

Minutes - February 2014 State Committee Meeting

February 8, 2014; 1:00 pm, 
North End Studios, Burlington
In attendance: Approximately 60 people attended, with another several guest speakers.

Welcome: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. She offered up an instant poll for State Committee members to answer a survey question on paper or electronic meeting materials. Those State Committee members without smartphones participated by a raising of hands. Most people indicated a preference to receive materials only electronically. Party leaders will take this into consideration when planning future meetings. Emma also asked people to support the party by becoming a monthly or one-time donor.

Panel: Burlington City Council Update and City Committee Leaders
All four incumbent Progressive City Councilors shared highlights on issues they are working on ranging from climate change initiatives to public safety to transportation (bike/ped issues) to updates on Burlington Telecom. Councilors Max Tracy and Rachel Siegel are up for reelection this March. Max needs help with his council race – volunteer support and financial support – because he is running against a well organized Democrat. Rachel has an opponent, but does not expect a tough race. Councilors Vince Brennan and Jane Knodell are up for reelection in 2015. There is an open seat for City Council in Ward 1 and State Party Vice Chair Selene Colburn is running unopposed for that seat. We expect to have 5 city councilors out of 14 after Town Meeting Day. Democrats currently have 7 seats with a possibility of gaining one more seat. The other two seats are held by Independents. Burlington City Chair Kyle Sillman-Smith and Vice Chair Ali Zipparo shared ways they have reenergized their city committee including regular informal “breakfast club” gatherings, leader recruitment to get more people involved by creating a database of potential leaders to draw from when commissions and boards have openings in the city, and a regular city committee meeting schedule.

Paid Sick Days (PSD) Panel
We were joined by Rep. Cindy Weed, Lindsay DesLauriers from Voices for Vermont’s Children, Cary Brown from the VT Commission on Women, Cecile Reuge from the VT Workers’ Center, and Dan Barlow from VT Businesses for Social Responsibility. Rep. Weed gave an overview of the Paid Sick Days bill in the House and explained it is due for a vote in her committee (House General) next week and could be voted on by the full House as early as mid February. The fight will be whether or not carve outs get added to the bill before it leaves committee. Also the Senate is not as supportive of the bill and the Governor is not a guaranteed supporter either. Lindsay explained the PSD issue from the angle of families/children and gave an overview of PSD history in VT. Cary explained PSD as an issue that relates disproportionately to women because they tend to hold more low-wage, service/retail jobs in VT that tend to not include paid sick leave. She also raised the issue of victims of domestic violence and the challenge of taking leave to heal from acts of violence. Dan explained the business angle and impact on the economy and noted several businesses are supportive of this bill, but several are speaking out and starting to pressure Representatives not to support this bill because it is an added “burden” on businesses. Cecile explained the VWC’s organizing effort to get PSD passed this session and ways people could help.

Emma then asked SC members to take action at the meeting and contact their state representative, senator and the Governor’s office to ask them to support the PSD bill. Legislator contact information was shared and people took time to place calls. We reviewed a list of key legislators who would benefit from being contacted. VPP will send an email action alert to share that list and ask all VPP members to take action on this bill early next week.

Break/Raffle Drawing

Regional Breakouts
The SC membership broke into regional groups to discuss local issues and potential house and senate districts for the VPP to target in the 2014 election cycle. Based on limited numbers from certain parts of the state, we had groups meet together from the Northwest region (Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille Counties), Chittenden/A-R (Chittenden, Addison and Rutland Counties), NEK/Central Vermont, and Southern Vermont.  CoCo members from each region facilitated the conversation. SC members said this was a useful way to break up the meeting. Party leaders will try to find ways to keep conversations going on topics raised in between SC meetings.

Platform Review Committee Update
Ben Eastwood (Montpelier) reported as Chair of the new Platform Review Committee. There is no written procedure on how to set up the process for reviewing the platform beyond formal ways to adopt changes to the platform (state law and VPP bylaws). The CoCo endorsed a process for this round in January. The committee will be appointed by the State Party Chair and limited to 5 members to keep it workable. An attempt will be made to achieve geographic diversity and a mix of new and experienced voices. The committee will also be charged with offering a written recommendation on a procedure to adopt for future platform review work so the Party has a known process going forward. The Chair appointed: Ben Eastwood (Montpelier, Chair of Montpelier Town Committee and Washington County) as Chair, Leslie Matthews (Northfield, former Coco member, SC member), Tim Kipp (Bratteboro, SC member), Cindy Weed (Enosburg Falls, former chair of platform committee last time, State Rep), and Becky Raymond (Middlesex, new Party member). Becky recently resigned from committee, so the Chair will work to fill the vacancy. The committee also has a recent UVM grad working as an intern for the committee.

The process is still being created, but it will include several ways to engage SC members and other Party members in reviewing and offering feedback on the platform. It will also include a very clear set of procedures, including any amendments and the process for voting/debate ahead of the September SC meeting where the SC and town and county chairs will be asked to adopt/reject any changes. The May 31st SC meeting will include a large portion of time on the agenda for platform discussion and input. The committee hopes to have any proposed amendments ready for the CoCo to review in mid July. Questions and feedback can be sent to Ben.

Party Committee Reports
Corey Decker (Enosburg) reported as Chair of the elections committee. Emma reported for Chairs who were absent from the meeting, including Chris Brimmer (organizational development committee), Martha Abbott (fundraising committee), and the communications committee (who are in need of a new Chair). All committees are looking for volunteers. Here is a description of each committee’s charge:

Fundraising Committee
Committee will develop an annual fundraising plan for the Party, oversee fundraising appeals to Party members (initial ask, follow up ask, etc.), revamp fundraising strategies used by the Party in the past, assist staff with development of appeals (letters, online, etc.), assist staff with organizing fundraising events (small), train Coco members and other Party leaders on how to effectively fundraise, and plan an annual major fundraising event for the Party.

Elections Committee
Committee will develop and conduct campaign trainings for candidates, campaign managers, and campaign volunteers during the 2014 election cycle (build capacity of party to run strong campaigns). The committee will also assist Party leaders and staff in recruiting candidates to run in the 2014 election cycle and assist the CoCo and State Committee in any Party endorsement process for the 2014 election. The committee will also support Burlington City Council campaigns as necessary (Jan-March 2014).

Communications Committee
Committee will develop a communications strategy for the Party, assist staff with press releases for the Party, assist staff with social media and blog postings, review the website for relevant content, and help advance the 2014 special project - corporate campaign donations petition. The committee will also help staff and the CoCo work on branding and promoting the party on a statewide level (messaging).

Organizational Development Committee
Committee will assist CoCo in doing quarterly outreach (to increase attendance) to the state committee members for quarterly meetings, develop "on-ramp" events for new Party members to get involved in Party outside state committee meetings, and examine more ways for the Party to involve new members (on the ground engagement and promotion of Party). The committee will also work with Chair ahead of state committee meetings to develop state committee agenda items that will spark engagement by members (and ideally attendance!).

Legislative Update
Rep. Chris Pearson and Rep. Cindy Weed gave a brief update from the Legislature. The conversation focused mainly on the health care policy debate and the road to single payer (or not) based on the roll out of the state exchange and new rules facing Vermonters without health insurance and employers who do not currently offer insurance.

Submitted by Chris Brimmer, Secretary 2/20/14

Vermont signs $2.8-million software contract

february 3, 2014; Nancy Remsen; Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER — When the first campaign finance reports for the 2014 election are filed in July, the office of the Secretary of State hopes candidates will be able to submit their reports electronically if they want.

Electronic filing of contributions and spending on campaigns would be voluntary, but state officials want this component of the new election system to be ready for testing. The campaign finance application will eventually allow the public to conduct searches across candidate reports, for example, to better understand how money is being spent on elections...

...Robert Millar, executive director of the Vermont Progressive Party, agreed that a searchable database of campaign contributions would increase transparency, but he was disappointed that a new campaign finance law allows bigger contributions. “It will be increased transparency of increased spending.”

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February 2014 State Committee Meeting - Proposed Agenda

Vermont State Committee Meeting
February 8, 2014; 1:00 pm
North End Studios, Burlington

REGISTRATION (12:30 PM)
STATE COMMITTEE (1:00 PM)


Welcome: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (5 minutes)

Burlington Update: City Councilors & Candidates (25 minutes)

Panel Discussion – Economic Rights & Paid Sick Days (60 minutes)
  *Panel Members: Rep. Cindy Weed, Lindsay DesLauriers (Voices for Vt's Children), Cary Brown (Vt Commission on Women), Dan Barlow (VBSR), & Cecile Reuge (Vt Workers' Center)

Break/Raffle Drawing (15 minutes)

Regional Networking/Discussion (45 Minutes)

Platform Process Update: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (15 minutes)

Party Committee Reports: Committee Chairs (10 minutes)

Legislative Update: Progressive Legislators (20 minutes)

Closing: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (5 minutes)

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