Chea Waters Evans, State Representative
On a recent night, I cooked a meal for my kids for the first time in maybe three weeks. The house looks like we might have been mildly robbed, the backseat of my car is full of blazers I took off the second I finished my workday and chucked over my shoulder, and my lawn looks like a dandelion farm. But even though no work took place in this house, plenty went on for the final few weeks of the legislative session at the State House.
It was thrilling and boring and confusing and enlightening and complicated and an experience that makes the phrase “drinking from a firehose” seem synonymous with “sipping champagne from a little silver straw.” There was so much to learn, and such a short period of time to learn it in, but now at least I have six months to prepare for the next session. And in this session, I only dropped one f-bomb and only cried a few times, but all in all, my first year as a state representative was the experience of a lifetime. (We’re heading back for a few days in June for a veto session.)
I’m proud of the work we did as a group on childcare, climate change, school meals, VT Saves and other bills that will hopefully make life better and easier for Vermonters. In my committee, House Government Operations and Military Affairs, we worked on legislation that was as simple as changes to town charters to as complicated as developing a state-wide EMS dispatch system. We started the investigation process for impeaching a sheriff and a state’s attorney, we updated some cannabis laws (more on that next time), and we finalized legislation to legalize online sports betting.
I’ve heard from many Charlotters and Hinesburgers about legislation as it makes its way through the process, and I was surprised and delighted at how much feedback I got — even when it was feedback that instructed me to enjoy myself because I’m going to get voted out next time. Yay Democracy! I tried really hard to reply to every email, especially to the people who weren’t happy with me, because I truly value all opinions and that’s what informs the way I vote and structure my priorities.
Over the summer, I’m going to work on a few things, including specific concerns that people need some help with. (Did you know you can ask me to help you with stuff? I might not know the answer, but I made some friends and figured out at least who I can ask if I don’t.)
I’m also going to work on seeing if we can develop a comprehensive system for animal cruelty reporting and animal welfare, look at modernizing open meeting laws, and learn everything I can about fossil fuel alternatives and the possible outcomes of the legislation that aims to move energy consumption away from them.
I know some are disappointed that I voted to override the governor’s veto on that bill, S.5, which some affectionately call the Affordable Heat Act and some, less fondly, call the Unaffordable Heat Act. It’s true that we don’t know if this will work as intended; it’s true that this causes worry for many. I don’t want anyone to think I took this vote lightly, or blindly voted along party lines, or didn’t consider all points of view.
The next two years on that bill will be a test, and I assure you that I’ll be cramming for this test like no other in my life, even more than that test freshman year of college when I had to fill in a blank map of all of the countries in the entire world. The best way to understand a problem is to read about it and talk to people about it, and now I have a lot of time to figure out what we need to see two years from now when it comes up for a vote again. (Assuming, hopefully, that the gentleman who wants me to only have one term doesn’t get his wish.)
I hope to continue updating you until the next session, and I’m happy to get into the nitty-gritty on certain bills or issues if you’d like. Just let me know with an email what they are or call me at 917-887-8231.