2024 Town Meeting Report

We’re halfway through the 2024 legislative session! Our work officially began on January 3, when we gaveled in for the second year of our legislative biennium. We’ve passed some significant legislation in these first two months, and this report provides highlights. I continue to focus my priorities on supporting families and small businesses; addressing the complex and interconnected challenges of housing, childcare and the workforce; investing in strategies to combat climate change and the continued investment in the build-out of broadband and infrastructure for our rural communities. It’s an honor to serve as your State Representative. Please reach out anytime with ideas, questions, and concerns.


In the first half of the legislative session, the Appropriations Committee prepares the FY24 budget adjustment—a “true up” of the current state budget that reflects actual revenues and new cost pressures midway through the fiscal year. The committee also takes testimony from all state agencies and develops the FY25 state budget.

During the pandemic, Vermont received an enormous amount of federal money. That funding is now spent or obligated, and the House is making sure every last federal dollar is used effectively to create a more resilient Vermont. We are also coming to grips with new cost pressures and needs.

The budget adjustment process—and now the FY25 budget process—are shaped by three realities. First, unlike in recent years, we do not have pandemic federal funds to rely on. Second, we’re still trying to help our neighbors in flood-stricken communities. Third, the committee’s review of proposed state agency budgets reveals underfunded and fragile organizations in need of critical support. This translates to workforce shortages, agencies that can’t provide the services Vermonters need, upward pressure on wages for state workers, and IT systems so outdated they make it hard for employees to do their jobs. In several cases, we’re leaving tens of millions of federal dollars on the table because we have not invested in core systems that would make us eligible to access those dollars.

Despite the challenges, we’re celebrating significant success stories. For example, Vermont is on track to push high-speed internet access to all corners of the state. Flood damage was less severe than it might have been due to previous investments in resilience. Families across the state are signing up to access new childcare subsidies, the result of last year’s historic legislation.

As we grapple with this year’s budget challenges, we’re working hard to put dollars behind our priorities. The House budget will fund strategic priorities like flood recovery, housing, public safety and climate resilience. Our goal is to create a budget that meets the needs of Vermonters, at a cost they can afford. We are taking care to make sure Vermont is a place all people can thrive, not just the select few.


With the housing crisis and threats from a changing climate becoming dire, the legislature launched a deep examination of how to better protect our communities, air, water, wildlife, forests, and working lands. Since 1970, our statewide land use law, Act 250, has helped support compact development in downtowns and village centers while protecting forests and open lands. Last summer, a working group convened by the Natural Resources Board collaborated on needed updates to Act 250 to facilitate building in the right places and better protect natural resources. After months of work, consensus emerged on several important updates.

H.687 is a comprehensive bill that weaves together recommendations from the Act 250 working group with related regional planning and statewide designation program updates. The bill seeks a balanced approach to improving the effectiveness and consistency of the Natural Resources Board in issuing Act 250 permits and handling appeals. It proposes a new location-based oversight that defines three “tiers” covering downtowns and village centers (tier 1), rural areas (tier 2) and the most ecologically sensitive areas (tier 3).


In Vermont, our transportation sector contributes nearly 40% of our total carbon pollution. To reduce CO2 emissions, we must develop and sustain a transportation system that serves all Vermonters today and in a changing future.

This year’s Transportation bill, H.868, provides funding to both reduce carbon reductions and build resiliency to climate change by increasing funding to municipalities for bridges and culverts and bike-ped infrastructure; providing more mobility and transit options to help Vermonters get around and increasing access to affordable, accessible and reliable EV charging.

Building more resilient transportation infrastructure enables Vermonters to access jobs, age successfully in our communities, and improve our health as we reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.


Last year, the legislature passed Act 76—a first-of-its-kind, long-term investment in our child care and early learning system that will provide access to affordable, quality child care and early learning for thousands of young Vermonters and help make Vermont more affordable for families.

Act 76 is underway right now, and we're already seeing signs of progress across the state. Child care programs in every county have increased staff compensation and benefits, improved and expanded their programs, and created new child care slots.

Act 76 doesn't stop there: In April and again in October, the state will expand eligibility for child care tuition assistance for families. By the end of 2024, more than 7,000 additional children and their families will be eligible for free or reduced tuition rates. Families can find the new income guidelines effective April 2024 at the Child Development Division website.

Act 76 also tasks Building Bright Futures, the state's early childhood advisor, with tracking outcomes of Act 76. Legislators will use this data to inform future child care policy. Vermonters can follow the progress of this historic legislation on the Child Development's website.


Public safety has been the theme for the House Judiciary Committee this session. Almost every bill we’ve taken up is connected to the crimes and conditions that contribute to the sense that Vermonters are not as safe as we were just a few years ago.

The two most effective crime deterrents are 1) a high probability of being caught and 2) certain and quick consequences for criminal activity. The probability of being caught depends on the presence and availability of law enforcement. The certainty and immediacy of consequences depends on a well-functioning, well-resourced criminal justice system made up of the courts, prosecutors, defenders, victim advocates, and restorative justice providers.

The legislature’s primary lever to address the issue is the state budget. The Judiciary Committee continues to work with the Appropriations Committee to ensure that all vital elements of the justice system have sufficient resources. This work will enable cases to be heard in a timely fashion so that individuals are being held accountable for their actions as soon as possible.

In addition to advocating for properly resourced criminal justice entities, we’ve voted several public safety-related bills out of the House and on to the Senate.

TAX RESOURCES FOR VERMONTERS This year, the Ways & Means Committee has had a theme of helping Vermonters understand the options available to help reduce their tax burden, and how to navigate challenges they may have with the tax system in Vermont. Why file? Even if your income is below the threshold to file a return, you still should! There are credits and incentives available that can save a lot of money. First, if you are a homeowner you should file a homestead declaration. Two thirds of Vermonters are eligible for income-based property tax relief and filing the homestead declaration is the way to receive that discount. Also, you may be eligible for some tax credits. There are dozens of credits, but two of our largest are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The EITC is meant to offset taxes paid by low-wage earners, and the CTC offers a per-child amount to families. Need help filing taxes to receive these important benefits? Taxpayers can find free tax preparation help near them with a simple search: Both AARP and Vermont Income Tax Assistance are two additional free resources for tax preparation. Finally, Vermont’s Taxpayer Advocate is employed to help Vermonters navigate their tax challenges; reach out at (802) 828-6848 or


A variety of incentives for electric vehicles and electric bikes are helping Vermonters transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles. There are up to $6,000 in incentives plus $7,500 in tax credits available. The website is a great resource with details about the incentives, a tool to compare vehicles and information about electric vehicle charging.

STAY IN TOUCH Rep. Sara Coffey Chair, House Transportation Committee

email: phone: 802.257.0288 (home) 802.828.228 (at the State House Tues–Fri) Website: Facebook: @SaraCoffeyforStateRep

COFFEE WITH COFFEY Second Saturday of every month 10-11AM alternating between Guilford and Vernon

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