Banning plastic bags, losing minimum wage & waiting on campaign finance reform: #Vt Advocates on wins & losses in 2019 legislature

In January 2019, public interest advocates weighed in on the Vermont Conversation with their priorities for the 2019 legislative session in Vermont. Five months later, they return to discuss what happened: who won, who lost, what’s still in play on key legislation including banning plastic bags, $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, medical monitoring for toxics and campaign finance reform. (June 5, 2019 broadcast)

Paul Burns, executive director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group

Lauren Hierl, executive director, Vermont Conservation Voters

Dan Barlow, Public Policy manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

“We trust women:” Sen. Becca Balint on Vermont’s historic abortion rights law

In the final days of the 2019 legislative session, the Vermont Legislature passed the most sweeping reproductive rights protections of any state in the country. Gov. Phil Scott has indicated that he will allow the law to stand. This has occurred against a backdrop of other states including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri effectively banning abortion. Vermont Senate Majority Leader Sen. Becca Balint (D-Windham) talks about what she considers to be one of the proudest moments of her legislative career. “We trust women to make decisions about their health care,” she said. “It’s radical notion right now to think that women should have full control over their bodies.” Balint also weighs in on why the legislature has struggled to pass a $15 minimum wage, and her response to climate activists who were arrested in the State House over what they charged was inaction on climate change. Includes longer version of interview than aired on WDEV. (May 22, 2019 broadcast)

Senator Becca Balint, Vermont Senate Majority Leader

The Advocates: Vermont’s public interest groups mobilize for change

Will 2019-2020 bring Vermont paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, smart justice reform, stronger protection from toxic chemicals and clean water? These are some of the goals of advocates for social, economic and environmental justice who have descended on the Vermont State House pressing for change on these and other issues in the new legislative biennium. We hold a roundtable discussion with leaders from some of Vermont’s key advocacy groups to hear about their priorities and strategies for the 2019-2020 legislative session. (January 9, 2019 broadcast)

Dan Barlow, Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Paul Burns, executive director, Vermont Public Interest Research Group 

Lauren Hierl, executive director, Vermont Conservation Voters

Kate Logan, director of programming & policy, Rights & Democracy

James Lyall, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont

 

How Heady Topper is brewing social change: The Alchemist’s Jen Kimmich

Heady Topper, the legendary and elusive IPA from The Alchemist named one of the top 100 beers in the world, has spawned a cult following — and social change. Alchemist co-founder Jen Kimmich is an influential political activist who serves on the boards of the Vermont Public Interest Group, Vermont Council on Rural Development, Main Street Alliance, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, among other organizations. She has been at the center of efforts to pass paid family leave, reduce climate change, and raise the minimum wage. She discusses her commitment to good business and good politics, the work of the charitable Alchemist Foundation and its college scholarship fund for local high school students, and why she and her husband, Alchemist co-founder John Kimmich, insist on brewing local and staying small. (March 28, 2018 broadcast)

Jen Kimmich, co-founder, The Alchemist

How the Fight for $15 caught fire

When fast food workers walked off their jobs and launched the Fight for $15 in late 2012 in New York City, few people would have predicted that a few years later, the $15 minimum wage would become law. We discuss how the fight for $15 caught fire to become law in California and New York, and beyond. (April 6, 2016 broadcast)

Yannet Lathrop, Researcher and Policy Analyst, National Employment Law Project

 

Livable jobs, 2-4-15

What is a livable wage in Vt?

First, let’s look at what isn’t livable: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A person working full-time with two children at the current $7.25 minimum earns $14,500 annually, which is below the federal poverty line. In Vermont, the minimum wage is $9.15 an hour, and is scheduled to rise to $10.50 over the next 3 years. So a full time minimum wage earner in Vt makes about $18,000 per year, which is still below the federal poverty line.

A recent Vermont legislative report put the livable wage in Vermont for a single person living in shared housing at $13.48 an hour, rising to $32.41 for a single wage earner in a household with two adults and two children. Many small businesses insist they can’t pay such high wages.

Four Vermonters talk about their vision of “livable jobs” in Vermont:

Jen Kimmich, the co-owner of The Alchemist in Waterbury

Liz Holtz, the founder and CEO of Liz Lovely in Waitsfield

Russ Bennett, the owner of NorthLand Design & Construction in Waitsfield, and chairman of VBSR Policy Committee

Ellen Kahler, the executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund