We had a very exciting Building Bridges this year. Almost 50 AGC/VT members descended on the state house on Thursday, January 16th. It was clear that by the end of the day we made a huge impression on state leaders and got the ball rolling on some two serious issues. The first issue was work zone safety, which came to the forefront after the death of one of our own last summer. The second topic was building our workforce which remains a difficult task for not only contractors but most employers in Vermont.
The day began by meeting at the AGC/VT office where members assembled and boarded the bus to the state house. On the way talking points and identifying “flanyards” (flannel lanyards) with our logo identifying members were distributed. We arrived at the state house at 10am and assembled in the Cedar Creek room for a televised press conference. Richard Wobby opened the rally with a speech dedicated to the safety of our workers “transcending the legislature”. Matt Musgrave then introduced Jillian King who shared a somber story of the passing of James Alger who was hit in a work zone last year and pleaded for the legislature to take up our safety initiatives. Legislators, agency heads and two television stations were in attendance among our members.
After the press conference we then split up in to several committees holding hearings on bills that would have an effect on contractors. Roth Perry spoke about constructions financial impacts
on Vermont and the desperate worker shortage we are facing to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee who have since asked us to share specific initiatives they can consider.
Kellen Cloud, Jillian King and Michael Messier also testified but in the transportation committees regarding work zone safety. Their well received testimony included personal accounts of near misses on the road and three specific initiatives AGC/VT has been seeking. Increased penalties for using hand helds in work zones, increased fines for work zone violations and allowing contractors to use automated variable speed signs with camera enforcement to send tickets to speeders within work zones. We have since been back to one transportation committee and Friday the 31st of January we will return to the other to hopefully get our initiatives put into the larger transportation bill.
After visiting committees we then had lunch in the cafeteria with members spreading out to talk about why we were there and some got to eat lunch with their
legislators. After lunch we assembled for a session on the floor of the House of Representatives. We were welcomed by several legislators who recognized their constituents and a association wide introduction by Representative Curt McCormack who told the assembly why we were visiting the state house.
Our last meeting was in Governors ceremonial office with Governor Phil Scott. Governor Scott spent time discussing some of his initiatives for 2020 which included workforce development and making Vermont a more attractive place for business. He then opened the floor up for questions which allowed for a great personal experience for those in attendance. We are truly grateful for the time he spent with us.
Our next big political event will be held in Montpelier at the Capital Plaza Hotel on State Street, March 18. Here is a link to the registration page with details. We hope you can make it. When our leaders see we care about the political process and how it relates to our business they are much more engaged with us.