Vt. Convenes Legislative Session
House members take the oath of office en masse at the legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Speaker Shap Smith takes his oath of office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. Smith was elected to his third two-year term as speaker of the Vermont House.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Speaker Shap Smith smiles as he prepares to open the legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. Smith was elected to his third two-year term as speaker of the Vermont House.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Assistant to the Sergeant of Arms Jeff Gabrielson, right, gives instructions to the new House pages before the start of the legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Montpelier — As Vermont lawmakers gathered yesterday for their 2013 session, hundreds of activists converged on the Statehouse, demanding the state “put people first” and set budget and policies friendly to labor, children, people with disabilities, and the poor.
But leaders of the House and the Senate, where Democrats are the majority, said they face another tough budget year and agree with Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin that they don’t want to raise broad-based taxes, such as income and sales taxes.
“We still face a significant fiscal crisis. It’s not over by any means,” said Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, the Senate president pro tem.
His comment came in an interview after members of the House and Senate were sworn in and heard their leaders outline plans for the coming session.
With session-opening ceremonies continuing today, top state officials are to be sworn in, including the governor and the attorney general.
Also, Shumlin will give his second inaugural address.
Members of Put People First, a coalition of labor and human rights groups, packed a Statehouse hearing room yesterday.
“For too long, we have been divided from one another by attempts to make us compete for our rights,” the coalition said in a statement. “This year, we have come together with all who struggle in this system that denies our human rights and destroys our planet.”