Tri-partisan Rural Caucus begins setting legislative priorities for 2023

The Vermont House's tri-partisan Rural Caucus, formerly known as the Rural Economic Development Working Group, or REDWnG, met on Dec. 7 with more than 45 members to elect its co-chairs and clerk and begin setting priorities for the 2023 legislative session.

The caucus unanimously elected four officers to guide the work of the group as they continue to expand the priorities from 2022 and dive deeper into the challenges faced by rural communities. The four officers and their positions include: Democratic co-chair Katherine Sims of Craftsbury, Republican co-chair Lisa Hango of Berkshire, and Independent co-chair Laura Sibilia of Dover. Rep. Monique Priestley, D-Bradford, is the caucus clerk.

According to a news release, the Rural Caucus “is seeking to build on the success of the first-ever Rural Economic Development Omnibus Bill (H.581) in the last biennium and to address the opportunities and challenges in rural Vermont. Following elections, the group dove into a facilitated discussion to share individual members' priorities for the upcoming session to once again make a path toward collaborative efforts and joint statement.”

“The rural caucus has a long history of bringing the voices and values of rural Vermonters to the Statehouse. I look forward to working with our members in the coming session to advance policies that strengthen and support Vermont's rural communities and economy,” Sims said.

“Rural districts throughout Vermont are experiencing so many challenges related to capacity and need. My goal for the Caucus is to realize economic resiliency and prosperity for all Vermont towns, which may look different in each one of them. As a tri-partisan co-chair, I look forward to working collaboratively towards our common goals by building coalitions, listening to the needs of our rural communities, and developing policy that benefit all Vermonters,” said Hango.

“This is a watershed moment for rural Vermont,” said Sibilia. “Broadband expansion and buildout is rapidly accelerating with rural Vermonters leading one of the largest public works projects in Vermont's history. Ensuring energy modernization and climate change adaptation reach all of our communities will require similar levels of mobilization. This caucus serves a key communications and coordination role between rural Vermont and policymakers.”

Common themes among the Rural Caucus included increasing rural municipal capacity, housing in rural communities, support for emergency services and dispatch services, road maintenance, and workforce development, climate resiliency, and many other substantive ideas to consider during the 2023 session.

The Rural Caucus is a tri-partisan caucus made up of more than 50 members of the Vermont House of Representatives who share a goal of advancing policy that strengthens and supports Vermont's rural communities and economy. Over the years, the group has worked to support initiatives to expand access to affordable broadband, ensure equitable funding for Vermont's rural schools, and invest in Vermont's farm and forest economies.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting locally defined progress of Vermont's rural communities, is providing staff support for the Rural Caucus given the multi-partisan makeup of the group. Learn more at

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