Legislative priorities extend beyond the state mushroom

Thank you for covering the priorities of Windham County legislators.

Numerous issues were reported about my colleagues, but the only bill described for me was the Vermont State Mushroom bill. I am excited about that bill, which honors not only mushrooms as a symbol of Vermont but also promotes youth engagement in the democratic process.

However, as I stated in a recent piece in The Commons: The mushroom bill is not the most important issue the Legislature will be facing this next year, and it is certainly not the most important issue I am putting forward, even though I have worked hard on it, and do hope it moves forward.

In the 2024 session I am introducing five new bills:

Two of my bills address housing:

1. Development of permanent supportive housing. (This is my most important bill, also being offered by Sen. Wendy Harrison, D-Windham County, in the Senate.)

2. Establishment of tiny house zoning (also important because it will increase housing options, especially for family members).

Two of my new bills address our justice and corrections system:

3. Making community service a more viable option than "a weekend in prison." (Currently, an individual can choose 200 hours of community service or 60 hours incarcerated for certain charges. My bill would make them equal options, requiring 60 hours for either. It is important to increase meaningful reparative options rather than time incarcerated.)

4. Asking the Department of Corrections to develop meaningful, skill-based work programs for incarcerated individuals.

The other new bill addresses Vermont State symbols:

5. I have been working with two groups of school students to encourage Vermont to pick a VT State Mushroom: Bear's Head Tooth.

I have three other bills that were submitted in 2023 which address bail reform, leg-hold traps, and peer respite housing (to provide less expensive and more supportive mental health options for individuals in crisis).

I am looking forward to serving my constituents and helping shape policy for all of Vermont in the new session.

I have received more feedback about the mushroom bill from Vermonters than about any of my other bills this fall, but I do want the people of Windham County to know that I am working on many other issues, too! I worked 24-plus hours per week with unhoused individuals as a case manager and shelter advocate this year outside of the Legislature. Housing, mental health, and justice reform are my priorities in this next session.

I was also recently contacted by a farmer concerned about frost damage to the apple crop this year. I am going to co-sponsor legislation to support farmers in this situation. I am also co-sponsoring a number of other bills regarding housing and justice reform and climate issues that I am optimistic will become law before we adjourn in May.

Along with my district-mate, Rep. Leslie Goldman (D-Rockingham), and our two Windham County senators, Wendy Harrison and Nader Hashim, I look forward to meeting constituents on the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. at the Rockingham Free Public Library. People are welcome to contact me at [email protected] to address issues facing our communities and our state.

I am looking forward to the new session and to serving the people of Vermont in the months and years to come.

Michelle Bos-Lun


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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