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Press Release: Legislative Panel Hears Strong Support for Working Lands Bill

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MONTPELIER, VT – Vermont Rural Jobs Bill Draws a Crowd: A legislative panel holding a public hearing on the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Investment bill found a statehouse room packed to capacity Wednesday evening, where more than 100 people turned out – most in support of the bill. Close to 40 testified, with all but a very few expressing enthusiasm for the bill. Carl Russell said, “It’s about time,” summing up the feelings of many in the room. At the same time, Russell lamented a missing word in the bill: “stewardship.” He asked the panel to make sure to focus on land stewardship as well as enterprise.

Tom Slayton noted that the working landscape did not just happen. It was made by “more than two centuries of toil and intelligence.” He added, “This bill is our best hope.”

David Zuckerman encouraged support for the bill saying that infrastructure investment and marketing is where the state can lead the way, and if it does, the private sector will step up.

Ted Ferris noted that the forest products industry has suffered for many years from an undeserved negative bias. Ferris said that the Working Lands Enterprise Investment bill helps to recognize the contribution that this sector makes to our economy.

Mike Rainville added that the forest products industry is the second largest sector of Vermont’s economy.

Several legislators attended the hearing to listen to the testimony, including members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees, the Senate Economic Development committee, the House Commerce committee, the House Ways and Means and Appropriations committees, and others.

The House and Senate Agriculture committees will continue to hold hearings on the bill in the coming weeks. More information about the bill and related activities can be found at www.vtworkinglands.org.