Legislative freshmen

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(Host) The opening day of the session holds few surprises. But that doesn’t mean it lacks excitement – especially for the newest members of the legislature. VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Opening day at the Vermont legislature is a well-choreographed series of time worn rites. All day, nary a nay vote is heard. But the day is not without unexpected moments – even for veteran members who may be settling into new rolls.

[Gavel sounds] “The House will please come to order…I need a better gavel!”

(Zind) For freshman members of the legislature the day is particularly memorable.

(Haas) I’m very excited.

(Zind) Sandy Haas of Rochester is a newly elected Progressive house member. Haas has visited the legislature in the past and she’s a practicing lawyer, so the business of making laws isn’t entirely unfamiliar to her. Still, there are certain arcane details of life in the legislature that she’s just learning.

(Haas) “I got a call yesterday from a veteran Republican legislator who had little pieces of advice for me: when to stand up, when to sit down – to make sure that I got very clear about the rules.

(Zind) The State House is rarely more crowded than it is on a session’s opening day. Many new lawmakers bring their families. Haas is accompanied by her partner, David Marmor. Marmor says a legislator’s long hours in Montpelier will have an effect on their lives.

(Marmor) We both wonder how it’s going to affect our relationship, because it is a situation where she’ll be here overnight during the week.

(Zind) Marmor proudly watches as Haas and the other house members take the oath of office.

For Sandy Haas the day ends with an ice cream social for house members. It’s unlikely the coming weeks will be as festive or relaxed as today, but Haas says she expects it will continue to be an enjoyable experience.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind at the State House.

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