Advocacy and Action

Vermont statehouse in Montpelier

The Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds maintains a proactive presence with the Vermont Legislature and with the state government to advocate for policies to preserve and protect Vermont’s lakes, ponds, and watersheds.

We advocate for:

  • sustainable long-term funding for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of Vermont’s natural resources and for the prevention and management of aquatic invasive species spread;
  • prevention and remediation of negative environmental impacts on our waters, such as pollution, stormwater runoff, point and nonpoint source discharge, and climate change;
  • programs promoting waterbody-related research and management, tactical basin planning, preservation of natural ecosystems, and wildlife conservation;
  • appropriate staffing at VTDEC to ensure adequate technical guidance and support for our lake associations and lakes and ponds stewards and volunteers.

Our work also includes monitoring current Vermont legislation, providing up to date information on the progress of water related bills as they move through the legislative process, testifying before legislative committees to raise awareness of the issues and challenges affecting our public waters, and providing information and support to our membership on advocacy.

FOVLAP members are encouraged to contact us via this website with any concerns, questions, or comments during the course of the legislative session or the remainder of the year regarding any issues of importance to lake associations and the protection and management of Vermont’s public waters and their watersheds.

FOVLAP Legislative Updates (our bills post)

How to Advocate with The Vermont Legislature

This guide provides useful tips on how to navigate the legislative process, advocate effectively, write to or email a state legislator and testify on a bill. Federation members, lake associations, and the public are encouraged to become involved in the legislative process. Advocate to advance lake-friendly public policies and offer testimony on legislative bills to protect and preserve Vermont’s precious lakes, ponds, watersheds, and healthy aquatic ecosystems. We also include information on finding your legislators, legislative committee schedules, and tracking bills of interest.

Testifying Before a Legislative Committee

Testifying is a great way to show support when it matters. Legislators take into consideration how many individuals and groups turned out to testify on a bill.

Preparing your testimony:

  • To find the schedules of Committee meetings, go to https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/list/2024
  • Be aware that schedules may change, even at the last moment. Stay current on the date and time of public hearings and testimony by reviewing the Senate and House calendars:
  • Senate: https://legislature.vermont.gov/senate/service/2024/calendar??
  • House: https://legislature.vermont.gov/house/service/2024/calendar??
  • Review this handout, “Witness Information for Legislative Hearings”
  • Prepare an outline or script for your conversation or testimony.
  • Introduce yourself. Provide your name, where you live, and if you’re a constituent.
  • Indicate whether you are speaking as an individual or if you are representing your lake association or the Federation.
    • NOTE: Be sure that you have authorization from your lake association to speak on their behalf. Anyone wishing to speak on behalf of the Federation must be authorized to do so by the Federation President, Executive Committee, or Board.
  • Even if you do not vote in Vermont, your voice still counts. Feel free to introduce yourself to your legislator as, “a property owner in your district.”
  • If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. You can offer to help find the answer from a reputable source.
  • Be professional, polite, clear, and concise
  • Make an ask, e.g., please support/oppose…
  • Always present the facts and avoid emotional responses.
  • Vermont citizen legislators are volunteers, and their hours add up. Always say thank you.
  • Many of us feel nervous the first time we speak to a state legislator. Practice your conversation or your testimony. If submitting written testimony be sure to proofread it carefully.

Procedures to Expect on the day of testimony

  • On the day of the hearing/testimony arrive at least 15 minutes prior to when the meeting is scheduled to begin if you are testifying in person. If testifying remotely, log in 15 minutes early as well. Committees don’t always stick to schedule and can move faster than shown on the schedule.
  • Listen to what is being said by other people to the committee. Avoid unnecessary redundancy, unless you want to place greater emphasis on something.
  • To provide comments on a discussion, or another person’s testimony, you must first be recognized to do so by the Committee Chair.
  • Committee members always appreciate conciseness and brevity. Unless you are an expert in a certain subject and are asked to go into great detail, your testimony should not exceed 10 minutes.
  • The committee chair will call you forward when it is your turn to speak.

Calling or Meeting with a State Legislator

  • Write down what you plan to say so you are ready when they, or their voicemail, pick up or when you meet them in person
  • Introduce yourself and explain the reason you are calling. For example, “Good afternoon Representative __________, my name is _________ and I live in your district in the town of __________. I am calling in regard to ________. I would like you to support/oppose _______ because… (include data/facts, personal anecdotes or other relevant information to support your case).
  • Be sure to indicate whether you are representing your lake association or the Federation (see note above about ensuring you have authorization to do so).
  • Legislators don’t have offices or office phones. You are most likely calling them on their home phone or personal cell phone.
  • Always be courteous and professional. Say thank you!

Writing to a State Legislator by Letter or Email

  • Introduce yourself and explain why you are writing.
  • If you are writing regarding a specific piece of legislation, include the title of the bill in the subject line. In the first sentence of two, state whether you want them to support or oppose that specific bill. For example, “I am writing to ask you to support Senate bill, S.123 because…” or “I am writing to ask you to oppose Senate bill, S.123 because…”
  • Consider using a personal story to explain how a piece of legislation would affect you and how you think it will affect your community.
  • It’s always good practice to include research or data to support your position. However, be concise.
  • Include your contact information—address, phone number, and email—and say thank you!

Who is my Legislator?

You can search for your legislator(s) in the General Assembly on the Vermont General Assembly’s website. Click here to search by name or town.

How Does a Bill Become Law in Vermont?

The Vermont General Assembly’s website provides a simple graphic on how a bill becomes law in Vermont. Click here. The nine-step process is:

  1. Bill introduction/first reading.
  2. Bill referral.
  3. Committee consideration.
  4. Second reading.
  5. Third reading.
  6. Other chamber considerations.
  7. Committee of Conference.
  8. Governor’s signature.
  9. Bill enactment

How do I Track a Bill?

Go to https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/search/2024?

You can search by:

  • Bill or resolution number; for example, S.125 or H.345
  • Act number; for example, 34
  • keyword and/or sponsor: for example, water and/or Jane Doe

More Information

This document was adapted with permission from a version originally published by

NHLakes, www.nhlakes.org

Vermont Legislature Quick Links