The Leahy Letter - March 4, 2010

Senator Patrick Leahy's Update from the Nation's Capital

Leahy Takes Website 'To Next Level'

Senator Leahy is an online pacesetter on Capitol Hill and has launched a full redesign of his website. The new site builds on the foundations of Senator Leahy's previous award-winning website. Highlights of the new site include easy ways to contact Senator Leahy, including customized forms for such common requests as submitting intern, page, and academy nomination applications, for submitting requests for flags flown above the Capitol and for Washington tours.  The new site also includes new photo galleries of events in Vermont and Washington, including some of Senator Leahy's photographs.  When you visit the new site, you will see the incorporation of YouTube videos across the site and an improved design to help you find information on issues important to you.

Over the last decade, Vermonters have steadily and dramatically shifted from using postal mail to using the Internet to contact Senator Leahy and email now accounts for about 90 percent of Vermonters' messages to Senator Leahy's offices in Vermont and Washington. Please visit the new website or click here to send a message to Senator Leahy.

Planning A Trip To Nation's Capital This Spring?

Spring is a busy time on Capitol Hill. Just as Vermonters are ready to shed their winter coats, flowers begin to bloom around Washington's many monuments and public spaces. It's also a time when Vermont schools are on vacation and many families travel to the Nation’s Capital. If you and your family or school group are traveling to Washington, Senator Leahy invites you to stop by his office on Capitol Hill. His staff can help plan tours for the White House, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the National Archives and of course the Capitol Building. The White House starts taking tour requests six months in advance and spots fill up quickly. You can schedule tours of the Capitol Visitor Center through their online form. If you are traveling with a school group, you can contact Senator Leahy's office to arrange for a visit with him during your stay. Due to the volume of requests received, patience is appreciated.

Senator Leahy also hosts Green Mountain Coffee Hours in his Washington, D.C., office throughout the spring, so check the Upcoming Events section of the new website to see if one is happening during your visit. Please contact the Washington office at (202) 224-4242 or the Burlington office at (800) 642-3193 for more information.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack At Vermont Meetings

Senator Leahy joined Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch at several events with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on February 13.  The first event of the day was a dairy town meeting in Burlington where farmers had a chance to meet informally and then question the Secretary on several issues facing dairy producers.  Secretary Vilsack then addressed nearly 1,000 people attending the winter conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.  Senator Leahy wrote the nation’s organic standards and labeling law over a decade ago to create strong and credible standards to build consumer confidence in organic products and producer confidence in a fair and straightforward standards.  The third event of the day was at the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery’s annual meeting at the St. Albans Central School.  More than 500 farmers and dairy industry business owners attended and had the opportunity to ask dairy related questions of the Secretary.  It is the first time that a U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has joined the Coop’s annual meeting. 

Visit Senator Leahy’s new website for more information on his ongoing efforts to help dairy farmers, strengthen organic standards and improve federal nutrition programs.

Senator Leahy Promotes Successful Vermont Housing Program As A Model For The Nation

Last week, Senator Leahy headlined an event at the Center for American Progress Progress in Washington to spotlight the success of Shared Equity, an innovative model to promote homeownership. Brenda Torpy, the Chief Executive Officer of Champlain Housing Trust - a group that has boosted homeownership using this model - also spoke at the event. The housing model works by providing potential homeowners with down payment help that is then permanently tied to the home.  The results expand access to homeownership to moderate and low income families, while at the same time preserving future options for affordable housing.

You can watch an interview with Brenda and excerpts from Senator Leahy’s opening remarks at the Center for American Progress here or visit Senator Leahy's website for more information on affordable housing.

Checking In With Boys & Girls Clubbers In Brattleboro

Senator Leahy stopped by the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro on February 16 during visits in southern Vermont.  He toured the Club's Flat Street facility and talked with kids and staff.  Senator Leahy has championed the Boys & Girls Club of America through legislation, funding and grant programs through the U.S. Department of Justice.  Participation in Boys & Girls Clubs is higher than ever, and the Flat Street location sees 50 to 80 kids every day during the week. There are six Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Vermont, operating in 25 locations.  During his visit to Brattleboro, Senator Leahy also stopped by Omega Optical to announce $1,075,000 in economic development and community development appropriations.  You can read more on that announcement here.

Save The Date - 14th Annual Women's Economic Opportunity Conference

Marcelle and Senator Leahy remind Vermonters that it's time to mark your Spring calendars for the upcoming 14th annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference. Please join them at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center on Saturday, May 15, 2010.  The keynote speaker this year will be Karen Mills, the Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Last fall, the Women's Conference focused on the universality of women and their ability to view themselves in many different career capacities. This spring, our workshops will build on this concept, and take the tools from the fall workshops to spring into action in 2010.

Registration will be available on the Leahy website at the beginning of April, but in the meantime, make a date for Saturday, May 15, 2010.