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Young lawmakers join Vermont Future Caucus coalition to advocate for youth voters

A woman speaks into several microphones at a podium. Six others stand in a line behind. A sign for Future Caucus Vermont is on the right.
Peter Hirschfeld
/
Vermont Public
Reps. Lucy Boyden, Emilie Krasnow, Jay Hooper, Mary-Katherine Stone, Casey Toof and Esme Cole, from left, are members of a new coalition of younger lawmakers, called the Future Caucus. The group says it plans to advocate for policies that make the state a more attractive place to young people.

The number of younger Vermonters serving in the Legislature has grown in recent years.

They’re hoping to use those numbers to advance policies that will make the state more attractive to young people.

27-year-old Esme Cole is one of the 38 Millennial or Gen Z lawmakers serving in Montpelier.

The first-term representative from White River Junction says her more seasoned colleagues aren’t always convinced the newbies know their stuff.

“So I think it takes a little more chutzpah to be able to prove ourselves, and a little bit more endurance to prove that we deserve a seat at the table.”

Randolph Rep. Jay Hooper says the voices of younger lawmakers can get marginalized during policy debates in the Statehouse.

“I can tell you that ageism is a daily reality here – it goes both directions.”

Cole and Hooper are part of Vermont Future Caucus, a local tri-partisan coalition of lawmakers that's formed through the national Future Caucus organization. Future Caucus works with young lawmakers at the federal and state level to bridge partisan divide and support a new era of collaborative governance.

Cole says Vermont's group will try to form a powerful voting bloc that advances policies of interest to younger constituents.

One example: the caucus says it plans to pursue legislation this year that would reduce prison terms for incarcerated individuals who complete educational programming.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Peter Hirschfeld:

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The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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