On Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, the Vermont General Assembly officially opened the 2021-22 Legislative Biennium. For some, it seemed we had barely left the 2020 session because members of the House and Senate have been working since we vacated the State House on Friday, March 13, due to COVID-19 to address the health, safety and economic impact the pandemic has had on Vermont. The opening day was unlike any in the history of our state with members Zooming in from remote locations to be sworn into their respective bodies; with new members taking the oath for the first time, but without families and friends in the chamber to witness this important moment; with both the House and Senate electing women as presiding officers (the pro tem being the first female pro tem in the history of Vermont). It was an exciting day, a cause for celebration, but dampened by the fact the virus still rages and the Assembly was not gathered together at the State House, that jewel of a building in Montpelier, to assume our responsibility, to swear “support the Constitution of the State of Vermont and the Constitution of the United States of America.”

But the inconvenience and disappointment caused by the pandemic to our opening ceremonies paled compared to the horror and dismay at what happened that afternoon in our nation’s Capitol. The failed coup attempt, the attempt to disrupt the certification of a lawfully held election and overturn the results, laid bare the consequences that the lying, deceit and the egotism of one person can have on the security and well-being of our country.

I’m proud that the Vermont House and Senate, following the example of our governor, passed the following joint resolution “condemning the storming of the U.S. Capitol … as an attack on Democracy,” but I’m heartbroken such a resolution was necessary.

Cheryl Hooker is state senator from Rutland.

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