In November, a group of 50 engaged citizens, law students, and legislators completed the first “Legithon” event in the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. The participants devoted the weekend to creating innovative new policies that would benefit Vermont’s economy. After hearing an inspiring opening speech from Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore, John Campbell, the Legithon participants divided into eight teams with each team working on a specific policy idea. Ideas ranged from creating a tax holiday and event supporting the local crafts industry to an idea to encourage more entrepreneurship within the military veteran community by providing preferences for small business loans and other incentives. Here is a complete list of the teams and their policy ideas from the Legithon.
The award for most imaginative legislation was awarded to Crafts Crawl, a proposal to create a “Crafts Crawl” event, showcasing and increasing local craft sales, as well as a mobile app to serve the crafts market in Vermont.
The winner of the best legislative language and drafting was awarded to Connect Vermont, a proposal for a feasibility study exploring full-coverage of wireless Internet through satellite technology.
The winner of the most persuasive legislative proposal was awarded to Vetrepreneurship: A proposal to incentivize small business entrepreneurship in Vermont by giving military veterans preferential treatment in receiving small business loans.
The winner of the best overall if highly difficult proposal was awarded to the team Break the Cycle, Break the Cage, a proposal to create an online education program in the prison system that should prove more economical than existing education programs and reduce recidivism.
The winner of the most fiscally neutral and beneficial program was awarded to Stimulating Smart Growth, A proposal to encourage energy efficient development practices through downtown development initiatives in Vermont.
“The collaboration, time constraints, and mentorships were really helpful in developing my understanding of public policy and converting my ideas into action,” said participant Britmy Martinez, a law school student and member of the winning Smart Growth team.
Legithon facilitator and start-up coach Julian Bryant agreed. “Like other entrepreneurial start up events, the energy of diverse teams tackling a project is electric. The combined efforts of teams, mentors, legislators and experts created new ideas and opportunities that don’t typically emerge from the legislative process.”
Additional Legithons are being planned in selected cities across the U.S. in 2016. For more information, a full list of policy teams, text of proposals and supporting materials, see http://vermontlaw.edu/legithon-results.