WARDSBORO -- State Rep. John Moran’s district straddles two counties and includes seven towns.
And his House of Representatives committee, living up to the word "general" in its name, takes on a long list of issues -- many of which simply do not fit anywhere else.
But the Wardsboro resident says he is seeking a fifth term in the House because he is focused on several key issues including the economy, education and health coverage. The latter issue will be taking center stage as Vermont continues to move toward universal, publicly funded health care.
"Universal health care has been probably the driver for me from the beginning," Moran said. "We’re going to face a real challenge in defining the coverage and defining how we’re going to pay for that system."
Moran is in his fourth term representing the Windham-Bennington House District, which includes Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and part of Whitingham.
The Democrat has no opposition in the Aug. 26 primary election. But two independents -- Laura Sibilia and Philip Gilpin Jr., both of Dover -- have filed papers to run for the seat in November’s general election.
Moran believes his eight years in the House are an asset to the district.
"What’s a benefit is the experience I already have in the Legislature and what I’ve already accomplished there," Moran said. "But most importantly, the relationships I’ve built within the House and the Senate and the administration.
Moran is vice chairman of the General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee. "We get labor bills, we get alcohol and drug bills, we get lottery bills, we get cemetery bills -- we get everything no one else gets," he said.
The committee also works with labor-related legislation, and Moran -- as co-chairman of the Working Vermonters Legislative Caucus -- has particular interest in such issues. He has pushed hard for mandatory paid sick leave for all Vermont workers and for a boost in the state’s minimum wage.
The sick-time issue received attention in the 2014 session but did not make it through the Legislature. "I expect it to pass next time around," Moran said.
Lawmakers did approve a bill raising the minimum wage incrementally to $10.50 per hour by 2018. Moran applauded that, but he doesn’t think the wage hike went far enough.
"I think, as we move forward, and businesses adjust to the change, we need to move it up quicker," he said, adding that he will advocate for a study "to look at what effect raising the minimum wage will have on businesses and what effect it will have on people who are paid on the lowest level in our state."
Moran said he also is interested in economic issues such as improving worker conditions, small-business development and tax reform. On health care, Moran pledges that lawmakers "will improve the enrollment process and determine the financing for universal coverage."
Education is another big issue for Moran. As a member of Wardsboro School Board, he strongly opposed controversial legislation that would have mandated consolidation of many of Vermont’s small school districts.
That bill advanced through the House in 2014 but went no farther. "I couldn’t support it. I voted against it. It was top-down," Moran said. "We have excellent small schools that are working together in ways that they can, but they don’t need to be told to consolidate."
He sees a need to address educational governance and funding, but only with more "local direction." Moran also opposes any attempt to do away with the state’s small-school grants, pointing to the potential impact on his district.
"The cost to the district I represent would be $387,000 total for the five schools," Moran said. "These are crucial. This is what gives the schools a chance."