Vermont Legislature

Sharing A Ride, Not Politics: Freshmen Lawmakers Reflect On Their New Jobs

Sharing A Ride, Not Politics: Freshmen Lawmakers Reflect On Their New Jobs

Try to picture a “help wanted” ad that reads something like this:

“Large, financially ailing employer seeks part-time workers to solve tough problems in a partisan environment - with very little job security.”

So ... are you going to apply?

Now, that’s a cynical reporter’s take on the job of a Vermont state legislator. But 2015 won’t be easy – there are big budget problems, rising healthcare costs, and an out-of-whack education funding system.

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Shumlin: Businesses Should Contribute To Payroll Tax

Shumlin: Businesses Should Contribute To Payroll Tax

Focusing on health care costs, property taxes, higher education and economic development, Gov. Peter Shumlin delivered his annual budget address yesterday.

VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with the governor about his proposal.

Wertlieb: The big news in your speech was a proposal for a 0.7 percent payroll tax. This would raise $90 million dollars annually, and it will allow the state to get $100 million in additional federal money. That's a lot of money, and health care providers are responding positively, like the idea because Medicaid reimbursement rates they've been saying for years are too low to pay for the Medicaid services people use. But what I'm wondering about is the criticism you've probably already heard. House Minority Leader Don Turner has criticized the payroll tax to pay for this as being too burdensome on business, especially businesses that don't contribute to employee health costs. What would you say to those businesses to convince them they should support that cost?  

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Pappas: Legislative Technology

When my great-grandfather served in the legislature decades ago, crafting laws was a slow, deliberate, contentious process – dependent on tools mostly long gone from our culture – like stenographers, typewriters, carbons and telegrams. Revisions took time to typeset and duplicate, affording legislators plenty of opportunity to discuss bills at gatherings. Politics have always played a role in legislation, but bills became law only after lengthy consideration. So in the end, most lawmakers knew exactly what they were voting for.

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Economic Policy 'Not Firing On All Cylinders'

Economic Policy 'Not Firing On All Cylinders'

As legislators get down to business in Montpelier, a big priority for Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is business itself. Namely, what the business community says would help it thrive in the coming year.  In his inaugural address on Jan. 8, Scott said Vermont "economic policies are not firing on all cylinders" and that the Legislature should make the economy and workforce its top priority.

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Protest At The Governor's Inaugural Wasn't Unprecedented

Protest At The Governor's Inaugural Wasn't Unprecedented

Last week's protest at the Statehouse during Gov. Peter Shumlin's inaugural address wasn't the first time that a governor's speech has been interrupted by protesters. A similar incident took place 24 years ago.

The date was Jan. 16, 1991 and Gov. Richard Snelling was set to deliver his budget address to a joint assembly at the Statehouse.

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Senate Bill Calls For More, Stricter Gun Background Checks

Senate Bill Calls For More, Stricter Gun Background Checks

It’s been more than two years since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. But gun-control efforts sparked by the school shooting are still very much underway in Vermont. And some key Vermont senators are about to introduce what will become one of the most controversial bills of the 2015 legislative session.

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Senate Natural Resources, Education Committees Get New Leaders

Two Senate committees expected to play a central role in this year's major policy overhauls got new leadership Friday when the Senate Committee on Committees (which is an actual thing) appointed committees for the upcoming biennium.

Sen. Christopher Bray (D - Addison) is the new chairman of  Senate Natural Resources and Energy, which will play a vital role in Gov. Peter Shumlin's initiative to clean up Lake Champlain. Shumlin promised in his inaugural address to take on water pollution issues by cracking down on polluting farms and devoting new resources to help farms working to reduce water pollution.

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Analysis: Shumlin Needs Support Of Centrists, Environmentalists

Analysis: Shumlin Needs Support Of Centrists, Environmentalists

Months of waiting are over. A joint assembly of Vermont's House and Senate made it official yesterday: Gov. Peter Shumlin gained a third two-year term with a vote total of 110 to 69 over Republican challenger Scott Milne.

 

An election where one candidate doesn't gain 50 percent of the vote in November is not that unusual, but this time around, what happened afterward was unusual. Typically, when no candidate has gotten 50 percent of the vote, the second place vote-getter has conceded and the legislative vote becomes largely a formality.

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Shumlin Targets Energy and Environment In Inaugural Address

Shumlin Targets Energy and Environment In Inaugural Address

Just hours after he was elected to a third term by a vote of the Legislature, Gov. Peter Shumlin delivered an inaugural address that focused on just two issues: renewable energy and the future of Lake Champlain.  

Shumlin had to thread his way through a large crowd of protesters as he walked from his Statehouse ceremonial office to the House chamber to deliver his speech.

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Going Paperless: Lawmakers Govern With A $10 iPad App

Going Paperless: Lawmakers Govern With A $10 iPad App

Lawmakers are tough on trees. Drafting legislation, passing notes, and painstakingly documenting every step of their process uses up a lot of paper.

“Many of us would have 2 piles that were eight, 12 inches high of just paper,” said Rep. Alice Emmons, the chair of the House Corrections and Institutions Committee.  “And then our file cabinets were all full.”

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