Monthly Archives: May 2011

From one free spirit to another

This from Sanders' office: 

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday awarded Willie Nelson the 2011 Vermont Free Spirit Award.

The senator made the presentation during a weekend concert by the country music legend at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, Vt.

The award was given to Nelson "in honor of your tireless support of our nation's family farmers, and in honor of the genuine, inspiring spirit of freedom with which you live your life and create your music." 

The plaque said the award was presented "on behalf of the people of our independent state, WBKM Radio, The Farm Aid Vermont Committee and United States Senator Bernie Sanders." 

Sanders and others who met with Nelson before the concert invited him to stage his annual Farm Aid concert in Vermont during the summer of 2012 to help preserve family farms and to celebrate Vermont's agriculture heritage. 

"Willie Nelson has been a great supporter of family farmers in Vermont," said Sanders. "Willie Nelson is an American hero. In addition to being one of the great entertainers of our time, he has been a leading supporter of family farmers in Vermont and across the nation."

Governor Shumlin makes appointments to regional Environmental committees

Gov. Peter Shumlin made the following appointments to District Environmental Commissions:


District #1 (Rutland County)

APPOINT:  Herb Ogden, Mt. Tabor – CHAIR

APPOINT:  Julie Sperling, Pawlet – Alternate

APPOINT:  Hope Blucher, Danby – Alternate

APPOINT:  John Liccardi, Castleton – Alternate

REAPPOINT:  Amanda Beraldi, Rutland – Member


District #4 (Chittenden County)


                REAPPOINT:  Tom Little, Shelburne  CHAIR

REAPPOINT:  James McNamara,  Burlington – Alternate

APPOINT:  Marcy Harding, Richmond – Member

APPOINT:  Monique Gilbert, Jericho – alternate

APPOINT:  Krista Reinhart, Burlington – Alternate

                REAPPOINT:  Parker Riehle, – Member


District #5 ( Washington and Lamoille Counties)


                APPOINT: Jito Coleman, Warren – CHAIR

                APPOINT: Ginny Callan, Montpelier  – ALTERNATE

                REAPPOINT: Karl Johnson, Montpelier – MEMBER


District #7 – (Caledonia, Orleans and Essex Counties)


REAPPOINT:  Eugene Reid, Canaan – CHAIR

APPOINT: Clarke Atwell, Kirby – ALTERNATE

APPOINT:  Laura Wilson, Guildhall  – MEMBER

APPOINT:  Dexter Randall, Troy – ALTERNATE

                APPOINT:  Sue Holmes, Hardwick – ALTERNATE


District #8 – (Bennington County)


APPOINT:  Joan Goodrich, Bennington CHAIR

APPOINT:  Lon McLintock, Shaftsbury -ALTERNATE

APPOINT:  Ed Weissman, Dorset  – ALTERNATE

APPOINT:  Ruth Botzow, Pownal –MEMEBER

REAPPOINT:  Francis Morrissey, Bennington-MEMBER

REAPPOINT:  Leslie Keefe, Manchester Center -ALTERNATE


District #9 (Addison County)

                APPOINT:  Jean Richardson, Ferrisburg – ALTERNATE

APPOINT:  Amy Sheldon, Middlebury – ALTERNATE

APPOINT:  Elizabeth Ready, Lincoln – ALTERNATE

REAPPOINT- Barbara Gibb Otsuka – CHAIR

REAPPOINT-Katherine Manaras, Lincoln – ALTERNATE

REAPPOINT:  Thomas Wallace, Bristol – MEMBER

Shumlin breaks out veto pen

Gov. Peter Shumlin issued his first ever veto on Thursday, striking down S.77, a bill that would have required testing of wells when a piece of property is sold and when it's first drilled.

It wasn't very controversial in the Legislature, but apparently the governor didn't think too highly of it. 

Here's the message he sent to the Senate.

“We have a responsibility with every bill that we pass to ensure that we are not imposing costs on hardworking Vermonters in rural areas. Every mandate from Montpelier must be balanced with this reality. Vermonters, on average, are earning what they made ten years ago. The vast majority of Vermont’s well water is clean and safe. The General Assembly’s desire to promote safe drinking water is one we all share, but I don’t believe the government should mandate the testing of every single new well, with the cost and burden on individual private property owners that this bill would impose.”  


Welch puts positive spin on failed amendments

Amendments co-sponsored by Vermont's Rep. Peter Welch that were intended to bring about a speedier end to the war in Afghanistan were rejected by the House on Thursday following a Wednesday night debate.

But in a news release, Welch said the votes show more representatives are tiring of the war. 

One of the amendments — which garnered a bit of national press coverage — "would have required the Secretary of Defense to, within 60 days of enactment, present a plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan except those engaged in counter-terrorism activities," according to the news release.

The amendment, coauthored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), failed by a vote of 123 to 294 and had the support of 18 Republicans. A similar measure earlier this year received 93 favorable votes with only eight of those cast by Republicans.

Another amendment went down 204 to 215, which also was an improvement compared to an earlier vote.

The amendments were not expected to pass, and Welch accentuated the positive. 

“While we did not prevail today, I am heartened that the votes reveal bipartisan opposition to this ten-year-old war is growing,” Welch said in a statement. “It is becoming clearer every day that it makes no sense for American taxpayers to fund a nation-building policy in a hopelessly corrupt Afghanistan, especially given our fiscal challenges at home. General Petraeus tells us there are less than 100 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. A more effective approach to the serious threat of terrorism is a targeted, worldwide counter-terrorism strategy similar to the intelligence and special operations mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.”

Vermont tax revenues ahead of forecast in April

Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding has released the April revenue results for the state, and they show a continued trend of beating the expectations set by the Emergency Board in January.

April General Fund revenues were 6.8 percent, or just over $10 million over the forecast of $151 million in revenue for the month, which leaves the fund almost $12 million ahead of target for the fiscal year. However, Spaulding sounded a note of caution, saying that the economic recovery and conditions are still very uncertain.

“With two months remaining in the current fiscal year, we are hopeful that we will be able to maintain our above target results through the end of the year," he said. "We do, however, recognize that external events, such as the escalation in fuel prices or adverse weather impacts, could dampen the pace of economic recovery and affect our revenues. We caution against concluding, at this point, that revenues for the next fiscal year will be ahead of target.”

Personal income tax and corporate income tax receipts continued to show strength ahead of forecast, while results for consumption taxes (sales & use and meals & rooms) were mixed.

Vermont Judiciary announces furlough days

Citing budget constraints, the Vermont Supreme Court has declared 12 furlough days for the remainder of the fiscal year for all judiciary employees. Two courts in the state will remain open on these days on a restricted basis to handle public health and safety concerns.From the press release:

The Supreme Court in response to the financial crisis of State
Government began instituting furlough days in order to meet reduced
budgets in FY2010. Unfortunately, the State’s financial position has not
improved and the Supreme Court will have to continue the use of
furlough days to meet budget expectations.

The furlough days, which run through the end of Fiscal 2012, are:

May 6, June 3, June 24, July 29, August 26, September 23, October 21 and December 16, 2011, and January 27, February 24, March 16, April 20, May 18 and June 15, 2012.