Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shumlin on everything

At his weekly press conference Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin offered his thoughts and opinions on a range of familiar issues, from Vermont Yankee to the new version of the well-testing bill he vetoed last year. A quick rundown for you:

ON INCOMING UVM PRESIDENT THOMAS E. SULLIVAN:

“I think that the board made an extraordinary choice,” said Shumlin, who met with Sullivan after the UVM Board of Trustees settled on their choice. “He was very thoughtful, he listens well, he’s very bright, he has a great vision for the university.”

As for the president’s $447,000 annual salary, Shumlin said “I have never had a problem with paying a UVM president a competitive salary.” Continue reading

Health care debate rages on as Rs, Ds argue merits of exchange

As predicted, the debate over H.559 – legislation that will, beginning in 2014, establish Vermont’s health benefits exchange – turned on party lines Thursday as House Republicans used a floor debate to hammer home their misgivings about the bill.

The GOP is concerned chiefly about the involuntary mandates contained of the legislation. Federal law requires each state to have a health benefits exchange, but doesn’t require anyone to actually purchase their insurance from it. The Shumlin administration and House Democrats, by contrast, are forcing all individuals and all businesses with 50 or fewer employees – about 96,000 Vermonters total – to buy from the exchange. Continue reading

House Agriculture Committee just says ‘yes’ to working lands bill

MONTPELIER– Remember that “working lands” bill we wrote about a while back?

Since then the House and Senate Agriculture committees have taken weeks of testimony on legislation that would create a board that would give out grants and loans, help provide technical support and help build up infrastructure for the farming and forest products industries. Continue reading

Dems say Lisman ads violate elections laws

He swore late last year that his newly launched “Campaign for Vermont Prosperity” wouldn’t be political. But has Bruce Lisman already run afoul of Vermont’s campaign finance laws?

According to the Vermont Democratic Party, which filed a complaint today with Attorney General Bill Sorrell, Lisman’s organization has violated state law by engaging in overt electioneering without registering as a political action committee. Continue reading

Senate candidate worries Vt. becoming an ‘Indian reservation’

MONTPELIER — A 48-year-old Ripton resident told the Vermont Press Bureau on Tuesday he’s running for the Vermont Senate this year in Addison County and will be specifically targeting Sen. Claire Ayer’s seat.

Robert Wagner, who said he’s a business consultant for the IT company Oracle, hasn’t filed his paperwork yet, but has a campaign website up at www.senatorwagner.com. Continue reading

The Rundown – Week 7

The Rundown – This week Pete reviews the top three stories from the VPB.

Untitled from 802 Live on Vimeo.

Shumlin on Illuzzi, Vermont Yankee, AFT, Dubie case

MONTPELIER – The main event for Gov. Peter Shumlin’s presser Wednesday was the distribution of more than $2 million in block grants to communities around Vermont.

But he answered reporters’ questions on numerous topics. Here’s a sample.

VELCO: Shumlin said a plan afoot in the Senate to buy a majority share in the state’s transmission company VELCO (a proposal being championed by Sen. Vince Illuzzi and others) is a crackpot idea.

Shumlin said he respects Iluzzi, but “every once in awhile he has an idea that probably shouldn’t see the light of day, and this is probably one of them.” Continue reading

Senate committee hears reapportionment woes

MONTPELIER – Approximately 30 Vermonters voiced their concerns about the drafted Senate reapportionment plan on Wednesday afternoon.

The special senate reapportionment committee heardtestimony for an hour and a half on Wednesday at the Statehouse regarding draft map.

The legislature is required to redraw the house and senate districts based on new population data obtained by the census every ten years.

The draft proposal presented on Wednesday would make no change to Grand Isle, Orange or Caledonia County districts. The proposal adds Charlotte to the Addison County district and removed Brandon to place it in the Rutland County district.

The proposal adds Somerset to the Bennington County district from the Windham County district.

Bolton would be added to the Chittenden County district from the Washington County district. The proposal would add Berkshire and Belvidere to the Essex-Orleans district and removes Eden from the district. Mount Holly would be removed from the Rutland County district to be added to the Windsor district.

The majority of the public comments were voicing concerns against adding Charlotte to the Addison County district and keeping Eden and Belvidere together and in the Lamoille County district

Donna Spielman, a Charlotte resident, came to testify after starting a petition a few days ago of Charlotte residents who were against moving the town to the Addison County district.  Spielman said that since Saturday when she posted the online petition she has already had 167 signatures.

“Moving Charlotte to Addison County dilutes our vote,” said Spielman. “The plan ignores the economic, political and social concerns of our community.”

Sen. Jeanette White, a Putney Democrat, assured those in attendance that the committee would take their concerns into consideration when finalizing the districts, but warned that there is no way to make everyone happy.

“No change is without pain to someone,” said White. “Someone is going to end up being unhappy.”

State revenues disappointing for January, but better than 2011

MONTPELIER — A shortage of snow has hurt the Vermont economy and is one reason state tax revenues came in below target in January, the Shumlin administration said Wednesday.
General fund revenue was $4.7 million, or 3.5 percent, below target for the month, the administration said in a news release.
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said the results were disappointing but not surprising.
“The lack of snow is having an impact on consumption tax receipts, and personal income tax withholding was less than predicted,” Spaulding said in a written statement.
The underlying economy appears to be stronger than the January results indicate, he said.
Revenues are below target for the year so far by less than 1 percent. But Spaulding noted that January revenue was still 1.3 percent higher than a year ago, “indicative of our modest but steady recovery.”
The transportation fund was also down 3.4 percent. Non-property tax education fund revenue — which accounts for 12 percent of the education fund — was down 1.5 percent.

Sanders, Leahy outline changes to USPS legislation

BARRE – In a letter sent on Tuesday, Sens. Bernard Sanders and Patrick Leahy outlined changes they would like to see implemented to a bill that would reform the United States Postal Service.
The Vermont senators were joined by 25 other senators, all Democrats, who signed the letter, which proposes that the postal service be prohibited from closing facilities or slowing down first class mail delivery.
“We believe that this financial crisis can be solved in a way that does not substantially slow down the delivery of mail and harm rural America,” wrote the senators in the letter. Continue reading

The Campaign for Vermont marches on…

MONTPELIER – When a group launches into a news release by saying it “welcomed growing momentum,” it doesn’t seem to give much promise the following sentences and paraphraphs will deliver.

But Campaign for Vermont, launched by former Bear Stearns exec Bruce Lisman and others, is worth watching.

And the latest from the group includes a long list of the group’s most recent supporters, and names and faces are always fun.

Here’s the list of people the Campaign for Vermont identified  as its newest “partners,” after the break. Continue reading

In new radio ads, anti-single payer group targets Poirier, Woodward

A pair of new radio ads commissioned by the state’s leading anti-single-payer group will target by name two representatives on the House Committee on Health Care.

The 57-second spot, airing on four central Vermont stations, asks Reps. Paul Poirier and Mark Woodward to support legislation that would force the Shumlin administration to release a financing plan for its single-payer plan before this November.

The ad, paid for by Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, marks the latest attempt by Republicans to expose Peter Shumlin to the political liabilities inherent in establishing any new public-financing mechanism. Continue reading

State sues Dubie, RGA over 2010 campaign collaboration

Here’s the story from Thatcher Moats, with the court filings attached, published today in the Rutland Herald and Times Argus:

Brian Dubie campaigns during 2010

Vyto Starinskas photo / Brian Dubie campaigning during the 2010 gubernatorial race.

MONTPELIER — In a lawsuit that gives a glimpse at the inner workings of the bitter and expensive 2010 race for Vermont governor, the state attorney general is accusing former Republican candidate Brian Dubie and the Republican Governors Association of working closely together during the campaign.

The Vermont attorney general’s office sued in December, accusing Dubie’s campaign of sharing $93,000 worth of polling data with the RGA, which then used the information to create ads that supported Dubie and attacked his Democratic rival, Peter Shumlin, during the last weeks of the race.

Court Filings: State v RGA and Dubie

The polling data Dubie shared counts as an in-kind contribution to the RGA and broke the $2,000 limit campaigns are allowed to donate to political committees like the RGA, the complaint says.

The illegal contributions also ran in the other direction as a result of information sharing, prosecutors claim. The ads the RGA created using the polling data were worth more than $242,000 and count as an in-kind contribution to Dubie’s campaign, exceeding the $3,000 limit groups like the RGA can donate to candidates during an election, according to the state’s lawsuit. Continue reading

Shap Smith planning on another term as speaker

Those rumors circulating about this year being Shap Smith’s last in the Speaker’s office? He put them to rest today, confirming to the Vermont Press Bureau that he’s planning to serve another two-year term, if his constituents and colleagues will have him.

“There are a lot of different issues to deal with and I still enjoy working with my colleagues and trying to figure out how we can deal with issues like health care and education and the budget, and I’m still really interest in the challenge,” Smith said today.

Smith first announced his intention to run for reelection at a Democratic fundraiser last week, quelling rumors that the five-term rep had his eyes on a statewide post. Specifically, Statehouse insiders wondered if Smith was eying a run for attorney general. Smith is a highly regarded lawyer for one of the state’s top firms, Dinsey Knapp & McAndrew.

Smith said he has unfinished business inMontpelier on the issue of health care and education especially.

“There is still a lot to do on the heath care front, and I’m interested in working to make sure we bring costs down, or stabilize them, and try to bring everybody into the system,” he said.

The Rundown Week 6 – Opposition to child care workers union

This week on The Rundown Thatcher Moats gives some insight into the reason behind Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell’s opposition to legislation that would allow child care workers to unionize.

The Rundown – Week 6 from 802 Live on Vimeo.