Governor

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Minter outlines plan for energy future

Sue Minter

MONTPELIER — Sue Minter, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has laid out a plan for Vermont’s energy future that she said will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, support job growth in the clean energy sector and cut energy costs for Vermonters. Minter’s plan focuses on two main goals — reducing peak electric demand by 10 percent over the next five years and cutting back on carbon dioxide pollution in the transportation sector by expanding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that covers fossil fuel-burning power plants to include transportation fuels. Expanding RGGI, however, would require the consent of several other Northeast states that participate. “I am the candidate who is concerned about climate change, and who wants to make more progress on energy efficiency and local renewable energy,” Minter said in a statement. “It is unbelievable to me that we have candidates running for governor in the year 2016 who want to ban renewable energy when we now have over 17,000 Vermonters proudly working in the clean-energy sector.”

Minter said her administration would reduce peak electric demand, which is more costly and often generated through means that produce more carbon, through energy efficiency, solar power and new energy storage technologies. Continue Reading →

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Galbraith outlines free tuition plan at Vermont State Colleges

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith outlines his plan for free tuition at the Vermont State Colleges for Vermont students. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith released a plan Tuesday to cover the cost of a college education for Vermont students at state colleges by eliminating nearly $50 million in tax breaks and loopholes. Galbraith, a former diplomat and state senator from Windham County, revealed his plan outside of the Community College of Vermont Tuesday afternoon, declaring that “higher education should be a right, not a burden for young Vermonters.”

He said the plan would provide four years of free tuition at all of the Vermont State Colleges for all graduates of Vermont high schools who meet the academic requirements for admission. It would also provide free or reduced tuition at the University of Vermont for high school graduates who meet the income criteria to be eligible for Pell Grants. The total cost of providing free higher education is estimated to be $29 million, Galbraith said. The program would be paid for by eliminating tax breaks and raising the minimum wage, a key plank in Galbraith’s economic agenda. Continue Reading →

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Minter’s first TV ad focuses on Irene recovery

Sue Minter

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter has launched her first TV ad, highlighting her role in Vermont’s recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Minter’s ad, titled “Count On,” points out her role as deputy secretary of the Agency of Transportation and later as the Irene Recovery Officer, appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin. “Vermont’s worst disaster in a century. Destruction for miles. As Irene Recovery Office, Sue Minter helped lead the rebuilding with hundreds of miles or road repaired and thousands of homes restored,” a narrator says. Continue Reading →

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Dunne discloses raising $717,855 in voluntary filing

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne discusses his campaign contributions at a news conference Wednesday. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne has raised $717,855 for his campaign, including $150,387 since March 15, according to a voluntary financial disclosure he filed with the Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday. Dunne, a former Windsor County state senator, called on all candidates to voluntarily release information about campaign contributions and expenditures on June 15. But the four other main candidates — Democrats Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith and Republicans Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman — all declined to do so. State law requires candidates to next file that information on July 15, the only required filing before the Aug. 9 primary date. Continue Reading →

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Dunne launches first TV ad, focuses on corporate campaign contributions

Matt Dunne

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne has launched his first television ad of the campaign, seeking to link his candidacy with that of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermonter who ran a stronger-than-expected insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. “What Bernie Sanders started, we need to finish. This campaign is about making Bernie’s vision a reality right here in Vermont,” Dunne, a former Google executive and Windsor County state senator, says in the ad’s opening. The campaign said the 30-second ad is part of “a robust six-figure” buy that will air statewide. The ad focuses on a major theme of Sanders’ campaign — banning corporate contributions. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers craft replacement language for vetoed energy siting bill

searsburg_wind_power_facility_in_searsburg_vt_ap_photo_tim_roske

MONTPELIER — Key lawmakers have drafted replacement language for an energy siting bill vetoed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday they hope will be passed during a legislative veto session on Thursday to fix issues he identified in his veto message. Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking a fourth two-year term, vetoed S.230 Monday over concerns that language approved on the final day of the legislative session would have unintended consequences. He said the emergency rule-making process called for in the bill for new wind turbine sound standards unintentionally invokes a provision in statute that would make Vermont the first state in the country to declare a public health emergency around wind energy “without peer-reviewed science backing that assertion up.”

Additionally, Shumlin said new temporary sound standards for wind turbines “unintentionally relies on a standard used in a small 150 kilowatt project as the standard for all wind” projects, which “could have the clearly unintended effect of pushing wind projects closer to homes where the background noise is higher.” Another provision in the bill requires notice of certificates of public good for energy projects on parcels of land to be filed with land records. He said that “could create problems for residential solar customers when they go to sell their home.”

The fourth concern deals with money. Under the bill, regional planning commissions are supposed to help municipalities develop local energy plans that conform to the state’s energy goals. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin vetoes energy siting bill

Wind_power_plants_in_Xinjiang,_China

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has vetoed a controversial energy siting bill, triggering a special legislative veto session on Thursday where lawmakers can try to override his rejection or look to fix the portions he finds unacceptable and send it back. The legislation, S.230, was passed by lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session last month after last-minute wrangling by House and Senate negotiators and the Shumlin administration. It seeks to provide local communities with more say over the siting of renewable energy projects if they craft their own energy plans that are approved by the Department of Public Service. It also seeks to create sound restrictions for wind generation projects. The governor, a Democrat, said the bill would hurt the state’s renewable energy progress, which he said has created more than 17,000 jobs in Vermont. Continue Reading →

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VSEA’s legislative committee backs Galbraith, Zuckerman

Peter Galbraith announces his candidacy for governor Tuesday in the Cedar Creek Room of the State House in Montpelier. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith and Sen. David Zuckerman, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, have the early advantage in netting endorsements from the Vermont State Employees Association after the union’s legislative committee voted to recommend them to the Board of Trustees and the full membership. The union’s 23-member legislative committee voted Tuesday to recommend Galbraith, a former diplomat and state senator from Windham County, for governor in the Democratic primary over Matt Dunne and Sue Minter. Sen. David Zuckerman, who represents Chittenden County as a Progressive and Democrat, was selected by the panel for lieutenant governor over House Speaker Shap Smith and Burlington Rep. Kesha ram. The committee’s recommendation is the first step in the union’s new endorsement process. The VSEA’s full membership of about 5,500 state workers now has until June 6 to vote in a non-binding online straw poll, which will help the union’s Board of Trustees select candidates to be endorsed by the group, according to VSEA Executive Director Steve Howard. Continue Reading →

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Contraceptives bill signed into law

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation into law Monday that will eliminate co-pays and deductibles for contraceptives and ensure that vasectomies for men are now included in insurance coverage. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation into law Monday that will eliminate co-pays and deductibles for contraceptives and ensure that vasectomies for men are now included in insurance coverage. Shumlin, a third-term Democrat who is not seeking re-election, signed H.620, on the steps of the State House Monday with lawmakers and representatives of Planned Parenthood looking on. He said the legislation moves Vermont in the right direction while some parts of the country are heading backward. “When we look around us here in 2016, here in America, and we look at the issue of reproductive rights and women’s health, it’s pretty darn shocking to this governor of Vermont when I see what’s going on with the rest of the country,” the governor said. “We have the presumptive [presidential] nominee of the Republican Party who has literally suggested that women should be punished should they seek an abortion. Continue Reading →

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House defeats efforts to legalize, further decriminalize pot

Law enforcement officers listen to debate in the House about marijuana legalization. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House on Tuesday soundly rejected a Senate proposal to legalize marijuana and create a regulated retail market for the drug, and even fell short of decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of two marijuana plants. The House did manage to salvage a commission that will study the legalization of marijuana and report its findings back to the Legislature, likely setting up another push at legalization next year after the November election. The House first voted 121 to 28 Tuesday against the Senate’s proposal, which was strongly backed by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. The Senate passed the bill on a 17 to 12 vote. Rep. Chris Pearson, a Progressive from Burlington, was among the slim minority of House members who supported the Senate’s language. Continue Reading →

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