News

Newsworthy for the front page.

Recent Posts

Trump signs disaster declaration

MONTPELIER — President Donald Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for Vermont following significant flooding earlier this year, qualifying the state for federal aid in recovery efforts, Gov. Phil Scott said Thursday. The public assistance disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency will allow communities and public utilities in affected areas to receive 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government for storm response and recovery efforts, including debris removal and repairs to public infrastructure. The disaster declaration covers Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Orange, Rutland, Washington and Windsor Counties. Significant flooding occurred following a period of heavy rain between June 29 and July 1. Scott asked FEMA to assess damage caused by the flooding on July 6. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Lawmakers approve budget rescission plans

MONTPELIER — The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee has unanimously backed a plan presented by the Scott administration to reduce General Fund spending in the 2018 fiscal year budget by $12.6 million. The panel of House and Senate members met Thursday to review the plan, which was necessitated by a revenue downgrade issued last month. Economists for Gov. Phil Scott and the Legislature downgraded expected state revenues for the current fiscal year by $28.8 million, including $16.3 million in pending corporate tax refunds carried over from the 2017 fiscal year. The state’s Emergency Board last month approved a plan to pay for the refunds. The state’s Transportation Fund was also downgraded by $3.5 million. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Scott administration to present budget rescission plan Thursday

MONTPELIER — The Scott administration will present its plan Thursday to cut $12.6 million from the state’s General Fund and $3.5 million from the Transportation Fund to balance the state budget after a revenue downgrade was issued last month. Administration officials will meet with the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee Thursday. The plan relies primarily on the expected generation of new revenue, some budget cuts and some reversions, or reallocating previously unspent funds. The administration’s budget rescission plan comes after economists for the administration and Legislature issued a revenue downgrade in July. The General Fund was downgraded by $28.8 million, including $16.3 million that is expected to be paid out in the form of corporate income tax refunds during the 2018 fiscal year. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Details scarce on Ivanka Trump’s Vermont vacation

MONTPELIER — State officials say they are unable to provide details of any security operations in place after the New York Times reported Tuesday that First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are vacationing in Vermont. The visit to Vermont by the Washington, D.C., power couple remains shrouded in mystery, with their location unknown to the public. Both Ivanka Trump and Kushner play prominent, senior roles in the administration of Republican President Donald Trump. Ivanka Trump is a special assistant to the president. Kushner, meanwhile, is the director of White House Innovations and has several high-profile tasks, including bringing peace to the Middle East. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Sanders prepares legislation and strategy for single-payer push

MONTPELIER — With a re-election bid looming in 2018 and a potential second presidential run further on the horizon in 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders is focusing his time, attention and campaign dollars on drumming up support for a complete overhaul of the nation’s health care system. The 75-year-old independent senator is almost assured re-election to the Senate if and when he officially declares his candidacy. Whether he will launch a second bid for the White House is less clear. While the country attempts to catch its breath after the furious but failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Sanders is prepping a new national campaign to build support for a Medicare-for-all single payer health care system. It’s the moment Sanders has been waiting for to achieve a policy goal he has coveted for decades. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

GMCB cuts Blue Cross rate request by one-third

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board has rejected Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s 12.7 percent requested rate increase, imposing a smaller increase of 9.2 percent. The board, the state’s health care regulatory body that oversees insurance rates and hospital budgets, announced the rate approval Thursday. BCBSVT requested the 12.7 percent increase, citing rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, increased utilization of medical services, an aging population and mandated changes to federal law as, the reasons behind the rate hike. After an analysis of the review, however, the board unanimously approved a lower rate increase for 2018 plans sold by BCBSVT on the state’s health insurance exchange. “As we issue our decision today, we are mindful of the uncertainties surrounding provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the difficulties that many Vermonters —particularly those who do not qualify for premium assistance or cost-sharing reductions — face as health insurance premiums continue to rise faster than other economic indicators,” the board wrote in its order. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

GMCB trims MVP rate hike request

MONTPELIER — The Green Mountain Care Board has approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for MVP Health Care plans sold on the Vermont Health Connect exchange in 2018. The Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s regulatory body that approves insurance rates and hospital budgets, announced the approved rate increase Wednesday. It is about half of the 6.7 percent rate increase originally sought by MVP, which insures about 10,000 Vermonters. “Today’s decision reflects our dual interests to approve rates as lean as possible, while ensuring that carriers remain solvent and therefore willing to continue to participate in our health insurance marketplace,” the board wrote in its order granting the increase. MVP and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the state’s largest insurer, filed requested rate increases with the board in mid-May. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Scott forms panel on chemical oversight

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott signed an executive order Tuesday to create the Vermont Interagency Committee on Chemical Management, which will review chemical regulations and policies in Vermont. The committee created by executive order will look to ensure compliance with laws regulating chemical use in the state and try to reduce risks posed to Vermonters from the use or storage of unsafe chemicals. The committee “will incorporate the expertise of state agencies and outside experts who will participate in the citizen advisory panel,” according to Scott’s office. “The discovery of PFOA contamination of the drinking water in Bennington County was a wake-up call for Vermont,” Scott said in a statement. “I am directing this committee to find solutions that will ensure proactive coordination among the agencies charged with chemical oversight to protect Vermonters from unsafe chemicals, increase public access to information about chemicals in our communities, and help Vermont businesses comply with existing law.”

The committee will be chaired by Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore or her designee. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Police promise more visibility following spate of fatal crashes

WATERBURY — Top law enforcement officials are promising more visibility on Vermont roads after a spate of fatal crashes in recent days that have left eight people dead. Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson joined state, county and local law enforcement officials at a news conference Tuesday to highlight their efforts to improve highway safety throughout the state. The news conference followed a several-day period that saw three fatal crashes, including one in Bridport Monday that resulted in four fatalities. “It’s been a tragic few days on Vermont’s roadways,” Anderson said. Gov. Phil Scott also noted the uptick in fatalities in a statement. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Scott: Senate health care vote is ‘disappointing’

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday he is disappointed the U.S. Senate has voted to begin debating a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a clearly defined path forward. Scott, in a telephone interview from Aspen, Co., where he is attending the Republican Governors Association quarterly meeting, said health care has dominated the two-day summit. “Suffice it to say, there are lot of differing opinions on what’s happening and what’s best for our individual states,” the governor said. Some states, like Vermont, have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and stand to lose significant federal funding under the plans pushed by Republicans in Congress. As a result, Scott said there is no consensus among the 33 GOP governors on whether Congress should be moving forward with efforts to repeal the ACA. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,