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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 →

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Leahy, Sanders vote no, but Senate moves to debate ACA repeal

MONTPELIER — Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders are lashing out after the Senate voted Tuesday to begin debating a health care plan that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance. Both Leahy, a Democrat, and Sanders, an independent, voted Tuesday afternoon against a motion to proceed to debate on a House-passed health care bill. The vote was held Tuesday before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., revealed the legislative language that senators will be debating, however. The process used by the Republican majority and the secretive nature of the Senate GOP’s plan have drawn the ire of Vermont’s two senators. Continue Reading →

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Election Commission data request on hold pending lawsuit

MONTPELIER — Secretary of State Jim Condos said a request for voter information from President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is on hold while the commission deals with a federal lawsuit. Condos and other election officials around the country received an email Monday from Andrew Kossack, the designated federal officer for the commission, asking them to hold off on sending the information requested by the commission. The hold, according to the email, is due to suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that seeks a temporary restraining order. “Until the Judge rules on the TRO, we request that you hold on submitting any data. We will follow up with you with further instructions once the Judge issues her ruling,” Kossack wrote in the email, which Condos provided to the Vermont Press Bureau. Continue Reading →

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AG Donovan reviewing request for voter information

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says his office is reviewing a request from President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to determine if Secretary of State Jim Condos is required to provide information sought by the commission. The president launched the commission earlier this year after losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Trump claimed that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the election, although that unsubstantiated claim has been widely panned by experts. Last week the commission requested personal voter information from all 50 states, including birthdates, drivers license numbers, parts of Social Security numbers and information about criminal records and military service. Condos initially said he would provide limited information that is already public record. Continue Reading →

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Sanders to seek Medicare for all plan

MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders is preparing to introduce legislation that would create a Medicare for all health system in the U.S. as Republicans in Congress continue efforts to dismantle the federal Affordable Care Act. Sanders, an independent and a former candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has been a longtime advocate for a single-payer health care system. He has been a staunch opponent of the health care legislation being crafted by Republican senators that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says could cause 22 million Americans to lose health coverage over the next decade. The GOP health plan seeks to eliminate taxes on the wealthy and medical companies that help pay for the health insurance of lowincome Americans. It would also drastically reduce spending on Medicaid, a state-federal program that provides health coverage to low-income and disabled Americans. Continue Reading →

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Scott picks Rep. Adam Greshin as Finance commissioner

MONTPELIER — Rep. Adam Greshin, an independent from Warren, has been appointed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott as commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management. The 56-year-old Greshin was first elected to the Vermont House in 2009 where he has represented the towns of Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston, Moretown and Duxbury. He replaces Andrew Pallito, who departs Friday to become the director of health system finances for the Green Mountain Care Board, the state’s health care regulatory body. “Adam is a valuable addition to our administration and with his business and legislative experience, brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the needs of Vermonters, as well as the critical need for fiscal responsibility, to the position,” Scott said in a statement. “His experience on House Education and Health committees also give him important insight into the state’s largest expenditures as we look to make the best use of taxpayer dollars in those areas and beyond.”

The Department of Finance and management, and the commissioner, help the governor craft the state budget and track state financial information. Continue Reading →

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Scott signs 2018 budget

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott signed the 2018 fiscal year state budget into law Wednesday, just days ahead of the new fiscal year that starts Saturday. Scott, a first-term Republican, was surrounded by members of his administration, Democratic and Republican lawmakers and advocates for various state-supported programs as he touted the budget. Lawmakers passed the budget last week in a special veto session after Scott vetoed their initial effort last month. Scott said the 2018 spending plan “represents real progress and a shift in thinking.”

“This budget, for the first time in recent memory, does not raise taxes or fees. That includes property tax rates. Continue Reading →

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Milton’s Hubert to resign House seat

MONTPELIER — Republican Rep. Ron Hubert of Milton plans to resign from the Vermont House on July 1. Hubert, who was first elected to the House in 2008, said he has emailed a resignation letter to legislative officials and plans to mail a copy of the letter this week. The resignation will take effect on July 1. “It’s time for me — my business and my family needs. It’s time,” Hubert told the Vermont Press Bureau Monday. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers pushing forward on budget deal

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott stood side-by-side with legislative leaders Wednesday morning to announce a deal on how to save property tax dollars on teacher health care plans, an issue that held up the end of the legislative session last month and led to vetoes of the state budget and property tax yield bill. Wednesday was the first of a scheduled two-day veto session after Scott, a Republican, vetoed the state budget and a the yield bill, which sets property tax rates, because lawmakers did not include his demand to save up to $26 million on the cost of teachers health care plans by, in part, creating a statewide negotiation for health benefits. The day began with Scott, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D-Chittenden, holding a State House news conference to tout the accord. Scott said the deal “will help the state achieve significant savings in the Education Fund” and “will set property tax rates at or below fiscal year 2017 levels.”

“The resolution reached is indeed a compromise, but it’s a good one that saves taxpayers millions. We found areas of common ground and we each gave on areas where there was none,” Scott said. Continue Reading →

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Governor, lawmakers strike budget deal on eve of veto session

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders struck a deal Tuesday to end a month-long impasse on the state budget and property tax bills as rank-and-file lawmakers prepared to return to the State House for a veto session Wednesday. The breakthrough on the eve of the veto session should pave the way for a relatively smooth process Wednesday. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said a new budget was being drafted and would likely be distributed to all rank-and-file members of the Legislature Tuesday night. “I feel like we have a strong compromise that … everybody will be able to say yes to. I think, conceptually, we’re agreed to stuff, which is a huge step forward from yesterday,” she told reporters Tuesday afternoon. Continue Reading →

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