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Release: Leahy reintroduces online privacy bill

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday was joined by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators to introduce legislation to modernize the nation’s electronic privacy laws and bring protections against warrantless searches into harmony with the technological realities of the 21stcentury. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015 (ECPA) was introduced by Leahy, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in the House.  The bill requires the government to have a search warrant requirement to obtain the content of Americans’ emails and other electronic communications, when those communications are stored with a third-party service provider. Leahy, who authored the original 1986 ECPA law, said the bill introduced Wednesday would bring needed privacy protections to Vermonters in the digital age. Leahy said:  “These reforms would protect Americans’ digital privacy – in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud.  It builds consumer trust, and it provides law enforcement agencies with the proper tools they need to ensure public safety.  This is a bipartisan issue, and now is the time to act swiftly to bring Americans’ privacy rights and protections into the digital age.”
Lee, who also joined with Leahy last Congress on legislation to update ECPA, said:  “In the nearly three decades since ECPA became law, technology has advanced rapidly and beyond the imagination of anyone living in 1986. Continue Reading →

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Release: Disaster declaration approved

February 3, 2015
Vermont Federal Disaster Declaration Approved

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced that President Barack Obama has signed a major disaster declaration for Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Windsor, and Washington counties. Those 10 counties suffered nearly $4-million in damages during a severe storm in December that caused widespread power outages. The Public Assistance disaster declaration allows communities and public utilities in those counties to receive 75% reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include debris removal and repairs to the power grid, public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that was damaged during the storm. “I want to thank the President for approving this assistance for Vermont,” Gov. Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

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Release: US Forest Service releases new snowmobiling rule

The U.S. Forest Service has released the final policy rule for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle (OSV) use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service managers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use on National Forest System lands. In the new rule, an over-snow vehicle is defined as “a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow”. “The Forest Service always seeks to provide a wide range of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Continue Reading →

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Release: Vermont second in financial security, report states

 Vermont leads most states in financial security of residents, according to a report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The report also finds that Vermont is in the top 10 of all states for enacting policies designed to help low- and middle-income families attain financial security through asset building. However, the report does find that the Vermont could improve its residents’ financial well-being when it comes to Housing & Homeownership.  CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard provides rankings for the 50 states and District of Columbia on both the ability of residents to achieve financial security and policies designed to help them get there. Continue Reading →

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Release: Sanders’ solar bill blocked by GOP

Senate Republicans today shot down a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to help install up to 10 million solar power systems for homes and businesses in the coming decade. Rebates for solar systems would have been authorized by a Sanders amendment to a Keystone XL oil pipeline bill now before the Senate. “The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders said. His amendment called for a 15 percent rebate to homeowners and businesses that install solar power. The new solar power generated would have been enough to replace one-fifth of the nation’s dirty, coal-fired power plants. Continue Reading →

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Release: Leahy questions DEA policy

 In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) questioned the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) use of a national database to track the movement of vehicles around the United States.  News reports this week revealed that the DEA has expanded its license plate reader (LPR) surveillance program from the Southwest Border to include states across the country. The database now includes hundreds of millions of records about motorists, and it reportedly allows the DEA to track motorists in real-time.  This is the third oversight letter the Senators have sent in recent weeks, raising privacy concerns about the use of emerging law enforcement technologies. Last week, they pressed the administration on the reported use of radar technology that may enable law enforcement agencies to track the movements of private citizens inside their homes. Continue Reading →

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Release: Stuart named deputy banking commissioner

Cynthia Stuart has been named deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation’s Banking Division, Commissioner Susan L. Donegan announced today. Stuart has more than 18 years of experience in both the retail and community aspects of banking and brings to the job a wealth of knowledge of current operations and senior management. She has worked at several federal community banks in New Hampshire and Vermont, including Connecticut River Bank NA in Littleton, NH, where she was senior vice president of Retail Banking and Deposit Operations and most recently Ledyard National Bank in Hanover, NH, where she was senior vice president and senior retail banking officer. Donegan said she is pleased to welcome Stuart to the department and is delighted to have someone of her high caliber join the staff. “Cynthia has an excellent understanding of community-based banking and exceptional knowledge of both banks and credit unions in Vermont and New Hampshire, she said, “and she will bring extensive experience to the department. Continue Reading →

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Release: Unsnarling from the snowstorm

Maintenance forces of the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) are beginning to wind down operations as the effects of the Nor’easter diminish from south to north. As anticipated, most of the snow fell in southern and central Vermont. Crews came on as the snow worked its way north and all 250 front line vehicles were deployed at various times throughout the day. No major incidents were reported beyond brief delays related to a stranded tractor trailer on VT 9 in Searsburg. VTrans crews will continue to work through the evening commute with night patrols maintaining roads overnight before a full deployment for the morning commute. Continue Reading →

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Release: Public Service Department issues energy comparison

The Vermont Public Service Department has released its benchmarking comparison of electric energy efficiency program performance in Vermont with performance of programs in eight other states. The evaluation shows that Vermont’s electric energy efficiency programs save more energy than comparable programs, with costs that are very similar to their peers.  “I am gratified but not surprised that Vermont’s Energy Efficiency Utilities show greater benefits for dollars spent than systems in other states” said Chris Recchia, Commissioner of Vermont Public Service Department. “Vermont is a national leader in energy efficiency and this report highlights the success of our programs” Recchia added.  The Department’s benchmarking analysis compares reported program savings and costs for program years 2011 and 2012. Continue Reading →

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Release: Amtrak to resume partial service

Amtrak will resume operation of Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains on a modified schedule with reduced frequencies between New York and Boston on Wednesday, Jan. 28.   A full schedule of trains will operate between New York and Washington. To be notified of service disruptions on the Northeast Corridor (including Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other corridor services), follow @AmtrakNEC on Twitter. Continue Reading →

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