State Senate

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Doyle honored by former colleagues

Bill Doyle, a former senator from Washington County, smiles as his former colleagues honored him Tuesday for his 48 years of service. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — Former Sen. Bill Doyle was honored on the Senate floor Tuesday by some of his closest colleagues from his 48-year tenure in the body. Doyle, 90, ran for re-election in November for what would have been his 25th term in the Senate. He came in a close fourth-place, however, in the three-seat Washington County district, bringing to a close his illustrious political career that began when he first won in the 1968 election. On Tuesday, Doyle, a Republican, was lauded by a bipartisan group of colleagues as much for his Senate career as he was for his tenure as a professor at Lyndon State College. Two of Doyle’s former students were in the Senate chamber Tuesday as members — and many more have served in the General Assembly during his decades as a professor of government. Continue Reading →

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Ethics Committee is on the agenda in the State House

Sen. Anthony Pollina

MONTPELIER — Washington County Sen. Anthony Pollina says he is optimistic the Legislature will pass an ethics bill and create a State Ethics Commission to review and act on ethics complaints for those involved in state government. Lawmakers have hemmed and hawed for years on passing a tough ethics bill that would provide strong oversight over themselves and the executive branch of government. The Senate passed a measure last year very late in the legislative session that the House did not take up. Pollina, a Progressive, plans to introduce a bill that is nearly identical to last year’s and push for early action so both chambers have time to consider it. “I do think this will be the year that we’ll be able to make this happen. Continue Reading →

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Johnson, Ashe lead lawmakers forward

Rep. Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, was elected speaker of the Vermont House on Wednesday, Jan. 4. She is the 3rd woman to serve as speaker in Vermont history. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers returned to the State House Wednesday for the 73rd biennial session, electing new leaders and embarking on a new era of state government. The 180 members of the General Assembly —150 in the House and 30 in the Senate — swore their oaths of office before electing their own leadership. Rep. Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, was elected by the House on a 100 to 50 vote to serve as speaker. Johnson, who defeated Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex, became just the third woman to serve as speaker in Vermont history. In the Senate, Chittenden County Sen. Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, was unanimously elected president pro tem. Continue Reading →

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With concession, Doyle’s storied Senate career to end

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MONTPELIER — Longtime Washington County Sen. Bill Doyle withdrew his request for a recount on Wednesday, effectively ending his 48-year tenure in the Vermont State House. Doyle, a Republican who sought re-election earlier this month, finished behind Democrat Francis Brooks and the two other incumbent senators from Washington County. Brooks edged him out by just 191 votes. Doyle, 90, initially moved for a recount following the election, but on Wednesday he opted to forego that effort and concede defeat after consulting “advisors” who told him a recount was unlikely to close the gap. “In order to prevail in a recount, I would need 96 votes to change,” Doyle said in his statement. Continue Reading →

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Ashe locks down pro tem support

Sen. Tim Ashe

MONTPELIER — Chittenden County Sen. Tim Ashe is poised to become the next president pro tem of the Senate after the Democratic caucus unanimously nominated him for the post Monday. Ashe, 39, who serves as both a Progressive and Democratic in the Senate, will replace Democratic Windsor County Sen. John Campbell in the critical leadership post. Campbell, who now works as the executive director of the Department of State’s Attorneys & Sheriffs, did not seek re-election. “I’m, obviously, totally humbled to get the caucus support for the position. Many people outside the building don’t understand the role of the pro tem is really to be the shepherd of the entire Senate,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Doyle loses re-election bid to Brooks, knocked out after serving since 1969

Francis Brooks (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Francis Brooks, with 15.52 percent of the vote, took one of Washington County’s three senate seats away from longtime Republican Sen. Bill Doyle Tuesday. Bill Doyle, who has served in the state Senate without interruption since 1969, narrowly fell into fourth place in the district with 15.3 percent of the vote according to the Secretary of State’s Office, with all districts reporting. With fellow incumbents Ann Cummings, D-Montpelier, and Anthony Pollina, D-Middlesex, pacing the six-candidate field, the race was for third place as midnight approached and Doyle’s bid for a 25th consecutive two-year term was on life support. Cummings was comfortably ahead with 16,742, and Pollina was a safe second with 14,950 votes, but Brooks was pushing for the first partisan sweep in the county’s Senate race in more than three decades and perhaps the first Democratic sweep ever. With Woodbury left to report its results Tuesday night, Brooks was in third place with 13,479 votes and Doyle was a hair behind with 13,343 votes. Continue Reading →

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VSEA prevails with the Vermont Labor Relations Board

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MONTPELIER — The Vermont Labor Relations Board ruled in a split decision Tuesday in favor of the Vermont State Employees Association in its contract dispute with the Shumlin administration. Both parties agreed to seek a two-year labor contract to succeed the current deal that is set to expire on June 30. The two sides had difficulty agreeing to terms, however, and reached in impasse. A deal was still elusive after mediation efforts, resulting in the appointment of a mutually agreed upon fact finder who held two hearings in January. Both sides submitted their last best offers to the Vermont Labor Relations Board last month and it was tasked with choosing between them. Continue Reading →

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Senate president pro-tem stepping down

Senate Pro Tem John Campbell

MONTPELIER — No matter what happens during the November elections, there will be new leadership at the State House. Senate President Pro-Tem John Campbell announced Monday he will join House Speaker Shap Smith and Gov. Peter Shumlin in not seeking re-election, choosing instead to head the state association that represents sheriffs and prosecutors. Upon completion of the 2016 legislative session in early May, Campbell will take the position of executive director of the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs, a job that reflects his work, past and present. “It’s not often that jobs open up in a field in which you have passion for,” Campbell said. “Law enforcement and being a prosecutor are things that are very important to me.”

The eight-term Democrat is a deputy state’s attorney in Windsor County, which he has represented since 2001. Continue Reading →

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Snelling resigns from Senate to head Natural Resources Board

DSnelling

MONTPELIER — Chittenden County Republican Sen. Diane Snelling is resigning from the body to become chairwoman of the Natural Resources Board, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Tuesday morning. Snelling, who has served in the Senate since being appointed in 2002 to replace a seat vacated by her mother, will replace Jon Groveman on the board. “I am proud to appoint Senator Snelling to this position,” Shumlin said. “Her deep policy knowledge of Act 250 as well as her well-deserved reputation for being thoughtful and non-partisan make her an ideal candidate for this position.”

Snelling’s work in the Senate has involved work on clean water initiatives and shore land protection. She has served on the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Continue Reading →

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Senate approves marijuana legalization

MONTPELIER — Senators made it easier for the little guy to break into the cultivation business when they gave their final approval to marijuana legalization. By a vote of 17 to 12 Thursday afternoon, the Senate approved what has been arguably been the most debated bill of this legislative session, and in doing so, sends it on to House for further discussion. “It’s a relief for me to have it out of the Senate,” said Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and someone who became an unlikely advocate for legalization. Sears thanked his fellow lawmakers, including colleagues such as Sens. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, and Diane Snelling, R-Chittenden, both of whom voted for the bill while in committee despite their opposition, which allowed the bill to come to the Senate floor for debate. Continue Reading →

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