Recent Posts

Speaker Smith rallies his troops

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers, one month into the legislative session, will soon be casting tough votes on bills in committee, and then on the House and Senate floors. That fact is not lost on House Speaker Shap Smith, who looked to rally his troops Tuesday at the weekly Democratic caucus. A state budget with a $112 million gap that must be closed means cuts will be made to programs that constituents likely depend on. And the public is demanding property tax relief, but voters don’t want to see changes to their local school districts. Smith, now in his fourth term as speaker, knows just how a legislative session plays out. Continue Reading →

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Capitol Beat podcast for Jan. 5, 2015


Capitol Beat Podcast – Episode 1
Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal Goswami and VPB reporter Josh O’Gorman preview the upcoming legislative session from the gubernatorial election to sleeper issues. A new episode will be posted every Monday afternoon, as well as a separate podcast featuring Gov. Peter Shumlin every Friday afternoon.  

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Shumlin, Milne and Sorrell secure nominations

MONTPELIER — Tuesday’s primary was marked by low voter turnout and slow, tedious counting by election officials as they sorted through many ballots with write in votes. Few Vermonters exercised their right to vote in the state’s primary Tuesday in which candidates looked to secure their party’s nominations for the general election in November. Clerks around the state reported a paltry showing from voters. Most town and city clerks were expected to be counting and tallying results late into the night, well past deadline, thanks to aggressive write in campaigns waged by Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano and Dean Corren, a Progressive running for lieutenant governor. On the GOP ballot, gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne was declared the winner by the Associated Press just after 8 p.m. He defeated Republicans Emily Peyton and Steve Berry, and fended off the write in challenge by Feliciano. Continue Reading →

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Brock bows out

MONTPELIER — Republican Randy Brock, the Vermont GOP’s nominee for governor in 2012, announced in an email Sunday that he will not challenge Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin again this year. Brock, a former state auditor and state senator, had been publicly mulling a run. His decision comes after Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann and former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman already bowed out this year. Scott Milne, president of Milne Travel, is the only other known Republican considering a run. Milne has said he wants a primary, however. Continue Reading →

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Lisman declines gov bid

MONTPELIER — Campaign for Vermont founder and former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman announced Wednesday he will not launch a bid to unseat Gov. Peter Shumlin. Lisman, the former chairman of the JP Morgan Chase Global Equity Division, said he was considering a campaign for governor at the urging of Vermonters. But in a statement issued Wednesday Lisman said he will instead focus on advocacy efforts. “I love Vermont and believe that she faces serious challenges as seldom before in her history,” Lisman said in his statement. “At this time, however, I believe I can best contribute to improving Vermont’s future by publicly and vigorously advocating for a focused, core set of moderate, nonpartisan and common sense government reforms. Indeed, this coalition building effort is the best approach to policy change and consistent with my focus since 2011.”

Wednesday’s announcement follows on the heals of one made by Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, who just last week said she would not seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination and challenge Shumlin, a two-term Democrat. Continue Reading →

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Technicality stalls minimum wage debate

MONTPELIER — A misprint in the House calendar discovered late Thursday night doomed consideration of a minimum wage bill until Saturday, just as Democratic leaders ramped up efforts to corral an unruly caucus. House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, made a point of order around 10:30 p.m., hours after debate had begun. But House Speaker Shap Smith said minority Republicans were correct, and ruled that action must be postponed and placed back on the calendar, making Saturday the next day the bill will see action. Democratic leaders were looking to pass a scaled back minimum wage bill from the more ambitious plan they previously passed. The new plan, hashed out following a day-long back-and-forth between the House, Senate and governor’s office, is much closer to one favored by Gov. Peter Shumlin. Continue Reading →

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Walz tapped for House seat

MONTPELIER – Tommy Walz, a former educator from Barre City, has been tapped by Gov. Peter Shumlin to replace former Rep. Tess Taylor. Walz was picked from a list of three candidates submitted to Gov. Shumlin by the Barre City Democratic Committee. “I am pleased to appoint Tommy Walz to fill this opening,” Shumlin said in a statement. “His long-term commitment and service to the Barre community will make him an excellent voice for his constituents in the Vermont House of Representatives.”

Walz first moved to Barre in 1967 to teach English and German at Spaulding High School. He and his wife Leslie moved several times, including a stint living and working in Germany. Continue Reading →

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Democratic PAC settles with state

MONTPELIER — A Democratic PAC must may a $30,000 penalty for violating the state’s campaign finance law during the 2010 election. Green Mountain Future, a political action committee created by the Democratic Governors Association has settled with the state for the $30,000 penalty, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced Wednesday. The settlement, which has been approved by the Vermont Superior Court, requires GMF to pay the state a civil penalty of $20,000 for failing to include its address on its website or in television ads that ran during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. GMF must also pay a $10,000 penalty the court had previously imposed for not registering as a PAC and filing campaign finance reports. “Voters are legally entitled to know who is seeking to influence them,” Sorrell said a statement. Continue Reading →

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