montpelier

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Hallsmith loses appeal in wrongful termination case

MONTPELIER — The city of Montpelier had just cause to fire former planning director Gwendolyn Hallsmith, according to a decision made Monday. Independent hearing officer Michael J. Marks issued a decision on the post-termination appeal of Hallsmith concerning the 2013 termination of her employment by the City of Montpelier, denying her appeal in which Hallmsith said she was unjustly fired. The hearing officer’s decision was rendered after two full days of hearings in November and consideration of detailed written submissions by the city and Hallsmith. The purpose of the hearings was for the city to prove there was just cause to fire her. Hallsmith said, in addition to being fired for no just causes, that she was fired in retaliation for speaking out about public banking. Continue Reading →

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Capitol Beat podcast for Jan. 5, 2015

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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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Racine out at AHS

MONTPELIER – Agency of Human Services Secretary Doug Racine is being replaced, the Shumlin administration announced Tuesday, as challenges within the agency mount. According to Shumlin administration officials, current Health Commissioner Harry Chen will replace Racine on an interim basis while a permanent replacement is sought. “I appreciate Doug’s hard work over three and a half years to help Vermont’s most vulnerable,” Shumlin said in a release. Shumlin touted the agency’s move to a data-driven, results-based planning strategy and a revamped mental health system under Racine’s tenure. But the agency has faced significant challenges, too. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers launch new PAC

MONTPELIER — A pair of moderate lawmakers — one a Democrat, the other a Republican — have launched a nonpartisan PAC aimed at electing candidates that seek “fiscal responsibility” and “balanced, common-sense public policies.”

Reps. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, and Paul Ralston, D-Middlebury, who is not seeking reelection, announced the new political action committee, Vision to Action Vermont, on Monday. The duo, who have worked together on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee for the past four years, say they want to “encourage economic prosperity, greater opportunities for Vermont families and businesses, and individual liberties and responsibility.”

“I am very excited to launch this new endeavor,” Scheuermann, who flirted with a run for governor earlier this year, said in a press release. “For many years, I have advocated strongly for a long-term, comprehensive strategy for economic growth in Vermont, and this organization will help bring that focus to the forefront.”

Ralston said November’s election is key, with lawmakers set to tackle health care, property taxes and “taxes in general” during the next legislative biennium that will have an impact on the state’s small businesses and families. “We must be sure that those in elected positions address those issues thoughtfully and independently, and with an eye toward the benefits and consequences to our economy,” he said in the release. Continue Reading →

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Deadline for AHS reorganization extended

MONTPELIER — Governor Peter Shumlin’s own Pathways from Poverty Council is asking him to allow for public participation before the Agency of Human Services issues its recommendations on how to address systems, policies and procedures within the agency. As a result, Shumlin’s office says it is planning to extend an Aug. 1 deadline for AHS Secretary Doug Racine to submit a plan to the governor’s office to reorganize the agency. That deadline will now be Oct. 1. Continue Reading →

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Another exchange deadline to be missed

MONTPELIER — Change of circumstance functionality expected to go live this weekend on Vermont Health Connect will not be deployed as testing continues, according to Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson. The state’s vendor, CGI, was supposed to have the change of circumstance function live on the health insurance exchange website by May 21 based on an amendment to the original contract. But the state reached an agreement on a revised work plan to extend the deadline to June 8. Now there is a new delay. “We’re making very good progress on the development of the functionality and we’re close with automated change of circumstance functionality, but have made the decision that it’s not ready to go this weekend into the live environment,” Larson said Friday. 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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Another exchange deadline missed, but state extends timeframe

MONTPELIER — A function missing from Vermont’s online health insurance marketplace will not be added by today’s deadline, but state officials say they are giving the contractor additional time to complete the project before they look to impose penalties. Under an amended contract signed in early April, tech giant CGI was required to deliver “change of circumstance” functionality by today. The upgrade would allow thousands of Vermonters to edit their personal information online if mistakes are made during registration, or if they experience a life-changing event such as marriage. But progress remains slow, and the function remains in testing, according to Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. “We will not have the change of circumstances functionality tomorrow,” Larson said Tuesday. 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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State, CGI sign amended contract with new timeline and penalties

MONTPELIER — State officials and the contractor building Vermont Health Connect have signed off on a new agreement that sets a new schedule for launching missing functions and includes additional financial penalties for missed deadlines. The amended contract with tech giant CGI was signed Tuesday by Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson and Gregg Mossburg, a senior vice president with the firm. Under the amended contract, CGI must deliver “change of circumstance” functionality by May 21. By July 2, small business functionality must be operational. Failure to deliver by those dates will result in new financial penalties on top of the $5 million in “liquidated damages” the state has already claimed for CGI’s incomplete work. Continue Reading →

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