Peter Shumlin

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Scott to consider eight potential Supreme Court justices

Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley speaks during oral arguments Tuesday for a case that will determine whether outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin can replace him when his term expires April 1. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — The state’s Judicial Nominating Board sent eight names to Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday for his consideration as replacements for a retiring Vermont Supreme Court justice. Scott, a Republican, will select a replacement for Justice John Dooley after the Supreme Court rejected former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s attempt to name a new a justice. Shumlin, who left office on Jan. 5, had attempted to name Dooley’s successor, even though Dooley is not scheduled to leave the bench until April 1. Dooley announced last September that he was not seeking retention and would leave the bench when his term expires on April 1. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin to be a visiting Harvard fellow

Gov. Peter Shumlin

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Two former governors and a former U.S. senator have been named visiting fellows at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University. The school announced Thursday that former Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont; and former Democratic Gov. Ray Mabus of Mississippi will serve as visiting fellows this spring. Mabus is also a former Navy secretary. They will meet with students and faculty as part of the institute’s efforts to encourage interest in public life and increase interaction between the academic and political communities. Continue Reading →

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Pomp and ceremony at the State House

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman is sworn into office by Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson on Thursday at the State House. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — The transition to Vermont’s new state government for the next two years was completed Thursday as Republican Gov. Phil Scott was sworn into office along with the state’s additional statewide officers. The State House on Thursday was filled to capacity for the inaugural ceremonies. It was also swarming with police and uniformed military personnel — one of the few days each legislative session where security is so visible. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Progressive and Democrat, was sworn in Thursday morning in the Senate chamber. In his brief remarks he urged the Senators seated before him to consult with those closest to them as they conduct their business. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin bids the state farewell

Gov. Peter Shumlin smiles after delivering his farewell address on Wednesday, Jan. 4. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin delivered his farewell address to lawmakers Wednesday afternoon, framing his six-year tenure as a success after recovering from the Great Recession, facing down an opiate addiction epidemic, delivering health care to more Vermonters and greatly expanding renewable energy across the state. Shumlin, who did not seek re-election, will leave office Thursday afternoon after Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott is sworn in. He used his nearly 30-minute farewell address to remind lawmakers — and the public — of what he sees as his administration’s good deeds as he prepares to leave office less popular than when he arrived. Shumlin began his remarks by congratulating Scott, who defeated Shumlin’s preferred candidate, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter, in last November’s general election. “I’ve known Phil for a long, long time. Continue Reading →

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Supreme Court denies Shumlin’s appointment authority

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, speaks to his attorney, state Rep. Janssen Willhoit, during oral arguments before the Vermont Supreme Court on Tuesday. Milton is challenging outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin's authority to name a replacement for Justice John Dooley, who is not seeking retention and will leave the bench on April 1. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously against outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin Wednesday, barring him from appointing a new justice to join its ranks and delivering a stinging blow on his penultimate day in office. Shumlin, a Democrat, had hoped to appoint a replacement for Justice John Dooley, who revealed in September that he was not seeking retention on the court. Shumlin triggered the replacement process by calling upon the Judicial Nominating Board to send him the names of well qualified candidates to succeed Dooley, who will leave the bench when his term expires on April 1. But Rep. Donald Turner, the House minority leader, and Sen. Joe Benning, the Senate minority leader, petitioned the Supreme Court on Dec. 21 asking it to prevent Shumlin from making the appointment. Continue Reading →

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Supreme Court hears appointment case, decision pending

Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley speaks during oral arguments Tuesday for a case that will determine whether outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin can replace him when his term expires April 1. (Times Argus/Stefan Hard)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin can appoint a replacement for one of its members, Justice John Dooley, before Shumlin leaves office on Thursday. The hearing Tuesday, held in a packed Supreme Court chamber filled with media, lawmakers, statewide elected officials and other observers, was triggered by a petition filed by Rep. Donald Turner and Sen. Joe Benning just before Christmas challenging Shumlin’s authority to name Dooley’s replacement. The justices made no indication Tuesday afternoon before ending the court session when it would issue a ruling. However, the court is expected to rule imminently in order to settle the matter before Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott is sworn into office on Thursday afternoon. Should the justices rule in Shumlin’s favor he could then name a replacement for Dooley on Wednesday when the new Senate is sworn in. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin issues 192 pardons for pot possession

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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. to include additional information. MONTPELIER — Outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin issued 192 pardons to Vermonters convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana, fulfilling a promise he made last month and setting a new record for pardons issued by a single governor in the state’s history. Shumlin, a Democrat, announced on Dec. 8 that he was offering pardons to as many as 17,000 Vermonters who were convicted of possessing marijuana before the state decriminalized the offense in 2013, making it a civil violation akin to a traffic ticket. He said the offer was intended to help create “a more sane drug policy.”

A total of 460 people applied for a pardon through a special application created by the Shumlin administration. Continue Reading →

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Sears backs Shumlin in Supreme Court legal battle

Sen. Dick Sears

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include comments from Gov.-elect Phil Scott. MONTPELIER — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court defending Gov. Peter Shumlin’s authority to appoint a Supreme Court justice before he leaves office on Thursday. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, a close friend and political ally of Shumlin, submitted the legal argument ahead of a Tuesday hearing scheduled by the state’s highest court to determine if Shumlin can make the appointment. Sears is asking the court to dismiss or deny the petition filed by two lawmakers challenging Shumlin’s authority. “Once the vice chair of the committee got involved I thought the chairman ought to get involved,” Sears told the Vermont Press Bureau. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin to offer pardons for pot possession

Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks to reporters about his plan to pardon Vermonters convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana before he leaves office. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday he will look to pardon as many of the 10,000 to 17,000 Vermonters convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana as he can before he leaves office on Jan. 5. Shumlin announced his administration’s effort to issue the pardons Thursday and the creation of an online application form on his official website. “When you look at the Vermonters who are sitting out there with criminal records because they had an ounce or less of marijuana, it could have happened in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, there’s thousands of them and as governor I’ve been trying to lead a more sane drug policy,” Shumlin told reporters. The state decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of the drug in 2013, but many Vermonters still have convictions for something that is now considered to be a civil violation in the state, not a criminal violation. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin: Obamacare critical for Vermonters

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks about the progress of Vermont Health Connect, the state's online health insurance marketplace, and the importance of the federal Affordable Care Act to Vermont. (VPB/Neal P. Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin is defending Obamacare and the state’s health care exchange as President-elect Donald Trump signals his intention to decimate them, a move the governor says will be an “extraordinary disaster for Vermonters.”

Shumlin, who is nearing the final month of his governorship, used a Montpelier news conference Tuesday to defend the federal and state health care reform efforts during his six years in office. He said Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act, is finally working as anticipated when it launched in Oct. 2013. “I personally believe that Vermont now has among the best functioning state exchanges in America and probably the best functioning state exchanges in America,” the governor said. The open enrollment process, which has struggled in past years as technology faltered, is “proceeding smoothly,” Shumlin argued. Continue Reading →

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