Tag Archives: Peter Shumlin

State plans to end child and family homelessness

MONTPELIER — State officials are rolling out initiatives to end child and family homelessness in Vermont by 2020.

Monday morning, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Agency of Human Services Sec. Hal Cohen announced plans by the state to follow federal models to end child and family homelessness, including the construction of affordable housing and the consolidation of services to prevent homelessness in the first place.

“The stress and instability of homelessness can have profound impacts on children’s health, behavioral development and educational achievement,” Cohen said. “It’s time to wake up and realize that this is intolerable and that we are responsible to build the Vermont we want to see. For families without housing, we can do better than a motel room on cold nights.”

On any given night, there are approximately 1,500 homeless people in Vermont, with about half of the population in the state’s emergency shelters comprised of families.

Among families with children, homelessness is on the rise. According to annual data collected from school districts and supervisory unions by the Agency of Education, the number of homeless children in Vermont has risen 46 percent during the past five years, from 784 in 2010 to 1,145 in 2014.

The state will model its effort to end child and family homelessness after a framework developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, said Angus Chaney, director of housing for the Agency of Human Services.

“The family connection framework is the whole suite of programs that cities and states are finding most effective in ending homelessness,” said Chaney, who said the federal framework is focused on quickly connecting homeless families with housing.

“It front loads financial assistance to get someone in permanent housing within a week or a month, and provides services and financial assistance when needed,” Chaney continued. “The focus is to get them into housing quicker.”

The initiatives will be rolled out in Rutland and Washington counties with the Homeless Prevention Center in Rutland and Capstone Community Action in Barre.

Deborah Hall, executive director of the Homeless Prevention Center, said the plan calls for the creation of a database for the sharing of information among the various entities that offer social services “so households won’t have to tell their story 15 times.”

Hall said another initiative includes coordinating with landlords in a given region to develop a list of available housing, again, with the goal of securing housing for a homeless family as quickly as possible.

Monday’s announcement came as Shumlin announced a $580,000 federal grant to build 14 units of affordable housing and a new day station in the Burlington area.

“Even with serious budget challenges, we are fortunate in Vermont to have many of the programs and partnerships already in place to support an ambitious initiative,” Shumlin said. “We can build on these foundations to achieve the goal of ending childhood and family homelessness by 2020.”

Chaney declined to speculate on how many units of affordable housing will need to be built, or how much it might cost the state to meet the goal of eliminating child and family homelessness in the next five years.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I know this will evolve into directions we don’t yet see,” Chaney said. “As we look at the data, it will drive what we launch and where we launch.”

Unemployment rate drops to pre-recession level

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s unemployment rate for February was the lowest in nearly eight years.

The state Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report Friday, showing the state had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for February, a decrease of 0.2 percent compared with the month before.

According to the report, February was the first time the state unemployment rate has fallen below 4 percent since May 2007.

“Vermont’s unemployment rate — at 3.9 percent — is back as low as those reported before the recession,” said Annie Noonan, commissioner of the state Department of Labor, who noted the report is a sign of “better economic conditions in certain parts of the state.”

Of the 17 labor markets around the state — statistics for which are not seasonally adjusted — every one of them saw a decline in unemployment, with some regions, such as Bennington, Rutland and Barre-Montpelier seeing a monthly drop of 0.6 percent.

The Burlington-South Burlington region had the lowest monthly unemployment rate at 3 percent, while Derby continued to have the highest unemployment rate at 7.7 percent.

Without seasonal adjustment, the state unemployment rate for February was 4.1 percent, a decline of 0.5 percent.

February’s numbers will be subject to revision in the coming months, but, according to the Department of Labor, final numbers for December 2014 show the state added approximately 3,400 jobs compared with December 2013.
Gov. Peter Shumlin welcomed the February job report.

“This is positive news for Vermont’s economy,” Shumlin said. “Combined with the revised jobs numbers released last month, which showed an increase of 3,400 jobs in 2014, Vermont’s economy continues its recovery and is moving in the right direction. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure Vermont’s economy works for every single Vermonter.”

George Malek is president of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, where the Barre-Montpelier region saw its monthly unemployment rate fall from 5.1 percent in January to 4.5 percent in February.

“People who are putting their own money at risk are doing a lot of construction, and that is always a good sign,” Malek said. “Up until the last six to 12 months, things have been lagging, other than rebuilding things that had been damaged four years ago.”

“I am cautiously optimistic that those people who have put their money on the line have a good reason to do so. They tend to be much better judges of what’s out there,” Malek continued. “I take some heart in their willingness to step up to the plate.”

The Rutland region saw its monthly unemployment rate fall from 4.8 percent in January to 4.2 percent in February.

“On a local basis, there has seen some manufacturing hiring going on. General Electric continues to add jobs, so that certainly helps to improve those numbers,” said Tom Donahue, CEO and executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.

Donahue said the increase in manufacturing jobs has offset the loss of retail jobs following the closure of Aubuchon Hardware, Sears, and, in April, J.C. Penny.

Capitol Beat with the Governor 3-27-15

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Gov. Peter Shumlin chats with Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal P. Goswami about the health care package in play in the House, new unemployment numbers and gun legislation that cleared the Senate this week.

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Shumlin’s chief of staff to depart in May

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday his Chief of Staff Liz Miller will step down from the post in May and return to work in the private sector.

Darren Springer, currently the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Service, will replace her, Shumlin said.

At a news conference Thursday, Shumlin said he convinced Miller more than 4 years ago to first become commissioner of DPS, and later to become his chief of staff after winning his first term as governor in 2010.

Shumlin praised Miller for her work on behalf of his administration and Vermonters.

Shumlin Chief of Staff Liz Miller, center, listens as Gov. Peter Shumlin announces that Deputy DPS Commissioner Darren Springer, right, will replace her in May when she steps down from the post.

Shumlin Chief of Staff Liz Miller, center, listens as Gov. Peter Shumlin announces that Deputy DPS Commissioner Darren Springer, right, will replace her in May when she steps down from the post.

“I have been blessed with one of the brightest, most hard-working, dedicated people that I’ve ever worked with in my lifetime. Liz has now made the decision at the end of May to do what she threatened to do two and a half years ago, go back to the private sector,” Shumlin said. “We could not have had a person who served this state with more distinction, dedication and more elbow grease and more grace than Liz Miller.”

Springer, who became deputy commissioner of DPS in March 2013, will continue in that role until the end of May. He previously served as a senior policy advisor for energy and environment issues for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and later as Sanders’ chief counsel. Prior to that Springer worked as the energy and transportation program director for the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

Shumlin said Springer has been “the really creative collaborator and creator of new ways of promoting renewables, promoting cleaner, greener energy throughout Vermont.”

“I couldn’t be more delighted to have someone of Darren’s caliber take over from Liz at the end of this legislative session,” Shumlin said.

Dispatch centers get temporary reprieve

MONTPELIER — Emergency dispatch centers in Rutland and Derby will get a temporary reprieve from the chopping block in the state budget approved Monday by the House Appropriations Committee.

Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed in his recommended budget that two of the state’s four public safety answering points be closed and operations consolidated with the remaining two in Williston and Rockingham. The plan, according to the administration, saves $1.7 million annually and would eliminate about 15 of the state’s 71 full-time and 33 temporary emergency dispatchers.

Facing a $113 million gap in the 2016 fiscal year budget, the administration has insisted the consolidation is necessary to help reduce spending in the budget.

But the House Appropriations Committee sought a way to keep all four dispatch centers open, even temporarily, following strong push back from the Vermont State Employees Association and first responders from around the state. Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said the the committee’s plan will keep the PSAPs in Rutland and Derby open until at least Sept. 15.

Rep. Mitzi Johnson

Rep. Mitzi Johnson

The House plan uses $425,000 from the state’s Universal Service Fund, which assesses a 2 percent fee on telecommunications services to supports Vermont’s Enhanced E-911 program. It was approved by the committee unanimously.

“Although it is not our preference to use that money for anything other than, specifically, 911 call taking, this was closely related enough,” Johnson said Tuesday. “It is strictly one-time, USF money that keeps the four PSAPs running as is until Sept. 15.”

Johnson said the committee heard from many people, particularly in the Rutland and Derby areas, who are concerned that emergency dispatch services will suffer under the administration’s consolidation plan. Johnson said her committee deferred to the Government Operations Committee on safety concerns, but heeded requests to allow those communities time to explore options to maintain local dispatch services.

“It gives time for local entities to try to come up with an alternative or a transition plan,” she said. “They asked for some time to come up with a local alternative, so that’s what we’re offering.”

The committee included legislative language in its budget plan calling for Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn to meet with first responders in the Rutland and Derby areas about how dispatch services could be funded.

“I think there were enough questions raised, and there were enough possible alternatives raised, the fact that there are potentially viable, home-grown alternatives out there, is reason enough to say, ‘Is there a different way to do things?’” Johnson said. “There are places all over government where we’re asking for a different way to do things.”

Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said the administration is reviewing the Appropriations Committee plan and would not be commenting on each component. Shumlin issued a statement Monday after the House approved its plan on a bipartisan, 11 to 0 vote.

“My budget team will take a close look at the specifics in the bill passed this afternoon, and will continue to work closely with the Legislature as the budget makes its way through the next steps in the House and on to the Senate later this session,” Shumlin said in the statement. “I remain committed to making sure this budget responsibly spends our limited resources to advance our economy and protect our most vulnerable.”

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

Shumlin says fed exchange possible if latest deadlines missed

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration will scrap Vermont Health Connect and pursue joining a federally-run health insurance market later this year if technology upgrades needed for the state site are not working by October, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Friday.

Shumlin, in an interview Friday, said his administration would legislative language to the House Health Care Committee Friday afternoon that will codify the administration’s contingency plan. Shumlin said he expects the state’s contractor, Optum, to complete the so-called change of circumstance function by the end of May, as well as the necessary technology for individuals to enroll in insurance plans through the website by early October.

Should Optum not deliver, the state will begin pursuing a move to a Federally-Supported State-Based Marketplace for the 2017 open enrollment period, Shumlin said. The federal government provides three exchange marketplace options, all of which use the healthcare.gov web platform and federal call center.

But the FSSBM option would allow states to maintain the most authority over health plans, officials said. A bipartisan group put forth a similar idea earlier this year.

Listen to Gov. Peter Shumlin discuss the plan here.

A full story will appear in Saturday’s editions of the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald.

Capitol Beat with the Governor 3-20-15

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Gov. Peter Shumlin and Chief of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller discuss the administration’s new self-imposed deadlines for Vermont Health Connect. Failure to deliver working technology will result in the state pursuing a transition to a federal health insurance exchange.

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Gun bill advances in Senate

MONTPELIER — The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill ahead of the Legislature’s Friday evening deadline for non-money bills on a 5-0 vote, ensuring the full Senate will consider a scaled back-gun bill this year.

The legislation, supported unanimously in the committee Friday, seeks to ban some convicted criminals from possessing weapons and will require people found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others to be reported to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It would take effect on Oct. 1.

The legislation is a scaled back version of another bill, S.31, that Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, declared “dead,” because it included an expansion of background checks for private gun sales, something that was vehemently opposed by gun rights activists.

Sears, who wrote the original draft of the revised bill that looks to keep guns out of the hands of some convicts, said he supports the idea because Vermont is the only state in the nation without such a statute. The federal government also has a similar law, but federal prosecutors often do not prosecute because of limited resources, advocates argued.

The committee voted unanimously Friday to merge the Sears-crafted language with the mental health reporting component, which came as a proposal from the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. That committee’s chairwoman, Claire Ayer, D-Addison, urged the Judiciary Committee to include it in its provision earlier this week. It was also part of S.31.

Those found by a court to be a danger to themselves will, if the bill is signed in to law, be reported to the federal database beginning Oct. 1. Anyone reported to the database could be removed from the database after three years if a court rules they are no longer a danger.

The committee labored over which crimes to include in the ban Friday morning before voting on the measure. Most major crimes in Vermont are included, but the committee agreed Friday to remove lewd and lascivious conduct, several motor vehicle crimes and all misdemeanors except domestic violence.

The committee’s action Friday was hailed by Gun Sense President Ann Braden, who helped launch the effort for new gun laws in January. She called the vote “an historic victory.”

“This is a gun violence prevention bill that’s going forward despite the opposition of the gun lobby. It shows that second amendment rights [and] respect for the 16th amendment in the Vermont Constitution goes hand-in-hand with gun violence prevention,” Braden said.

Although Sears declared Friday that S.31 — and expanded background checks for private gun sales — is dead for this year and next year, Braden said her group will continue to push for it.

Sen. Dick Sears

Sen. Dick Sears

“I think these are really important measures that are definitely going to keep guns out of the wrong hands. In terms of background checks, we still want that to happen. We knew that this was going to take a long time,” she said.

Evan Hughs, legislative liaison for the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said his group will also continue its effort to ensure that gun rights are not infringed upon.

“It’s one more step in an evolving process of legislation. As the federation we’re concerned about the interests of the hunting and shooting community in the state of Vermont,” he said following Friday’s vote. “At this point we still have things that concern us but we’re willing to participate in getting the bill right.”

The meticulous attention the committee paid to the bill Friday illustrates the delicate process — and political challenges — involved in passing gun legislation. Sears said he felt “extreme pressure from all sides.”

“When I announced that I wasn’t supporting the background portion of the bill that pissed off most of the more liberal members of my caucus as well as the leadership of my caucus as well as many of my constituents back home,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, an original sponsor of S.31, pushed Sears hard to advance a bill. He spent considerable time in the Judiciary Committee, often seated near Sears, monitoring its progress.

“I think his behavior has been fascinating,” Sears said.

His attention was bothersome to Sears, and prompted the veteran lawmaker, who is known to express his displeasure at times, to offer Campbell total control earlier this week.

“There was one point where I asked him if he really wanted to chair the committee,” Sears said.

Campbell, a deputy state’s attorney in Windsor County and a former police officer, said he was pleased with Friday’s vote, but noted it is only “one small battle won.” The extra attention, he said, was a result of its importance.

“When you see the effect that heroin and other drugs have had on our families here in Vermont, I was willing to do anything I needed to do to try to come up with an answer,” he said. “In addition to being the pro tem I am also one of the senators. This is a bill that I actually sponsored, and as such, it was one where I felt I had not only a duty but an obligation to shepherd it in any way I could.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, listen to testimony on a gun bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, listen to testimony on a gun bill.

Campbell said he was aware of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s discussions with members of the committee and was trying to counter that force.

“The governor made it very clear how he feels about this bill. He doesn’t support it,” Campbell said. “The governor is very powerful and the administration is very powerful. As such, I guess I had to step up my involvement.”

Shumlin, who strongly opposes any new gun laws, was pushing his message. Sears said he had conversations with Shumlin, including a call Thursday night from the governor to inquire about the bill’s status.

“He asked me what I was expecting to have happen,” Sears said. “He never said, ‘Don’t do it,’ but he’s been pretty clear publicly.”

The governor has adopted a wait-and-see stance. He acknowledged in an interview Friday that he has been speaking with committee members “over the last weeks,” but will not declare if he intends to veto the legislation if it clears both chambers and reaches his desk.

“If a bill comes to my desk, I will look at it when it gets to me. These bills have a long way to go. My feelings I’ve made clear. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Let’s give them the latitude to do what they think is right and the governor will do what I think is right.”

Sears said the bill, as crafted, is narrow and could end up with the governor’s support.

“If we can get it through without adding something on in either the Senate or the House, I suspect he’s going to be comfortable with the idea that there’s certainly people that probably shouldn’t possess firearms,” Sears said. “It’s up to him. He’ll do what he wants.”

Shumlin, however, is far from offering his support.

“These are tough bills. (Sears is) trying to come out with one that he thinks is sensible, but we may well agree to disagree,” Shumlin said.

Campbell, despite warnings from some opponents of the bill that his efforts would cause him political harm, said he decided to push away.

“The price that I will end up paying for this is one that won’t be known for a couple years. I’ve had people tell me, quite frankly, that my political career is over for pushing this bill. As I’ve said before, that’s fine, I’m ready to deal with that.”

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

Read the legislation below:

Capitol Beat with the Governor 3-13-15

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Gov. Peter Shumlin chats with Vermont Press Bureau Neal P. Goswami about a House Health Care Committee bill, the state budget and gun legislation.

Tax code changes eyed to balance budget

MONTPELIER — The 2016 fiscal year state budget the House considers is likely to include $35 million in new revenue raised through changes in the tax code, according to House Speaker Shap Smith.

That amount is consistent with what Gov. Peter Shumlin recommended in his budget, which was presented to lawmakers in January, the Democratic speaker said in an interview Thursday. But the House plan will likely also look to cap itemized tax deductions to raise additional tax revenue from wealthier Vermonters, he said.

“The governor’s original budget relied on $35 million of new revenue and we are looking at that amount of revenue to balance the budget that the governor presented, as well as the additional … $18 million that was necessitated by the revenue downgrade. We’re continuing to rely on the need to raise $35 million in new revenue,” Smith said.

The 2016 fiscal year budget has a current hole of about $113 million. After raising $35 million revenue, lawmakers will need to make about $78 million in cuts.

House Speaker Shap Smith

House Speaker Shap Smith

The House, Smith said, will use the governor’s proposal to eliminate a current policy that allows taxpayers who itemize deductions to deduct their previous year’s state and local tax liability from their taxable income. But the House will look to go even further and cap all itemized deductions at two-and-a-half times the standard deduction. For a couple filing jointly that would be about $31,000.

Those two measures would raise $32.4 million, Sara Teachout, a fiscal analyst with the Joint Fiscal Office, told the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday. Revenue included in a fee bill makes up the additional general fund revenue needed to hit the $35 million target.

Smith said he did not want to commit to that plan before the committee fully considers it, but said he supports it.

“I think that given the reductions that we’re making in the budget and the fact that it largely impacts people at the lower end of the income ladder that it’s fair to ask those at the upper end of the income ladder to pitch in to solve the problem, and through capping the itemized deductions I think we could do that,” he said.

According to Teachout, Vermonters earning $75,000 or less would chip in an additional $3.91 million under the proposal. Vermonters earning $75,000 or more would contribute an additional $28.48 million in tax revenue.

According to data Teachout provided the Ways and Means Committee Thursday, about 84,000 of Vermont’s 310,389 tax filers would see a tax increase. But the increases would be minimal for low- and middle-income Vermonters. People earning $75,000 or less would see their tax bills rise by $144 or less, on average. The state’s 355 filers earning $1 million or more would see an average tax increase of $18,603.

Smith said limiting deductions will put Vermont more in line with tax policy in most states.

“They often times don’t allow the itemized deductions that we do. I think it moves us closer to what other states do,” he said.

Exactly where the House will look to make budget cuts is still evolving, Smith said. However, some of Shumlin’s recommendations are likely to be used, including cuts to the state’s assistance program known as Reach Up and to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and through the consolidation of emergency dispatch centers.

The House will also look to include $10.8 million in labor savings from the state’s work force, according to Smith.

“Under any circumstance in balancing this budget it’s going to require some labor savings,” he said.

The administration ratcheted up pressure on the Vermont State Employees Association this week in its effort to obtain the labor savings by requesting that agencies and departments identify up to 325 positions to be cut. The administration has asked the union to reopen its contract to negotiate the savings without job cuts, but the union has so far refused to do so.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee held a public hearing Thursday on a list of potential cuts totaling $29 million. The list features a range of ideas, but most would not provide immediate savings for the 2016 fiscal year, Smith said. Many of those ideas could be used to address future budget gaps, including in 2017, which faces a shortfall of about $45 million.

Smith said the Appropriations Committee, led by Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, will use the list as needed.

“I really do have confidence that that committee will make the right recommendations that need to be done to balance the budget. I really rely heavily … on that committee to make the right decisions,” he said.

The final House plan must pass muster with both the administration and the Senate. Smith said there are ongoing conversations with both, but areas of disagreement will be addressed when the Senate considers the House version.

“I don’t think that we have identified, sort of, the areas of tension yet. I don’t think we’ll have a good sense of that until it gets over to the Senate,” he said.

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

Video: City Room with Steve Pappas

Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Editor Steve Pappas discusses a proposed payroll tax with Gov. Peter Shumlin and Chief of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller.

City Room with Steve Pappas: Gov. Peter Shumlin & Lawrence Miller, Cost Shift on Health Reform from Central Vermont Television on Vimeo.

Capitol Beat 3-9-15

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Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Editor Steve Pappas sits down with Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal P. Goswami to talk about town meeting, Gov. Peter Shumlin’s troubles selling his payroll tax plan, a renewed aid-in-dying debate and AHS Secretary Hal Cohen.

Capitol Beat with the Governor 3-6-15

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Gov. Peter Shumlin sits down with Vermont Press Bureau Chief Neal P. Goswami and discusses recent poll numbers on his job performance.

New CPI/VTDigger poll shows Shumlin’s approval rating continues to slide

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has seen a further erosion of support since the November election, with 47 percent disapproving of his job performance and just 41 percent approving.

The new polling data, compiled by Castleton Polling Institute for VTDigger, marks the first time that the third-term Democratic governor’s approval rating has gone underwater since taking office in 2011, meaning more Vermonters disapprove of him than approve. Shumlin won 46.4 percent of the vote in November, barely edging out his Republican challenged in the popular vote.

In April 2014 a CPI/VTDigger pole placed Shumlin’s approval rating at 49 percent.

The numbers are even worse for the governor when broken down further. The poll found that only 62 percent of Democrats approve of Shumlin’s performance, and just 37 percent of independents. The number of people identifying as independents is also on the rise, according to the poll data.

Only 16 percent of Republicans view Shumlin’s job performance favorably, while 77 percent view it unfavorably.

Women view Shumlin’s job performance more favorable than men, 44 percent to 36 percent.

The numbers present problems for Shumlin should he seek a fourth term in 2016. The growing number of independents means any candidate will need to win a sizable portion of the electorate that consider themselves independent. With Shumlin’s support among Democrats on the decline, he will need even more independents to help him secure another term.

The poll also queried Vermonters about the Legislature. At the moment, 41 percent view the Legislature favorably and 32 percent disapprove. A large number, 26 percent, had no opinion. Women view the Legislature more favorably than men, 45 percent to 37 percent.

A plurality of Vermonters, according to the poll, believe that Vermont is headed in the right direction. Forty-eight percent said the state is heading in the right direction, while 41 percent said it is not. Democrats, at 70 percent, are more likely to think the state is heading in the right direction. Just 21 percent of Republicans believe that, while 42 percent of independents said the state is heading in the right direction.

Poll results released by VTDigger on Monday showed a large majority of Vermonters support legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales. According to the results, 77 percent support such a law while 20 percent oppose it. Support among women and Democrats is high, at 86 percent and 93 percent, respectively. Even a majority of Republicans — 57 percent — support such a law.

However, legislation introduced in the Senate this year calling for such a law, S.31, has been sidelined by a lack of support among key lawmakers.

The poll was conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute’s phone center using live interviewers between Feb. 9 and 24. The polling sample of 700 people has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Shumlin, who is vacationing this week, was not available for comment. Susan Allen, a spokeswoman, said his office would not comment on the new poll.

“We are not going to comment on polling results. We are focused on balancing the budget and getting results for Vermonters,” she wrote in an email.

neal.goswami@timesargus.com

Shumlin signs new law aimed at sex offenders

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law on Wednesday legislation that enhances reporting requirements for sex offenders when they are released from prison.

The new law, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, requires sex offenders to report to the Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry before they are released from prison. Offenders previously had up to three days after their release to report information about their intended residence. The Department of Corrections could not compel an offender to provide such information before release.

The law also requires sex offenders to report to the Sex Offender Registry within 24 hours of being released from probation, parole, furlough or a supervised community sentence.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signs H.16 in to law.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signs H.16 in to law.

“This is common sense legislation that will make our communities and state a safer place for everyone,” Shumlin said. “I want to thank Rep. Grad and Sen. [Dick] Sears [D-Bennington] as well as the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for their hard work on this legislation.”

Grad said the law will ease concerns for communities and victims when sex offenders are released.

“This law makes offenders accountable and provides communities with vital information about where an offender intends to live prior to his or her release,” Grad said. “This change from the three days given for notification is significant. Those can be three very long days for a victim and her community.”

The law took effect immediately and applies to offenders currently sentenced for qualifying crimes and those sentenced after enactment.