Peter Shumlin

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State, feds reach deal on all-payer model

Green Mountain Care Board Chairman Al Gobeille, second from left, and Gov. Peter Shumlin, second from right, discuss the terms of an agreement with the federal government to transform the way the state pays for health care. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Vermont has reached a deal with the federal government to move forward with a plan to overhaul the way health care is paid for in Vermont by basing payments to providers on the quality of health outcomes rather than the volume of services they provide, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday. Shumlin, a Democrat whose tenure in office will end in January after three terms, has been seeking the transformational shift in the state’s health care payment system for more than two years. Negotiations with the federal government have resulted in a draft agreement that will now be presented to the public for review before the state and federal government sign off on it. “We have now a draft agreement from the federal government that will allow us to take on a challenge that I believe effects the pocketbooks of every single Vermonter,” Shumlin told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. “This is probably the single thing that hurts Vermonters the most economically. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin planning to name new Vermont Supreme Court justice

Gov. Peter Shumlin is planning to name a replacement for Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley, front left, who will retire from the court in March. (Courtesy photo)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office said Tuesday that he plans to appoint a successor to replace retiring Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley, even though he won’t leave the bench until after Shumlin leaves office. Dooley, who has served on the Vermont Supreme Court since former Democratic Gov. Madeleine Kunin appointed him in 1987, has announced that he will not seek retention and retire from the court in March. The 72-year-old justice will retire as the third-longest serving member of the state’s highest court. Shumlin, who is not seeking re-election and will leave office in early January, is planning to appoint Dooley’s replacement, according to spokeswoman Susan Allen. Allen said state statute and the rules governing the state’s Judicial Nominating Board call for the sitting governor to begin the process of choosing a successor when a justice announces retirement. Continue Reading →

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Top Shumlin administration official heading to lobbying firm

Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson

MONTPELIER — Outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin’s top administration official is leaving state government at the end of the month to join a Montpelier-based lobbying firm. According to the administration, Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson will leave his government post on Sept. 30. He will join MMR, Inc., to head up a new division that focuses on international projects, particularly climate change initiatives, according to MMR. Johnson’s position will focus on helping governments meet their goals and obligations under the Paris climate accord that has been signed by more than 170 countries. “We are excited to help facilitate the critical conversations between business and government
that will be so important to meeting regional, national, and international climate change goals,” MMR President Andrew MacLean said in a statement. Continue Reading →

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Story + Podcast: Shumlin narrows focus in final months

Gov. Peter Shumlin
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Listen: Capital Beat Podcast with Gov. Peter Shumlin

MONTPELIER — With just three months left in office, Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin says he plans to push hard to complete a handful of projects before his successor is sworn into office in early January — including an overhaul of how the state pays for health care services. Shumlin, who is not seeking re-election after his third term expires, reflected in an interview about his time in office and pledged to continue his work until his final day as governor. “This is the best job that anyone can ask for, being governor of Vermont. It’s been an extraordinary privilege. One thing that governors do every day is focus on what they were elected to do, which is to grow prosperity, grow jobs, make sure our state remains the best place to live and work and raise a family. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin headed to Washington to negotiate all-payer model

Gov. Peter Shumlin

MONTPELIER — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and his top health care team will meet with federal officials next week to continue negotiations on a major transformation in how health care is paid for in the state. Shumlin, a Democrat whose tenure in office will end in January after three terms, is seeking a transformational shift in the state’s health care system. He said at an unrelated news conference Wednesday that he and top aides will meet with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to help negotiations that have been ongoing for months. “One of the things I’m really focused on is getting this done before we’re done, and I know President Obama shares my goal in doing that,” the governor said. “I’m going to be meeting with the secretary next week. Continue Reading →

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After wind kerfuffle, Dunne campaign pushes back against Minter, Shumlin

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne speaks at a news conference at his White River Junction campaign headquarters. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne sought to quash the furor over the wind siting policy he articulated Friday at a news conference Wednesday by lashing out at fellow candidate Sue Minter and outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Dunne, a former Google employee and Windsor County state senator, called for the news conference at his White River Junction campaign headquarters Wednesday morning. Dunne has been floundering since he released his policy position Friday, which called for communities to first approve wind projects by popular vote before they could proceed. The policy position caused an immediate backlash. Environmentalist Bill McKibben withdrew his endorsement of Dunne in favor of Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation. Continue Reading →

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Dunne position on wind draws fire

Matt Dunne

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne is drawing strong criticism from environmental advocates and leaders after calling for local referendums over the siting of wind energy projects less than two weeks before the state’s Aug. 9 primary. On Friday, Dunne, a former Google employee and Windsor County state senator, distributed a press release detailing his stance on the siting of renewable energy projects. At the top of the three points listed Dunne stated that “wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located.”

“As governor, I will ensure that no means no. Towns should be voting by Australian ballot, and if a town says no to a large industrial wind project I would use all the power of the Governor’s office to ensure that is the end of the project,” Dunne wrote. Continue Reading →

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Economists: state revenues to grow less than expected

Economists Tom Kavet, right, and Jeff Carr, left, present a new revenue forecast to the Emergency Board on Thursday, July 21. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Economists for the Shumlin administration and Legislature issued a revised state revenue forecast for the current fiscal year Thursday that projects a total of $28 million less in revenue, but growth over the 2016 fiscal revenues. Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers, issued their revised revenue forecast Thursday to the state’s Emergency Board, which includes the governor and the four chairs of the Legislature’s money committees. Revenue for the state’s general fund was lowered by $21 million, while revenues for the transportation and education funds were lowered by $3.5 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Still, revenues are expected to grow above the 2016 fiscal year, which closed on June 30, both Kavet and Carr said. “The upturn continues, that’s the good news,” Carr told the Emergency Board. Continue Reading →

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Senators reach bipartisan deal on national GMO labeling law

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MONTPELIER — A bipartisan deal has been reached by two key members of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on a national GMO labeling law that would nullify Vermont’s labeling law set to take effect on July 1. The compromise bill was announced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, and its chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. The legislation would create the first mandatory, nationwide label for food products containing genetically modified organisms that are commonly referred to as GMOs. “This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers craft replacement language for vetoed energy siting bill

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MONTPELIER — Key lawmakers have drafted replacement language for an energy siting bill vetoed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday they hope will be passed during a legislative veto session on Thursday to fix issues he identified in his veto message. Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking a fourth two-year term, vetoed S.230 Monday over concerns that language approved on the final day of the legislative session would have unintended consequences. He said the emergency rule-making process called for in the bill for new wind turbine sound standards unintentionally invokes a provision in statute that would make Vermont the first state in the country to declare a public health emergency around wind energy “without peer-reviewed science backing that assertion up.”

Additionally, Shumlin said new temporary sound standards for wind turbines “unintentionally relies on a standard used in a small 150 kilowatt project as the standard for all wind” projects, which “could have the clearly unintended effect of pushing wind projects closer to homes where the background noise is higher.” Another provision in the bill requires notice of certificates of public good for energy projects on parcels of land to be filed with land records. He said that “could create problems for residential solar customers when they go to sell their home.”

The fourth concern deals with money. Under the bill, regional planning commissions are supposed to help municipalities develop local energy plans that conform to the state’s energy goals. Continue Reading →

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