MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott will sign an executive order today creating the Governor’s Marijuana Advisory Commission that will review myriad issues regarding the legalization of marijuana and look at 2019 for potential legislation to create a regulated retail market for pot. The first-term Republican is creating the commission after vetoing a bill in June passed by the Democratic-led Legislature that sought to legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of dry marijuana and the cultivation of up to two mature marijuana plants and four immature plants beginning July 1, 2018. The bill would have also created a commission to craft legislation for lawmakers to consider during the 2018 legislative session that would create a regulated retail market for marijuana and review various issues related to legalization. Vermont would have been the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislative process if Scott had signed the bill. Other states that have already legalized the drug have done so through public referendums.
Scott worked with lawmakers to appease his concerns ahead of a June 21 veto session, but lawmakers quickly passed a budget that Scott had also vetoed, leaving no time to address the marijuana bill. Continue Reading →
MONTPELIER — Properties with more than three acres of impervious surface — such as a paved parking lot — may soon need to obtain stormwater permits or pay significant “impact fees” under new stormwater rules being considered by the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation is required to adopt an updated stormwater management rule under Act 64, which was signed into law by former Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2015. The updated rule is part of the state’s effort to meet the federal Total Maximum Daily Load mandate for phosphorous flowing into Lake Champlain. Padraic Monks, DEC’s stormwater program manager, said the updated rule being drafted by the department includes the additional general stormwater permit. “We were directed to revise the stormwater rule, re-issue it by the end of this year and also adopt new regulations for existing stormwater discharges,” Monks said. Continue Reading →
MONTPELIER — House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and the chairs of the House money committees came out swinging Wednesday, accusing the governor of shirking his responsibility to govern by not engaging with lawmakers in the budget process after his initial proposal was rejected. Johnson, joined by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kitty Toll and Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Janet Ancel, excoriated Republican Gov. Phil Scott for being disengaged from the budget process and sticking to what they say is a budget plan already rejected by lawmakers and local voters. Showdowns between lawmakers and the administration are expected, but for the first time in six years, the Democratic-led Legislature must work with a Republican administration. Wednesday’s tough words from Democrats indicate a more volatile process is likely this year than in recent years when Democrats also controlled the governor’s office. Scott’s budget proposal, unveiled in late January, called for local school districts to level-fund their budgets and force teachers to pay at least 20 percent of their health care premiums. Doing so would save tens of millions of dollars in the state’s education fund. Continue Reading →
MONTPELIER — Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s budget proposal suffered a potentially fatal blow Friday as the House voted to reject his plan to move school budget votes to May 23. The House voted on an amendment to an underlying education bill from the Senate. It called for moving local school budget votes from Town Meeting Day in March to May 23, as Scott called for in his budget address last month. Scott was looking to provide more time for local school districts to find a way to level fund 2018 fiscal year budgets at 2017 fiscal year levels, which he wants the Legislature to mandate. But the House voted 47 to 87, largely on party lines, against the amendment sponsored by Barre City independent Rep. Paul Poirier, who himself was against the idea. Continue Reading →