Steve Pappas

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Release: Leahy reintroduces online privacy bill

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday was joined by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators to introduce legislation to modernize the nation’s electronic privacy laws and bring protections against warrantless searches into harmony with the technological realities of the 21stcentury. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015 (ECPA) was introduced by Leahy, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in the House.  The bill requires the government to have a search warrant requirement to obtain the content of Americans’ emails and other electronic communications, when those communications are stored with a third-party service provider. Leahy, who authored the original 1986 ECPA law, said the bill introduced Wednesday would bring needed privacy protections to Vermonters in the digital age. Leahy said:  “These reforms would protect Americans’ digital privacy – in their emails, and all the other files and photographs they store in the cloud.  It builds consumer trust, and it provides law enforcement agencies with the proper tools they need to ensure public safety.  This is a bipartisan issue, and now is the time to act swiftly to bring Americans’ privacy rights and protections into the digital age.”
Lee, who also joined with Leahy last Congress on legislation to update ECPA, said:  “In the nearly three decades since ECPA became law, technology has advanced rapidly and beyond the imagination of anyone living in 1986. Continue Reading →

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Report: Vt. lacks transportation to attract young adults

 The Vermont Transportation Board today released its Annual Report, which documents the comments the Board collected during a recent series of public forums that focused on the Transportation needs and wants of young adults.  After hearing from some 250 Vermonters during a series of eight public forums that were held during the fall of 2014, the report documents that young adults are not only dissatisfied with Vermont’s transportation services, but believe that the state’s limited public transportation options combined with its limited number of bicycle-and-pedestrian facilities is causing many of their peers to either move away from the Green Mountains or not consider Vermont when choosing a place to live, work and raise a family.  “Vermont’s population of young adults has been on the decline for decades now,” said Transportation Board Chairman Nick Marro. “The reasons for this trend are multifaceted, but somewhere within this decline lies a transportation nexus. Understanding how young people view the current state of Vermont’s transportation system, and understanding how those views differ from previous generations, is one of the keys to being able to properly plan for the state’s future.”
 Vermont for years now has seen a steady decline of young adults. Continue Reading →

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Release: US Forest Service releases new snowmobiling rule

The U.S. Forest Service has released the final policy rule for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle (OSV) use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service managers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use on National Forest System lands. In the new rule, an over-snow vehicle is defined as “a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow”. “The Forest Service always seeks to provide a wide range of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Continue Reading →

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Release: Vermont second in financial security, report states

 Vermont leads most states in financial security of residents, according to a report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The report also finds that Vermont is in the top 10 of all states for enacting policies designed to help low- and middle-income families attain financial security through asset building. However, the report does find that the Vermont could improve its residents’ financial well-being when it comes to Housing & Homeownership.  CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard provides rankings for the 50 states and District of Columbia on both the ability of residents to achieve financial security and policies designed to help them get there. Continue Reading →

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Release: Sanders’ solar bill blocked by GOP

Senate Republicans today shot down a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to help install up to 10 million solar power systems for homes and businesses in the coming decade. Rebates for solar systems would have been authorized by a Sanders amendment to a Keystone XL oil pipeline bill now before the Senate. “The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders said. His amendment called for a 15 percent rebate to homeowners and businesses that install solar power. The new solar power generated would have been enough to replace one-fifth of the nation’s dirty, coal-fired power plants. Continue Reading →

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Release: Leahy questions DEA policy

 In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) questioned the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) use of a national database to track the movement of vehicles around the United States.  News reports this week revealed that the DEA has expanded its license plate reader (LPR) surveillance program from the Southwest Border to include states across the country. The database now includes hundreds of millions of records about motorists, and it reportedly allows the DEA to track motorists in real-time.  This is the third oversight letter the Senators have sent in recent weeks, raising privacy concerns about the use of emerging law enforcement technologies. Last week, they pressed the administration on the reported use of radar technology that may enable law enforcement agencies to track the movements of private citizens inside their homes. Continue Reading →

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Release: Stuart named deputy banking commissioner

Cynthia Stuart has been named deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation’s Banking Division, Commissioner Susan L. Donegan announced today. Stuart has more than 18 years of experience in both the retail and community aspects of banking and brings to the job a wealth of knowledge of current operations and senior management. She has worked at several federal community banks in New Hampshire and Vermont, including Connecticut River Bank NA in Littleton, NH, where she was senior vice president of Retail Banking and Deposit Operations and most recently Ledyard National Bank in Hanover, NH, where she was senior vice president and senior retail banking officer. Donegan said she is pleased to welcome Stuart to the department and is delighted to have someone of her high caliber join the staff. “Cynthia has an excellent understanding of community-based banking and exceptional knowledge of both banks and credit unions in Vermont and New Hampshire, she said, “and she will bring extensive experience to the department. Continue Reading →

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Release: Leahy testimony on Lynch

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member, Senate Judiciary Committee at the hearing on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve asAttorney General of the United States
It is a pleasure to welcome Loretta Lynch to this Committee.  Ms. Lynch is smart, tough, hard-working, and independent.  She is a true prosecutor’s prosecutor.  Her qualifications are beyond reproach, which is why she has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate twice before to serve as the top Federal prosecutor based in Brooklyn, New York.  I look forward to another swift confirmation process for Ms. Lynch.  As the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Lynch has brought terrorists and cyber-criminals to justice, obtained convictions against corrupt public officials from both political parties, and fought tirelessly against violent crime and financial fraud.  Ms. Lynch has remained determined to protect the rights of victims.  She has worked hard to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve – as evidenced by the fact that her nomination enjoys strong support from both.  She has prosecuted those who have committed crimes against police officers, as well as police officers who have committed crimes.  Her record shows that as Attorney General, Ms. Lynch will effectively, fairly, and independently enforce the law.  Born in North Carolina, Ms. Lynch is the daughter of a Baptist preacher and a school librarian.  We are honored to have members of her family with us today.  I know she will be introducing them to us momentarily.  Ms. Lynch grew up hearing her family speak about living in the Jim Crow South, but she never lost faith that the way to obtain justice is through our legal system.  Her nomination is historic.  When confirmed as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, she will be the first African American woman to lead the Department of Justice.  I can think of no one more deserving of that honor.  Ms. Lynch will lead a Justice Department that faces complex challenges.  Nearly one-third of its budget goes to the Bureau of Prisons, draining vital resources from nearly all other public safety priorities.  A significant factor leading to this budget imbalance is the unnecessary creation of more and more mandatory minimum sentences.  Passing new mandatory minimum laws has become a convenient way for lawmakers to claim that they are tough on crime – even when there is no evidence that these sentences keep us safer. That policy fallacy is one of the reasons we have the largest prison population in the world.  And it is why I oppose all mandatory minimums.  We must work together on thoughtful solutions to address our mass incarceration problem. Continue Reading →

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Release: Shumlin makes transportation push to Congress

Testifying before a U.S. Senate Committee today, Gov. Peter Shumlin urged Congress to act quickly to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund so Vermont and other states can get to work repairing crumbling infrastructure. The Governor warned that in Vermont, projects relying on federal money need to go out to bid next month in order to begin construction in the spring. Failure of Congress to act could put at risk those badly needed projects and the jobs that go with them.  The Governor was joined by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley from Alabama in a bipartisan show of support for continued transportation infrastructure funding from Congress. Vermont alone relies on roughly $300 million each year in funding from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which will become insolvent in May if Congress fails to act. Continue Reading →

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Release: GMP praises Sanders’ solar amendment

Green Mountain Power today issued the following statement from Mary Powell, President and CEO, in support of Senator Sander’s Rooftop Solar Amendment:
 “Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s Energy Company of the Future, supports Senator Bernie Sanders’s amendment for its economic and environmental value. The proposal will support installation of solar power systems on top of 10 million homes and businesses within the next decade.  This plan aligns with GMP’s mission to deliver low-cost, low-carbon, and highly reliable power, which is critical to our energy future.  “GMP is partnering with customers to accelerate the pace of change here in Vermont. We are finding new ways to help Vermonters save money and be more comfortable, while moving to cleaner local sources of energy – exemplified by our Energy Homes of the Future ‘e-Homes’ in Rutland and our goal to make Rutland the Energy City of the Future. Generating energy through microgrids empowers our customers to make more choices about how and when they use energy.  We are also partnering with NRG Energy Inc. to bring innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable energy solutions for Vermonters. Continue Reading →

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