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key lawmakers craft legal pot compromise

MONTPELIER — Key lawmakers have sent a proposal to Gov. Phil Scott that makes changes to a marijuana legalization bill he vetoed last month ahead of next week’s veto session. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said language he crafted with House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad was sent to the governor’s office Thursday. The two lawmakers are awaiting feedback from the governor on their plan to address his concerns with S.22, which was vetoed by Scott on May 24. “I’ve been working with several other senators and met last week … with Maxine Grad and we agreed on a new proposal. We sent copies of the proposal to the governor. Continue Reading →

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Scott fulfills promise to veto budget, property tax bills

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov. Phil Scott fulfilled his promise Tuesday to veto the state budget and a bill that sets property tax rates over a disagreement with Democratic lawmakers about how to negotiate teacher health care benefits. Scott sent a single veto message to House Clerk William MaGill Tuesday morning for both the budget, H.518, and what is known as the yield bill, H.509. MaGill promptly rejected the single message, however, saying two bills cannot be vetoed in a single message. “Every bill needs to have it’s own objections, according to the [Vermont] Constitution,” MaGill said. “There hasn’t been, as far as I’ve ever seen, a veto message for two bills at the same time.”

Scott spokesman Ethan Latour said the administration disagrees with MaGill’s ruling, saying there is not constitutional provision or statute “for the house clerk to impost a restriction on how, or in what way, a governor communicates his objections in writing.”

“We feel the House Clerk’s actions are obstructionist, unconstitutional and partisan, which makes them exponentially more concerning,” Latour said. Continue Reading →

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Scott receives budget bill after formal request for immediate delivery

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott’s office received the 2018 fiscal year budget bill from the House Friday afternoon after it submitted a formal request for immediate delivery, setting the stage for the governor to veto the budget and a property tax bill sometime next week. Lawmakers had maintained possession of the 2018 fiscal year budget since they passed it two weeks ago and adjourned the 2017 legislative session. Another bill that sets property tax rates, known as the yield bill, was delivered to the governor Thursday. Scott has vowed to veto both pieces of legislative because they do not account for a savings of up to $26 million in the Education Fund that he began demanding from lawmakers in mid-April. Scott is seeking to capture savings from new health care plans that will be offered to all Vermont teachers in January. Continue Reading →

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Scott appoints new PSB chair

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has appointed attorney Anthony Roisman to serve as the next chairman of the three-member Public Service Board, a quasi-judicial regulatory board that regulates Vermont utilities and oversees the siting of energy infrastructure across the state. Roisman, who has a private law practice, will succeed outgoing PSB Chairman James Volz, who was first appointed by former Republican Gov. James Douglas in 2005 and reappointed by former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011. Roisman will assume the chairmanship on June 12. “I think this is a unique opportunity because of a combination of factors — the quality of the other two commissioners, the staff of the public service board, which is just an outstanding group of people, the citizens … and of course, all the utilities, who are, in my experience in dealing with utilities, are a very special group of companies who are trying to do the right thing for Vermont,” Roisman said in a telephone interview Thursday. “That combination makes for just a tremendous opportunity to do good and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

According to the governor’s office, Roisman has worked as a consultant for attorneys on environmental litigation, public participation before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state regulatory agencies and on the admissibility of expert testimony in litigation. Continue Reading →

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Scott signs racial justice bill into law

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation into law Wednesday that looks to advance racial justice reforms in the state. The bill, H.308, which was passed by lawmakers earlier this month, aims to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice system. It creates a new, 13-member advisory panel within the office of the attorney general that will provide recommendations to address racial disparities in both the criminal and juvenile justice system around the state. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office and the Human Rights Commission are tasked with developing a strategy to address racial disparities within various state systems, including education, labor and employment, housing, healthcare and economic development. Finally, the new law requires the Criminal Justice Training Council to review the state’s fair and impartial policing policing to ensure it is in compliance with federal law. Continue Reading →

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Governor, lawmakers look to set ground rules for VEHI savings negotiation

MONTPELIER — As a June 21 veto session nears, Gov. Phil Scott and lawmakers are mired in negotiations over how negotiations should proceed on Scott’s desire to push all Vermont teachers into a uniform health care benefit to save money. Scott said at his weekly news conference Wednesday that legislative leaders reached out to him late last week about setting up a meeting to rekindle negotiations on his teacher health care savings plan. But Scott indicated he wasn’t interested in meeting with the group of lawmakers Democratic legislative leaders proposed. “It’s about the process at this point, just trying to set up a way for us to move forward so we’re not wasting our time and we have the right people in the room,” Scott told reporters. “We’re going to respond to them in writing and set some guidelines as to how I think this negotiation should work. Continue Reading →

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Scott vetoes pot legalization, offers path forward

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a marijuana legalization bill but said Wednesday he will reconsider signing it if lawmakers make changes during a veto session next month. Scott’s announcement at a news conference Wednesday ended days of speculation about the bill’s fate, but it opened the door to even more intense lobbying and campaigning in the weeks leading up to the June 21 veto session. It also halts — at least temporarily — the potential for Vermont to become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use through the legislative process. Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana, but all did so through voter referendums.

“I am returning this bill to the Legislature. I am, however, offering a path forward that takes a much more thorough look at what public health, safety and education policies are needed before Vermont moves toward a regulatory and revenue system for an adult-use marijuana market,” the governor said. Continue Reading →

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Scott selects Mullin, Usifer for Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott formally announced the appointment of Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin to serve as chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, along with Maureen Usifer, who will work alongside Mullin as another new member. Mullin, 58, of Rutland, is the current chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. He said Wednesday he will resign his Senate seat in the coming days to accept the appointment to the board. Mullin was appointed to the Senate in January 2003 and has won re-election every election cycle since then. He previously served three terms in the Vermont House. Continue Reading →

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Scott to veto pot legalization bill

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday he will veto a marijuana legalization bill sent to him by lawmakers for technical reasons but will reconsider signing it if lawmakers make some changes during a veto session next month. Scott’s announcement Wednesday ends days of speculation about the bill’s fate, but opens the door to even more intense lobbying and campaigning in the weeks leading up to the June 21 veto session. Scott, a first-term Republican was facing a midnight deadline. His five days of consideration were about to end after receiving the bill from the Legislature last week. He faced three options — sign it into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature. Continue Reading →

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Scott will tap Mullin to lead Green Mountain Care Board

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has chosen Rutland County Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin to be the next chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, according to several sources. Mullin, the current chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee, will resign his Senate seat in the coming days to accept the appointment to the board. Both Mullin and Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley declined to comment on the appointment Tuesday evening. Scott called Mullin Tuesday to inform him of the appointment, according to the sources. Other candidates who were interviewed but not selected have been informed in recent days. Continue Reading →

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