Dustin Degree

Recent Posts

House Dems take off gloves in budget battle

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 →

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Transition: A look at the Scott team

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov.-elect Phil Scott’s transition team is in full swing, working on a proposed state budget and developing policy proposals for his first term that will begin in early January. As of Tuesday afternoon, Scott’s transition team included 11 full-time staff and three part-time committee chairs overseeing various parts of the transition. Tim Hayward, who previously served as chief of staff to former Republican. Gov. Jim Douglas, is serving as the director of the transition team. According to Jason Gibbs, a former aide to Douglas also serving on the transition team, several people are involved in policy development, including Republican Franklin County Sen. Dustin Degree. Continue Reading →

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Senate votes to suspend McAllister

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate voted 20 to 10 Wednesday afternoon in an unprecedented vote to suspend Sen. Norm McAllister until criminal charges pending against him for sexual assault are resolved. “Nobody knows more than me the seriousness of these charges, these allegations. I’ve got people who want to put me in prison for the rest of my life. I’m very much aware what is at stake,” McAllister told his colleagues on the Senate floor before they voted to oust him. The historic vote came after more than an hour of discussion on the Senate floor, mostly by Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, and Republican Rutland County Sen. Peg Flory, a close friend and ally of McAllister. Continue Reading →

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Senate passes Election Day registration, defeats ID requirement

MONTPELIER — The Senate passed an election day registration bill Wednesday after defeating an amendment that would have required voters using the provision to provide voter identification. The legislation, which passed on a voice vote, would allow residents to register to vote on the day of an election. Under current law, a person who wants to cast a vote on Election Day must be registered to vote by the previous Wednesday. Proponents said the bill will provide greater access to voting booths for Vermonters. “I am extremely grateful to the Senate for taking up and passing Election Day voter registration with overwhelming support. Continue Reading →

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Election-day voter registration moves forward

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers are taking a step that could increase voter participation. By a vote of 20 to 7 Thursday afternoon, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow residents to register to vote on the day of an election. Currently, an individual who wishes to cast a vote on a Tuesday must have registered to vote by the previous Wednesday. “Those of us in this building spend a lot of time thinking about elections, but most people don’t,” said Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham. “People move or go into long-term care facilities in a town where they were not originally registered to vote and didn’t get engaged until the last moment. Continue Reading →

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