Heidi Scheuermann

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Lawmakers, distillers concerned with Liquor commissioner’s comments

MONTPELIER — Comments made by Vermont Department of Liquor Control Commissioner Patrick Delaney earlier this week are raising concerns among some lawmakers that he disparaged the state’s fledgling distillery industry. Delaney testified Tuesday before the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee regarding proposed changes to Vermont’s liquor laws. Delaney was speaking about legislation proposed by Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, when he told the committee that distilled spirits, typically referred to as hard alcohol, are used solely for a person to get drunk. “In my point of view, there’s only one reason to drink distilled spirits. It’s not because of the finish, … it’s not because of the aromatic nuances. Continue Reading →

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House passes budget plan with just one no vote

MONTPELIER — Tax and spending bills in the Vermont House received broad, tri-partisan support on the floor for the first time in many years as the body agreed to balance a projected state budget gap without raising taxes and fees. Majority Democrats secured the support of Republicans and managed to hold onto left-leaning Progressives as they crafted a budget bill that cuts into existing services. The House gave preliminary approval to the annual tax bill on a 138 to 0 vote Thursday morning, followed by preliminary approval of a 2018 fiscal year state budget on a 143 to 1 vote later in the afternoon. The House’s tax bill does not create any new taxes or fees, nor does it raise existing ones. It does raise about $5 million in revenue, however, by counting on better compliance from Vermonters, which was enough to gain the support of the entire GOP caucus. Continue Reading →

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Vail to buy Stowe ski operations for $50 million

MONTPELIER — Stowe Mountain Resort, one of the state’s most iconic ski areas, is slated to be sold to Colorado-based Vail Resorts for $50 million in a deal that could reshape the ski industry in Vermont and throughout New England. The two companies announced the deal Tuesday morning, but it is subject to state approval in Vermont. The sale, which before Tuesday had been a persistent rumor for months, is expected to close in the next several months. Vail will acquire all of the assets related to Stowe’s ski operations from AIG Global Real Estate, including base area skier services such as food and beverage, retail and rental equipment, lift ticket offices and ski and snowboard school facilities at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Other assets, including the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe Country Club and other real estate will be retained by Mt. Continue Reading →

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Vermont officials push back on Trump orders with legislation

MONTPELIER — Vermont state officials flexed their muscles Thursday, unveiling proposed legislation to prevent law enforcement agencies in Vermont from cooperating with federal authorities on immigration enforcement in response to executive orders from Republican President Donald Trump. Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, appeared at a news conference Thursday with Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and a tri-partisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate in an extraordinary show of cooperation. They worked collaboratively to craft legislation they say will address the federal government’s “overreach” in a series of executive orders signed by the president. Scott has emerged as one of the highest-profile Republican governors to buck Trump’s efforts to boost immigration enforcement and enhance border security. “We can’t pick and choose what pieces of the Constitution we defend and that is why we are here today,” the governor said. Continue Reading →

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Independent contractor bill gets new lease on life

MONTPELIER — A bill seeking to clarify who can be classified as an independent contractor by employers was recalled to the House floor Thursday by Democrats after they got wind of a Republican effort to do the same. The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development passed the bill out of committee unanimously in March, but was it recommitted to the committee after House Speaker Shap Smith said the bill would face opposition on the House floor and had a slim chance of passing in the Senate. The issue has been brewing for several years, but legislation clarifying the difference between an employee and an independent contractor has never made it to the finish line. Representatives of labor and business groups have been unable to find common ground. On Thursday, Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, was preparing to make a motion to relieve the committee of the bill and return it to the House. Continue Reading →

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Concern raised with off session legislative work

MONTPELIER — Vermont has always had a part-time Legislature comprised of ordinary, civic-minded Vermonters, but one representative says that characteristic is threatened by the growing level of engagement outside of the regular legislative sessions. Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, a Republican, took to social media Friday to lament the extensive work performed by some legislative committees since the official session ended in mid-May. “Is anybody else as frustrated as I with the amount of legislative activity that has happened since our May 16th adjournment? Report, after report, after report has legislative committees meeting and conducting legislative work just about full-time,” Scheuermann wrote. “While there have always been some summer study committees during the off session, I have never seen the amount of legislative work being conducted as I am seeing this year.”

Is anybody else as frustrated as I with the amount of legislative activity that has happened since our May 16th… Continue Reading →

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House gives final approval to school district consolidation bill

MONTPELIER — A bill that proposes to merge school districts and potentially cap education spending is on its way to the Senate. House lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would create larger school districts — voluntarily or involuntarily — and cap future education spending if it increase more than it did when voters approved their school budgets in March. The spending cap component of the bill — created through an amendment from Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, and approved by House lawmakers Wednesday — would trigger a 2-percent spending cap in 2017 and 2018 if the statewide average education spending increase in 2016 exceeds 2.95 percent, the average rate of growth for budgets approved by voters last month. As they did Wednesday, lawmakers offered a host of amendments to the bill. Rep. Christopher Pearson, P-Burlington, made a motion to reconsider the Buxton amendment. Continue Reading →

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Senator’s letter to resorts rankles ski industry, fellow lawmakers

MONTPELIER — A state senator has sent a letter to each of the seven ski resorts utilizing state land asking them to renegotiate leases, but the closing paragraph he included has some lawmakers concerned he has issued a thinly-veiled threat to raise their taxes if they do not agree. Chittenden County Sen. Tim Ashe, a Democrat and the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, sent the letters on Senate letterhead last week to Bromley, Okemo, Killington, Stowe, Smuggler’s Notch, Burke and Jay Peak. He signed each letter as chairman of Senate Finance. Ashe’s letters follow the release of a report by State Auditor Doug Hoffer last month that found the resorts’ lease payments to the state have not kept pace with the resorts’ economic growth. The long-term leases with the resorts range between 50 and 100 years. Continue Reading →

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House members pitch new exchange proposal

MONTPELIER — A bipartisan group of House members are pushing a new proposal to move the state away from Vermont Health Connect, but the consequences remain unclear if the state were to adopt the proposal. On Thursday, Reps. Patti Komline, R-Dorset, Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, Jim Condon D-Colchester, and Adam Greshin, I-Warren, called for the state to transition from Vermont Health Connect to a Supported State-Based Marketplace Exchange. Oregon and Nevada have adopted the hybrid state-federal model after their state-based exchanges faced significant problems.

Vermont’s exchange, which also experienced significant tech challenges and is still not fully functional, allows some individuals to sign up for insurance plans through the website. But other individuals and all small businesses are enrolling through a paper process. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers launch new PAC

MONTPELIER — A pair of moderate lawmakers — one a Democrat, the other a Republican — have launched a nonpartisan PAC aimed at electing candidates that seek “fiscal responsibility” and “balanced, common-sense public policies.”

Reps. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, and Paul Ralston, D-Middlebury, who is not seeking reelection, announced the new political action committee, Vision to Action Vermont, on Monday. The duo, who have worked together on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee for the past four years, say they want to “encourage economic prosperity, greater opportunities for Vermont families and businesses, and individual liberties and responsibility.”

“I am very excited to launch this new endeavor,” Scheuermann, who flirted with a run for governor earlier this year, said in a press release. “For many years, I have advocated strongly for a long-term, comprehensive strategy for economic growth in Vermont, and this organization will help bring that focus to the forefront.”

Ralston said November’s election is key, with lawmakers set to tackle health care, property taxes and “taxes in general” during the next legislative biennium that will have an impact on the state’s small businesses and families. “We must be sure that those in elected positions address those issues thoughtfully and independently, and with an eye toward the benefits and consequences to our economy,” he said in the release. Continue Reading →

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