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Immigration issue splits House GOP caucus

MONTPELIER — The Vermont House advanced legislation aimed at preventing local law enforcement from participating in federal immigration enforcement in a vote that split the Republican caucus with half going against a popular governor from their own party. The bill, S.79, has been pushed by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and a tripartisan group of lawmakers in response to executive orders signed by President Donald Trump dealing with immigration and border security. It received preliminary approval in the House Tuesday on a 110-24 vote, with 24 Republicans voting against it. The bill originated in the Senate where it passed 30-0 and was unchanged by the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Chip Conquest, D-Newfane, the vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told his colleagues the legislation is “not about immigration” at the state level. Continue Reading →

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Republicans react to budget address

MONTPELIER – Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s budget address Thursday drew both praise and criticism from lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. Republican legislators praised initiatives that they claimed to be their own, while continuing to hammer Shumlin on the budget and the nearly $100 million shortfall. Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, took issue with raising the payroll tax as a method to leverage more money for Medicaid. “We’re in a really tough budget year. Everybody knows that, so when you hear a budget that is still relying on federal money, is still relying on another tax, that becomes problematic to me,” Benning said. Continue Reading →

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