Phil Scott

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Lawmakers pushing forward on budget deal

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott stood side-by-side with legislative leaders Wednesday morning to announce a deal on how to save property tax dollars on teacher health care plans, an issue that held up the end of the legislative session last month and led to vetoes of the state budget and property tax yield bill. Wednesday was the first of a scheduled two-day veto session after Scott, a Republican, vetoed the state budget and a the yield bill, which sets property tax rates, because lawmakers did not include his demand to save up to $26 million on the cost of teachers health care plans by, in part, creating a statewide negotiation for health benefits. The day began with Scott, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D-Chittenden, holding a State House news conference to tout the accord. Scott said the deal “will help the state achieve significant savings in the Education Fund” and “will set property tax rates at or below fiscal year 2017 levels.”

“The resolution reached is indeed a compromise, but it’s a good one that saves taxpayers millions. We found areas of common ground and we each gave on areas where there was none,” Scott said. Continue Reading →

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Governor, lawmakers strike budget deal on eve of veto session

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders struck a deal Tuesday to end a month-long impasse on the state budget and property tax bills as rank-and-file lawmakers prepared to return to the State House for a veto session Wednesday. The breakthrough on the eve of the veto session should pave the way for a relatively smooth process Wednesday. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said a new budget was being drafted and would likely be distributed to all rank-and-file members of the Legislature Tuesday night. “I feel like we have a strong compromise that … everybody will be able to say yes to. I think, conceptually, we’re agreed to stuff, which is a huge step forward from yesterday,” she told reporters Tuesday afternoon. Continue Reading →

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Soucy picked for Rutland County Senate seat

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has appointed Killington resident David Soucy to fill an open Senate seat in Rutland County, replacing Republican Kevin Mullin who was recently appointed as chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board. Soucy, 60, the head golf professional and general manager at Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, will be sworn in Wednesday morning ahead of a special legislative veto session. He will serve alongside Republican Sens. Peg Flory and Brian Collamore in the three-seat Rutland district. “I’m honored and humbled to be appointed by the governor and I look forward to getting to work,” Soucy told the Vermont Press Bureau late Monday afternoon. Soucy, who was one of three candidates put forth by the Rutland County Republican Committee for Scott’s consideration, said he received a call from Scott Monday informing him of the appointment. Continue Reading →

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Scott responds to legal pot compromise, expresses optimism

MONTPELIER — The Scott administration has accepted most of the changes lawmakers have suggested to a marijuana legalization bill vetoed by the governor, but is seeking some additional amendments to gain his support ahead of next week’s veto session. Kendal Smith, Gov. Phil Scott’s director of policy development and legislative affairs, sent a response late Wednesday to the changes proposed last week by Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown. “I think it’s workable,” Sears told the Vermont Press Bureau. “The response has generally been somewhat positive. A little confusion about some of the points he makes and trying to make sure we get it all right.”

“I don’t think that we’re so far apart that we can’t reach some kind of agreement,” Sears added. Continue Reading →

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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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