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Editorial: Bickering in the Legislature grabbed headlines, but a lot of good prevailed

Posted on May 16, 2013 |
By Angelo Lynn



While the legislative session was dominated by a gnashing of teeth over cuts to the $1.3 billion General Fund budget and proposed tax increases, creating a clash between the Democrat-Progressive controlled Legislature and Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, it was also a session that produced several significant advances — including several social-cultural milestones and ended with a balanced budget without tax increases on income or sales.

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Opinion: Should Legislature have access to tax returns

Posted on May 16, 2013 |
By William Sayre



This week’s writer is William Sayre of Bristol, an economist formerly with the Federal Reserve and a commentator on Ethan Allen Institute’s Common Sense Radio, broadcasting from WDEV radio in Waterbury.

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Editorial: Legislature shouldn't let groundwork lay fallow

Posted on May 9, 2013 |
By Angelo Lynn



Despite a legislative session that seemed geared to raise several broad-based taxes, news this week suggests that Gov. Peter Shumlin will get what he wanted: the appearance of holding the line on taxes in the face of a lot of red-ink at the start of the session. The somewhat unexpected turnaround this week was helped by better than expected tax receipts for the month of April (and a rosier than expected forecast for the rest of the year), and a proposed federal tax on internet sales that, if passed, could yield $15 million to $20 million for the state annually.

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Vermont driving bill tied to national immigration issue

Posted on April 25, 2013 |
By Xian Chiang-Waren



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Advocates for Vermont’s migrant laborers know that a driver’s license bill, such as the one being considered by the Vermont Legislature, is a short-term solution to what is ultimately a federal problem. Few would dispute that the dairy industries in states like Vermont have been saved by migrant labor, but the federal government does not offer a visa program to supply labor-strapped dairy farms with legal, documented foreign workers, like the H-2A visa does for seasonal agricultural work.

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House ag committee to consider hemp farming bill

Posted on April 22, 2013 |
By John Flowers



WEYBRIDGE — A bill that could pave the way for the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture to develop a procedure for issuing licenses to farmers interested in growing industrial hemp was discussed at the legislative breakfast in Weybridge last Monday, April 15.

The bill, H.490, is in the House Agriculture Committee. Local Reps. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven, and Will Stevens, I-Shoreham, are members of that committee.

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Final vote in Legislature nears on search and rescue bill

Posted on April 22, 2013 |
By Cindy Hill



MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate Government Operations Committee last Wednesday unanimously approved the Search and Rescue Bill, H.182, clearing the way for its passage in the full Senate as early as this week. However, the Vermont House must approve amendments made by the Senate committee before the new search and rescue protocol can be signed into law by the governor.

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Editorial: Shorelands development bill: A problem of scale

Posted on April 11, 2013 |
By Angelo Lynn



One of the problems with H.526 is of scale. The focus and intent is clearly aimed at cleaning up the vast waters of Lake Champlain, which receives the drainage of thousands of acres of farmland, residential lawns and vast urban development. But when this same legislation is applied to tiny Sunset Lake in Orwell or the long-developed shores of Lake Dunmore, or many other similar lakes in Vermont, the legislation’s intent could well miss the mark and cause more injury than good.

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Lakeshore residents blast bill

Posted on April 11, 2013 |
By John Flowers



SHOREHAM — Some lakeshore property owners on Monday urged the county’s two state senators to reject a bill that would set up a new regulatory hurdle for people seeking to develop property within 250 feet of lakes or ponds with more than 10 acres of surface area.

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Lawmakers get an earful from citizens on shoreline bill, soda taxes

Posted on April 4, 2013 |
By Xian Chiang-Waren



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BRIDPORT — Lawmakers and several dozen Addison County citizens gathered at the Bridport Community Hall for a legislative lunch on agricultural issues, but the hot-button issues discussed over the meal were not directly related to agriculture.

Rather, citizens in attendance wanted to pick legislators’ brains over a controversial shoreline conservation bill, H.526, which netted statewide attention after clearing the House late last week, and over a tax package that would lift the tax exemption on items including bottled water, soda, candy and dietary supplements.

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Weatherization bill faces hurdles, funding still up in the air

Posted on March 28, 2013 |
By John Flowers



MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont House has moved along a bill that promotes the weatherization of citizens’ homes, but it remains unclear whether lawmakers will be able to assemble the necessary funding to help pay for the initiative.

The House last week voted 109-27 in favor of sending bill H.520 along to the Senate. That bill sets the state on a path to weatherize 80,000 Vermont homes by the year 2020, acknowledging that many abodes are porous and are losing costly heating resources to the outdoors.

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