First – if you are still having issues with unemployment – please reach out to me – we have additional guidance on trying to assist you.
On Friday the Vermont House passed second reading of a “skinny” transitional budget for the first quarter of FY’ 21 with a roll call vote of 142-5. This First Phase/Transitional Budget bill provides spending authority to operate State Government in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, meeting statutory requirements while at the same time recognizing the need to address the projected substantial reduction in State revenues in fiscal year 2021 and beyond. This bill relies on language directing the use of funds,rather than having sections that include specific appropriations for each department and agency of State government. The full fiscal year 2021 budget will be developed in August and September of 2020, after the establishment of new official State revenue forecasts for fiscal year 2021 and 2022. We will be adjourning at the end of June and reconvening in August and September to take up the full budget.
This past week we passed a “Yield Bill” which is needed in order for municipalities to be able to establish tax rates. The Governor had proposed re-voting all school budgets later the Summer/Fall which would have been incredibly complicated. The bill keeps Yields and non homestead rates where they would have been prior to the pandemic and after school districts voted their budgets. It does this by not addressing a 133 million dollar anticipated shortfall in the education fund.
Why would we pass a bill that leave a large hole in place? Municipalities have to set their rates and get out their tax bills very soon. If the state does not set a Yield rate and non residential rate, then municipalities can’t set their rates and mail bills.
Why didn’t we fill the hole before setting the Yield? It is unclear exactly how much money will be missing from the Ed Fund. It appears preliminarily that the 1.25 billion in federal COVID funds cannot be used to back fall the Ed Fund. There are statutorily required reserves set aside for this type of situation. There is the possibility of short term borrowing. It is possible revenue may rebound. Regardless, the Ways & Means Committee wanted to send a signal to towns that they could set tax rates, and to property tax owners that they do not intend to raise rates. Stay tuned on that thinking….
The findings of the Weighting Study, and the need to address the underlying inequities and the dysfunction in the Education Fund were spoken to multiple times by myself, Rep. Scheuremann and others. The Yield Bill was purposefully created to be very narrow legislation and the Committee and the House were unwillingly to accommodate a larger conversation or a symbolic gesture proposed to express our intent to deal with these major constitutional issues. This issue will not be going away…
In the House Energy and Technology Committee on which I serve, we have been working to address connectivity issues that have become even more urgent in light of the pandemic – access to education, work, healthcare, the courts and commerce have all been limited by your access to the internet during the quarantine.
Our Committee is working on an outline and plan to use federal COVID funds to connect as many Vermonters and provide as much support for permanent solutions as possible prior to December 30th 2020 as currently required. This plan will come in the form of a recommendation letter to the house Appropriations Committee later this week – I will share that in my next update.
Many thanks to the local students, residents, business owners and visitors who organized and attended a peaceful demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement today in Wilmington and to the Wilmington Police Chief and his officers for their support and care to keep us all safe during the demonstration of support.
It is too easy in 95% white rural Vermont to be disconnected from this issue, to be blind to the injustice that people of color have endured for 100’s of years. It was not until I literally had to sit next to a black woman day in and day out that I was able to actually see the system of white privilege I had been lovingly encased in my entire life. How can you address racism if you never “see racism”? Here is one piece I read this week 4 Things Non-Black Families Can Do For Racial Justice
I will be chatting with folks on Wednesday at 5:30 and would love to hear from you!
Coffee with Laura call 5:30 pm on Wednesday.
You can join that call here:
Meeting ID: 734 376 857 Password: 003089 or by calling mobile
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GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT ANNOUNCES LIMITED INDOOR DINING RESTART AND OPENS SOME INTERSTATE TRAVEL
Montpelier, Vt. – As state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott announced the resumption of limited indoor seating at restaurants and bars and a data-driven approach to allow travel to and from designated areas without a 14-day quarantine requirement.
“One of the many things that Vermont is so well known for is our great local food and craft brews, so I know how important this sector is to our economy,” said Governor Scott. “I know we still have a very long way to go to help our restaurants get back on their feet but we’ve got to start somewhere and we’ll be able to build on this progress if our numbers continue to move in the right direction.”
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has issued health and safety requirements and procedures to allow limited indoor dining at restaurants and bars beginning on June 8. Occupancy is limited to 25% of legal capacity with distance requirements between tables. Other measures include reservation or call-ahead seating, disposable menus, no bar seating and more. The Governor’s order, signed today, also allows municipalities to enact more strict local guidance for restaurants and bars to address a localized outbreak of COVID-19.
Effective June 8, the Governor has also authorized interstate travel to and from New England and New York counties with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million without quarantine requirements. A map of the approved counties will be updated weekly and posted on ACCD’s website. Vermonters planning to travel to other states should understand that each state may have its own quarantine policy and they should be familiar with, and respect, the quarantine policies of those states.
Visitors will be required to register with Sara Alert for daily reminders from the Vermont Department of Health and must attest to meeting the travel requirements. Lodging occupancy limits will be increased to 50% or 25 total guests and staff, whichever is greater, and health, spacing, group size and hygiene requirements remain in place. Dining operations at lodging properties must remain at 25% capacity, per existing restaurant guidance.
Governor Scott also reported that, if the positive trends continue, quarantine requirements will be further eased in the coming weeks. “This first phase will still only be a small portion of our northeastern region but it’s a first step in this process and—in the coming weeks—we expect to further reduce quarantine requirements to get this important sector of our economy moving again, in a safe manner,” said Governor Scott.
updated guidance for the lodging, campgrounds and accommodations
Effective June 8, interstate travel to and from New England and New York counties with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million is permitted without quarantine requirements.
You can view weekly updates as to which counties are under this threshold at our Cross State Travel Information page.
Effective June 8, lodging operations may also increase occupancy limits to 50% or a total of 25 guests and staff, whichever is greater. Food service may only be offered in compliance with current restaurant guidance, which limits dining to 25% of capacity.
New quarantine requirements will go into effect on June 15:
- Travelers may either: Complete a 14-day quarantine; or complete a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test – in their home state and enter Vermont without further quarantine restrictions if they drive directly from their home via their personal vehicle.
- Travelers may either: Complete 14-day quarantine; or a 7-day quarantine followed by a negative test – in a Vermont lodging establishment regardless of destination origin or manner of travel (travelers must stay in their quarantine location for the duration of quarantine other than to travel to and from a test site).
With these updates, all guests will have to certify they are coming from a non-quarantine county or have completed the appropriate quarantine. They will also have to register with the Vermont Department of Health to receive Sara Alerts. More information on certification and alerts can be found at the ACCD website.
Please review the ACCD memo for full details including additional mandatory health and safety regulations.
Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Heather Pelham and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Ted Brady will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, June 9th from 3:00pm to 4:00pmto discuss implementing and understanding this new lodging sector guidance and the quarantine changes. You can access the meeting via Microsoft Teams or by dialing in at 802-552-8456 and using Conference ID: 268 050 211.
Following remarks, the Governor and administration officials will be available for questions from members of the media.
Monday June 8th at 11:00 a.m.
GENERAL PUBLIC VIEWING:Most Vermont TV and radio stations live broadcast the briefings. The Governor’s media briefing will be available to stream through ORCA Media’s youtube channel, linked here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-xsDpLCa0iRMj4dQrqum7uoXaQmqeGvT
Vote by mail house and senate
Prior to the Legislature leaving the statehouse in June, we passed a series of emergency bills over to the Senate in order to provide as much room to protect Vermonters during the pandemic as possible. One of the bills had allowed for the Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is statutorily required to supervise and certify elections, to “order or permit” mail in ballots for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of voters, elections workers, and candidates. That bill passed and was signed into law by the Governor in March.
Every word is important in statutory language, and rather then ask the Secretary of State to consult with the governor (who has a lot of power and responsibility in a declared emergency) about mail in voting, we asked that he and the governor agree. That is an unusual role for the governor, and not one he requested. While the governor has agreed to the concept of mail in voting, he wanted a panel to decide after the primary elections in August if it was necessary. Secretary Condos is in favor of making that decision sooner, and the governor has expressed repeatedly that he will not try to impeded mail in voting from happening.
Senate bill S.348 amends the previous bill to have the governor be consulted rather then having to agree. It passed the Senate and will be on the House floor this week.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham