Good evening, on Friday Governor Scott extended the State of Emergency until October 15. The latest COVID-19 modeling showed Vermont holding steady in management of spread even after college students returned. This is great news! Tomorrow (Tuesday 9/15) the Governor will be joined at his regular 11 am press conference by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
It appears the House and Senate have resolved their differences on the retail sale of cannabis this evening. This means a vote is likely this week on the agreement.
Act 250 legislation has been stripped down to a handful of proposals for trails and keeping forests intact. Unfortunately the deeply needed customer service aspects and consistent application and technical assistance aspects of this bill have also been removed along with removing barriers to growth in downtown and village centers.
Legislators and representative organizations and associations from across the education system are asking for legislators to take action on ADM counts (how students will be counted) during the pandemic. Student counts are a key factor in building budgets to provide educational opportunity and managing tax rates. During a joint hearing of the Ways and Means Committee and Education Committees, representatives talked about an unwillingness to create a legislative fix, fearing possible amendments that would be germane to a bill dealing with student counts (weights). We will continue to try and get ADM fixed during this legislative session.
With the passage of the budget by the House, this special session is likely to draw to an end in the next two weeks after passage of the budget by the Senate.
House Passes remaining 3/4 FY 21 Budget
Last week the House passed a remaining 3/4 year budget for FY 21. The bill now goes to the Senate and when work is completed will come back to the House for a vote. When the budget passes, this emergency session of the legislature will end. Here is H.969 As Introduced. Below are links to additional budget documents:
From the Appropriations Committee’s FY21 Big Bill Highlights Sheet:
Vermont, as well as every other State around the country, is experiencing the dual challenge of revenues becoming less certain while, at the same time, the needs of the people are increasing. This is truly an unprecedented time for all of us and it has amplified the critical importance of the programs the State administers for the benefit of Vermonters. The budget bill makes several strategic investments to minimize the impact of this epidemic on the people of the State by appropriating federal Corona virus Relief Funds (CRF). This is a balanced budget that is consistent with House spending priorities, keeps reserves full, invests in local economies, does not cut programs, and preserves services to vulnerable Vermonters. Among key spending priorities are the following:
- Provides $23,800,000 State funds to provide bridge funding to the Vermont State Colleges to allow the system to restructure and implement changes for the 2021/2022 academic year
- Adds $293,339 for Micro-Business Development Program and $170,301 for the Matched Savings and Financial Capabilities Program (formerly IDA’s)
- Adds language to ensure equal access to appropriate mental health care equivalent to other aspects of health care by integrating public funding for inpatient mental health care services with funding for other health care services within the DVHA budget
- Funds the Community High School of Vermont with General Funds rather than Education Funds
- Adds $100,000 for grant writing technical assistance to Vermont Housing Conservation Board in the base budget
- Funds Retirement/OPEB obligations for State employees and teacher’s retirement
- Provides $1,500,000 General Funds and $1,500,000 Corona virus Relief Funds for a total of $3,000,000 to the Department of Public Service for grants to Communication Union Districts (CUD’s)
- Provides $250,000 to the Department of Public Service to develop a long-term telecom plan for a total of $750,000
- Provides $400,000 General Funds for Downtown Tax Credits for a total of $3,000,000
- Provides funds to purchase a warning siren in case of a breach of the Chittenden Reservoir
- Funds maintenance and other needs of the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation
- Restores $40,000 to Outright Vermont in base budget for level funding from FY 2020 of $60,000
- Adds language providing a waiver to the required number of school days for the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19
- Adds language waiving the requirement that teachers obtain a license to teach on-line courses
- Provides $1,000,000 Transportation Funds for new Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentive Program
- Adds $500,000 Transportation Funds for incentives to increase public transit ridership
- Funds $162,000 for the Court Diversion program in response to lost revenue due to COVID-19
- Creates a waiver for new enlistees in VT National Guard who would like to attend college funded with the VT National Guard Tuition Benefit Program but have not completed basic training due to COVID-19 related issues.
- Following priorities of the House, invested $360,140 in Vermont’s justice system
- Invests $2,000,000 in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) by aligning the program eligibility with current federal poverty guidelines and aligning provider rates in accordance with the five-year plan to increase access to high-quality affordable childcare for working families. Adds $613,000 to keep CCFAP eligibility determination and referral in the community.
Equity Assistance for Immigrants
H. 968-An act relating to the Vermont Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Equity Program As passed by the House Committee on Appropriations. The proposal passed the House and would establish the Vermont Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Equity Program. To be eligible for the program, applicants must certify that they:
- are a resident of Vermont;
- were ineligible to receive an economic impact payment under the federal CARES Act due to reasons of immigration status; and
- had an adjusted gross income of less than $99,000.00 in taxable year 2019or,if filing jointly, an adjusted gross income of less than $198,000.00 in taxable year 2019.
Provides same level of federal impact status regardless of immigration status. Passed by “voice vote” and now is being considered by the Senate. Why is the policy being supported by the Governor and legislature?
- Federal policy is to help families get through difficult time and provide stimulus
- Most of the Vermonters that are eligible for this are essential workers
- Attempt to treat all Vermonters equitably no matter there circumstances
Miscellaneous Judiciary Procedures
This week the legislature also passed S.234 MISCELLANEOUS JUDICIARY PROCEDURES. Here is a section by section summary as passed by the House S.234 is the annual Judiciary Committee miscellaneous bill. Each year this bill makes technical corrections and assorted minor changes to the statutes related to criminal and civil court and judiciary procedures. During the legislative adjournment the courts and other state agencies send their requests for the miscellaneous bill to Legislative Counsel. These proposals are compiled with other issues noted for technical correction by legislative counsel or brought to the attention of legislators, and then all of the measures are combined into the miscellaneous bill.
DMV Online Registrations Now Available
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced the launch of a new online system for temporary registrations and license plates for private vehicle sales.
The online system allows for the issuance of a temporary plate and registration for all types of vehicles that are sold, transported and registered in Vermont. Users will enter the owner and vehicle information, the system will verify, and then the user will be asked to certify, pay a $6 fee, and print the temporary plate and registration. Temporary plates and registrations are valid for 60 days and can be used for inspection of the vehicle, if required.
In addition to vehicle registrations, the DMV has implemented several new services throughout the COVID-19 State of Emergency, including online license renewals and online learner’s permit tests and modified driver’s license tests.
For more information and to access the new registration system, please visit https://bit.ly/DMVTempReg.
You’ve probably received this postcard from the @USPS about voting. In #VT you DO NOT have to request a ballot – one will automatically be mailed to you. Please do follow the advice to plan ahead for your ballot return by mail, drop off or in person voting!Tweet from Vermont Secretary of State Twitter Account
Vermont Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2020 Inductees
Essex Junction, VT – The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the 2020 inductees. Now in its 18th year, the Hall has inducted 85 Vermonters to date. Some 20 Vermonters were nominated for consideration for the 2020 Vermont Ag Hall of Fame. Due COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of the 2020 Champlain Valley Fair, the 2020 inductees will be celebrated the 2021 Champlain Valley Fair lunch; along with those inducted in 2021.
2020 Lifetime Achievement: This category recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement, improvement, or development of Vermont agriculture over the course of their long career. Nominees shall have played an active role in Vermont agricultural issues for at least 30 years.
- Harold J. Howrigan, Dairy farmer, Sheldon.
- Jacques and Pauline Couture, Missisquoi Valley Farm, Couture’s Maple Shop and B&B Westfield, Vt.
- Alan Curler, (deceased) Agriculture lender, consultant, AI technician, herdsman and farmhand in New Haven, Vt.
2020 Emerging Leader: This category highlights individuals who are stepping up to become the next generation of agricultural leaders in Vermont. Age 40 or younger, these individuals demonstrate a deep commitment to Vermont’s working landscape and are poised to lead Vermont’s agriculture community into the future.
Abbie Corse, Dairy farmer in Whitingham.
About the Inductees
Emerging Leader: Abbie Corse of Whitingham is a sixth-generation dairy farmer who works alongside her parents Leon and Linda on the family’s 270-acre farm in Whitingham. She is the farm’s successor and is instrumental in guiding the future of Corse Dairy Farm in a sustainable direction.
Organic and sustainable farming has always been important to Abbie. She helped her parents transition Corse Dairy Farm to organic in 2008 on the 140th anniversary of the farm, and in 2013 helped secure a permanent conservation easement for the land through the Vermont Land Trust. She promoted the 2016 solar array on the barn roof which now provides nearly all the farms’ electricity.
She was instrumental in convincing her father to become Vermont’s first Dairy Grazing Master, as part of the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, where he mentors beginning farmers. She is very involved in hosting and training the apprentices.
Abbie is also involved with a number of agricultural and environmental organizations, including the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board,/Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Advisory Board, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Dairy Advisory Council, and the Vermont Act 250 District 2 Environmental Commission. She also serves on the board of directors for Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA). She is the only dairy farmer on the board. In 2019, Abbie was recognized as one of Vermont’s 40 most accomplished young leaders under the age of 40 by Vermont Business Magazine, receiving its Rising Stars Award. She is the only dairy farmer to ever have received the award.
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. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham