Rep. Sibilia: February 21 update

Good evening,

Some important updates on COVID-19 regulations, Department of Labor forms, and new relief.

Vermont DFR COVID-19 Modeling February 23, 2021

Effective February 23, 2021: If you have been vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine to travel to Vermont or return to Vermont, as long as at least 14 days have passed since you received your final vaccine dose.

On Monday, March 1st, Vermonters age 65 and above can make an appointment to receive their vaccination. Smith suggests going to healthvermont.gov/myvaccine in advance of Monday to register all your information so you just go in and pick an appointment when registration opens on Mon.


GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY TO MARCH 15

25 Days Until SPRING
Hidden in this photo taken today are daffodils, a gigantic burn pile, a large propane tank, a bean trellis and raised beds

Governor Phil Scott extended the COVID-19 State of Emergency to March 15, 2021as the State continues its distribution of vaccines to Vermonters most at risk of death. All previous addendums to the State of Emergency remain in place to continue to mitigate the spread of the virus and ensure economic protections remain in place.

“The State of Emergency remains a needed tool to help us manage and respond to the pandemic,” said Governor Phil Scott. “As we continue to vaccinate more Vermonters, prioritizing those most vulnerable to severe illness or death from COVID-19, I’m hopeful there won’t be too many more of these extensions and we’ll get back to some sense of normal.”

Click here to view the State of Emergency extension.

For more information on:


Quarantine and travel updates

New on healthvermont.gov According to current data, people are more likely to get COVID-19 through close contact to another case, and less likely to be associated with an outbreak. While we are still seeing outbreaks across the state, they are not as impactful as they were in October and early November. Learn more in in our latest Weekly Data Summary Spotlight.

New on healthvermont.gov According to current data, people are more likely to get COVID-19 through close contact to another case, and less likely to be associated with an outbreak. While we are still seeing outbreaks across the state, they are not as impactful as they were in October and early November. Learn more in in the latest Weekly Data Summary Spotlight.

Fully vaccinated people who travel to and from Vermont will no longer need to quarantine, effective tomorrow (Feb. 23). Fully vaccinated means it’s been at least two weeks since your final dose.

Travelers must be able to prove they have been fully vaccinated, Governor Phil Scott said at Friday’s press conference. He encouraged people to carry the federally-issued card they receive when they are vaccinated with them and be prepared to show it when asked.

Prepare for your vaccination by creating an online account now

Vermont is currently vaccinating people age 70 and older. But even if you are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, you can get a head start on the process now by creating your account in our online system. That way, it’ll be smooth sailing when it’s your turn to make an appointment for your first dose. Learn more at healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.

The state’s top priority remains ensuring that those 65+, and those with certain health conditions, are vaccinated as quickly as possible. At the current rate of vaccination, the Health Department expects to be substantially complete with the high-risk population in mid-April. By then, we expect to be able to provide a more detailed assessment of the path forward. With the understanding that things could certainly change.

Travel and Event Planning

For planning purposes, Vermonters are being told to expect that (providing science and data support) sometime this spring we will be back to gathering and travel guidance that is like (or better than) where we were last August. The current expectation that this spring both gathering and cross state travel restrictions will be loosened to the degree that would allow for many types of events and activities to take place.

ACCD guidance provided a path forward for events last summer, including capacity limits of 75 people indoors and 150 people outdoors, as well as for larger events if they were conducted using pods of participants. Event organizers and planners should use this as the baseline for this summer. Please review that guidance when planning and booking events, as it will be the starting point for future guidance updates.


VT DEPARTMENT OF LABOR PROVIDES UPDATE ON MAILING OF NEW 1099-G TAX FORMS TO UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMANTS

MONTPELIER – The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) is finalizing validation efforts this week and working with the Department of Buildings and General Services to print and mail new 1099-G tax forms by the beginning of next week to all 2020 unemployment insurance claimants.

This is a result of the processing issue that occurred on January 29, 2021, when a series of incorrect 1099-G tax forms were sent to unemployment insurance claimants from the Department of Labor. On February 1, 2021, the Department began receiving reports that some 1099-G documents contained information for different claimants. The Department of Labor immediately stopped all 1099-G mailing efforts, launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the processing issue, notified claimants and recalled all VDOL 1099-Gs, and began a plan to reissue new 1099-Gs to all 2020 claimants.

“We know claimants are eagerly awaiting their new 1099-Gs from the Department, and we want them to know they should expect them next week. Over the last couple weeks, teams from the Department of Labor and across state government, have worked to validate and review tax information before reissuing the 1099-G documents,” said Commissioner Michael Harrington. “Ensuring the information is the best it can be, has been our top priority.”

Claimants will receive a 1099-G form for each program they collected unemployment insurance benefits from during the 2020 calendar year. This means many claimants should expect multiple 1099-G forms if they collected benefits for most of the year, especially during the spring, summer and fall, and if their unemployment was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Labor administered nine different types of benefits through five different unemployment programs in 2020. Claimants can identify the program their 1099-G is for by using the code in the bottom left-hand corner of the tax document.

001-UI: This 1099-G represents regularUnemployment Insurance (UI) benefits received in 2020, including extended benefit weeks, and the additional $600 added to weekly benefits during April 4 through July 31.

002-PUA: This 1099-G represents Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits received in 2020, including the additional $600 added to weekly benefits during April 4 through July 31.

003-LWA: This 1099-G represents Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) benefits received in 2020. This was a federal program which provided an additional $300 per week to eligible unemployment insurance claimants between August 1 and September 5. This payment was mailed in a check, separate from weekly benefit payments. 

004-VSTS: This 1099-G represents Vermont Short Term Supplemental (VSTS) benefits received in 2020. This program provided an additional $100 per week to claimants between September 27 and October 31. This payment was mailed in a check, separate from weekly benefit payments.

005-TREAS: This 1099-G represents a one-time payment of $1,200 issued by the State on April 20.This was for Vermonters who had filed for unemployment insurance benefits between March 15 and April 4 but had not yet received any benefit payments.

Claimants had the option to have personal income taxes withheld when they enrolled in UI and PUA, however, taxes were not withheld from LWA, VSTS, or TREAS payments. That means claimants who received these benefits will need to pay state and federal income taxes on them.

Personal income tax returns are due to the IRS and Vermont Department of Taxes by Thursday, April 15, 2021. For taxpayers concerned about meeting the deadline, information can be found on the Department of Taxes’ website at tax.vermont.gov/individuals/file-and-pay/request-extension, including how to request an extension to file federal or state personal income tax returns.

The Department will continue to provide updates to claimants by letter, email, and social media. More information can also be found online at labor.vermont.gov/1099-incident-updates. Claimants who do not have access to the internet can contact the Unemployment Insurance Clamant Assistance Center at 877-214-3332 and select ‘Option 1’ for updates on the 1099-G issue.


New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations To Be Installed

Governor Phil Scott announced that 11 new plug-in electric vehicle (EV) fast-charge stations are scheduled to be installed across Vermont over the next two years. The charge stations will be located in Newport, Enosburgh, St. Johnsbury, Johnson, South Hero, Springfield, Fair Haven, Wilmington, Ludlow, Randolph and Rutland. The chargers will be a part of the Blink Network and available to all EV drivers. When these new stations are completed, nearly every Vermonter will be within 30 miles of a fast-charge station.

Some Texans use 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid pickup trucks to power homes amid winter storm
Randy Jones of Katy, Texas used his 2021 Ford F-150 to power space heaters and other appliances throughout his home when he lost power earlier this week during the winter storm. Source: Randy Jones

“Electric vehicles will play an important role in our efforts to combat climate change, and we’re working to make them more affordable and accessible for Vermonters,” said Governor Scott. “These new fast-charge stations will help more Vermonters drive electric by bringing EV technology to where Vermonters live, work and play. A highway corridor fast-charging network will also prepare Vermont for commercial travel and tourism as the transportation sector continues to electrify.” 

Vermont has the greatest number of EV stations in the nation per capita, with 114 public EV chargers per 100,000 people, and the number of registered EVs in Vermont has risen by 321 percent since 2015. The increase in the number of EVs highlights the urgent need to expand EV charging infrastructure in the state, increasing charger availability and filling gaps in the charging network.

“These new fast-charging options will provide up to 225 miles of range in 30 minutes, enabling more EV travel options across Vermont and beyond. Combined with incentives offering $10,000 or more toward eligible EV purchases, now is a great time to make the switch,” said David Roberts, the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator.

The 11 stations are made possible thanks to an agreement between Blink Charging and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) working collaboratively with the Agency of Natural Resources, the Agency of Transportation (AOT), the Public Service Department, and the Department of Health. The 11 new charging stations will cost $1.7 million and will be paid for using money from the Volkswagen settlement and administered by DHCD. The agreement builds on previous EV infrastructure development in Vermont. To date, the State of Vermont has invested $2.7 million from the Volkswagen settlement funds to install 86 level 2 and 16 fast charge stations.

The interagency team is working on another request for proposals for six more highway corridor fast-charging stations at strategic locations across the state. The next round will be funded with capital construction funds through AOT also administered by DHCD. DHCD manages the grant process, including developing requests for proposals, contracting and more. To learn about the State of Vermont’s EV charging funding programs, visit https://accd.vermont.gov/community-development/funding-incentives/electric-vehicle-supply-equipment-evse-grant-program . Information on electric vehicle incentives and charging options is available at https://www.driveelectricvt.com.


H. 315 COVID-19 Relief and Recovery for Vermont

The House Covid-19 Relief Bill advances spending to provide timely, critical assistance to Vermonters and businesses in Fiscal year 2021, needed as the result of the public health emergency and to advance projects to stimulate recovery. This will need be considered by the House this week and then will need to be agreed to by the Senate and the Governor. Proposals by the House include:

  • Economic Recovery Grants of $10 million general funds for Vermont businesses that experienced an economic loss due to the pandemic and did not meet the eligibility criteria for federal programs.
  • $10 million in CRF funds to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to provide shelter for persons at risk of experiencing homelessness or suffering economic harm due to the pandemic.
  • In the Department of Mental Health; provides $300,000 general funds for Emergency Outreach Service Grants; $4 million general funds for Housing Supports in community settings; $850,000 general funds to provide case management staff at the Designated and Specialized Service Agencies; and provides $150,000 general funds for training and wellness supports for front line health care workers.
  • $700,000 CRF for new Americans, refugees, and immigrants.
  • $1.3 million between general funds and CRF to the Department for Children and Families for families participating in the Reach Up program.
  • $1,376,000 CRF to the Vermont Food Bank to pay the costs of the Vermont Farmers to Families Food Box Program for the months of January and February 2021.
  • $100,000 general funds to the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to provide technology assistance to address social isolation.
  • $200,000 general funds for data collection and analysis regarding health equity and health disparities.
  • $15 million reallocated CRF to continue a school indoor air quality grant program with Efficiency Vermont.
  • $20 million general funds to support future legislative action regarding pension funding initiatives and prefunding of other postemployment benefits (OPEB).
  • $1 million reauthorized in the Department of Public Service from unexpended CRF for the COVID-Response Line Extension Customer Assistance Program established by Sec. 13of Act 137of 2020, and $1.2 million reauthorized CRF for the Connected Community Resilience Planning Program established by Sec. 14a of Act 137 of 2020.
  • $3 million general funds to the Agency of Agriculture, Food and markets for the Working Lands Program to allow early funding of projects.
  • Provides $10 million general funds to the Agency of Natural Resources of which $5 million is for the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation Vermont Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (VOREC) and $5 million is for the Central Office for investments to improve recreational infrastructure and access on State lands and Vermont’s trail network.
  • Includes annual language linking Vermont to the Federal tax statutes.

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Vermont House sessions

The public can also watch the Vermont House legislative sessions live or recorded videos – information below

Tuesday at 10:00 AM; Wednesday at 1:15 PM; Thursday at 1:15 PM; Friday at 9:30 AM (All times subject to change)


Latest OpEd from Representative Sibilia

Vermont’s unjust school funding system


As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss them.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or lsibilia@leg.state.vt.us. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com

Kind regards, 

Rep. Laura Sibilia 
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

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