Leonine Public Affairs The 2018 legislative session started on Wednesday, January 3 and legislators wasted no time getting to work. The House Judiciary Committee voted to move the marijuana legalization bill to the House floor in the morning of the first day of the session. The bill was debated at length and several amendments were offered over the course of the morning. All this occurred before Governor Phil Scott delivered the State of the State address at 2 pm on Thursday.
Vermont Business Magazine The Burlington Electric Department has announced that it entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Great River Hydro, LLC for renewable hydroelectric power from Great River Hydro’s Bellows Falls hydroelectric facility on the Connecticut River with back-up power available from both Great River Hydro’s Vernon and Wilder hydro facilities. The two-year agreement, which commenced on January 1, 2018, will deliver 7.5 megawatts of Vermont-produced electricity to Burlington Electric’s 100 percent renewably-sourced portfolio.
Vermont Business Magazine US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) Friday for his efforts to end seven years of budget agreements regarding parity for defense and non-defense spending. Sanders feared that McConnell was pushing the Senate toward a government shutdown with his efforts to end these longstanding bipartisan agreements.
Leonine Public Affairs The start of the 2018 legislative session in Vermont began earlier this week. The session kicked off on Wednesday, January 3, and if there is an overarching theme that will define discussions next year it is the uncertainty in Washington, DC, and the potential for actions taken by the Trump Administration and Congress to impact the state. Legislative leadership held a press conference in December to identify their priorities for the upcoming session, which include clean water funding, mental health, marijuana legalization, and several labor-related bills.
The Vermont Department of Labor’s Employer Services and Program Integrity Units within the Unemployment Insurance Division are currently experiencing technical issues involving the public phone lines for both Units. The Department of Labor is currently working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible; however, in the interim, callers will be unable to get through using 802-828-4333 or 802-828-4344. Employers and members of the public are being asked to use the Department’s General Line,802-828-4000, Option 1, to reach the Unemployment Insurance Division.
Vermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims are still on the rise as holiday hiring results in holiday firing. Volatility is typical this time of year. Claims edged above numbers from the same time last year; for most weeks of 2017, including the last several months, claims have registered below the year before. For the week of December 30, 2017, there were 1,570 claims, 247 more than than they were last week and 39 more than they were a year ago. Altogether 6,134 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 879 from a week ago, but 1,143 fewer than a year ago.
Vermont Business Magazine Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable has announced the recipient of the Roundtable’s 2017 New Medallion Award, which recognizes exceptional school leadership and progress toward the state’s goals of equity, access, and quality of proficiency-based learning experiences for all Vermont students.
Vermont Business Magazine Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc (NYSE: BHLB), the parent of Berkshire Bank, today announced additional investments in its employees and communities following the recent passage of federal tax reform legislation. Berkshire is the second bank with Vermont branches this week to increase its employee benefits and charitable giving in response to the new federal tax code. Citizens Bank has also announced a similar plan.
Vermont Business Magazine As expected, the House Thursday evening passed legislation that legalizes the possession of marijuana on a vote of 81-63. Democrats had worked out a deal with Governor Phil Scott during the fall to find common language for a bill that would make small amounts of pot possession (under an ounce) and production (two plants) legal, while finding suitable deterrents to driving under the influence and keeping it away from kids. The Senate previously had passed the measure, but must review the rewritten language, likely next week.
Vermont Business Magazine Vermont is about to experience round two of a bitter cold snap that is affecting much of the northeast. Sub-zero temperatures and strong winds are in the future again this weekend and the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for parts of Vermont where wind chills are expected between 20 and 40 below zero. With weather like this forecasted, it’s important that Vermonters take steps to stay safe and warm.
by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott delivered the 2018 State of the State address Thursday, highlighting progress made in 2017, and recommitting to an agenda focused on economic growth and affordability, while protecting the vulnerable. He got his loudest applause and most sustained standing ovation when he declared that Vermont could lead the way, as it has so many times in different ways, in bringing civility back to the public discourse, both political and personal. The governor also promised to hold the line on taxes, including the property tax, which could increase 7 percent if education spending isn't curbed.
Vermont Business Magazine Green Mountain Power is preparing for strong wind expected late this afternoon and tonight that could cause power outages. Damaging weather is expected across the state, and especially in southeastern areas. With severely cold temperatures expected to follow, GMP urges customers to be safe and prepared.