Current News

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by Devon Green, VP of Government Relations, VAHHS Last week, the policy committees heard from organizations making their cases for funding. VAHHS put a twist on this process by advocating not for themselves, but for strengthening our post-acute care system, including skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. In our letter to the House Human Services, House Health Care, and House Appropriations Committees, VAHHS noted that as of February 6th there were 142 individuals waiting to be discharged from hospitals and 28 patients waiting for beds in emergency departments. 

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Vermont Business Magazine Average gasoline prices in Vermont are $3.19 per gallon, down 0.7 cents per gallon from last week's $3.20/g, as prices in Vermont, and even across the US, have stubbornly resisted volatility. The lowest price in the state yesterday was $2.94/g while the highest was $3.39/g, a difference of 45.0 cents per gallon. The national average price of gasoline has risen 5.2 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.17/g today. 

 

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by Lauryn Katz, Community News Service Ashley Swainbank and her mother, Nancy Kane, speak fondly of Petunia, the little Jersey heifer who made it after the family, owners of Kane’s Scenic River Farms in Sheldon, fought for two weeks to save her life. They remember Pepper, too, Swainbank’s favorite calf. The pair of cows were two of 75 who died after a fire broke out the morning of Jan. 20 and turned a 400-foot-long barn, once home to about 500 replacement heifers, into a pile of rubble and ash. When Swainbank rushed that morning to open the frozen barn doors, she feared it was a bad idea. “We’re never catching them again,” she thought. 

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Vermont Business Magazine On February 13, nearly 200 students from 17 Vermont high schools representing the state’s youth-led movements to reduce youth vaping and smoking prevalence – Our Voices Xposed (OVX) and Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) – will march with supporters and community partners through downtown Montpelier to the Statehouse for a rally against the dangers of youth vaping and tobacco use.

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by Joyce Marcel, Vermont Business Magazine Lindsay DesLauriers’s story is a family story as much as it is a business story. The beloved Bolton Valley Ski Resort, of which she is CEO and president, was founded and developed by her father, Ralph DesLauriers, in the 1960s on land owned by his farmer father. Just 30 minutes from Burlington, the idea was to have a workingman’s resort where people could ski after work. Its night skiing is still famous today. And in an era of consolidated ski resorts owned by out-of-state corporations, a family-run ski resort is a treasured rarity. Growing up on the mountain. DesLauriers, 44, does not remember a time when she couldn’t ski.

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by Holly Sullivan, Community News Service Laura Derriendinger wants to protect Vermont children from social media, or as she defined it to Senate education committee members Jan. 26, “a toxic rabbit hole.” S.284, which would dramatically limit the use of electronic devices, digital platforms and more in all Vermont schools. The bill has drawn testimony across several committee meetings in recent weeks, including from high-profile voices such as Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark. If passed, the bill would require schools to create policies banning student use of personal smart devices and cellphones, prohibit teachers and school officials from using social media in lessons or for announcements and allow students to opt out of using electronic devices, the internet and more. The latter policies would be developed by districts and require schools to provide students alternative activities or instruction methods.   

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by Steven Berbeco, Mental Health Initiative Director, United Way of Northwest Vermont You can’t talk about education today without also talking about mental health. Our schools are on the frontlines of the youth mental health crisis. However, the level of emergency that we can see is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a few things that we know about youth mental health in schools. We know that there are more than 80,000 students in Vermont. We know that there are only 200 licensed school counselors. But there is a lot we don’t know, a lot submerged beneath that iceberg. For instance, we know that in 2021 about half of all the high school girls in Vermont reported poor mental health, and about 1 in 5 had made a suicide plan. We know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among Vermonters aged 15 to 34. But what we don’t know is what resources those kids had available to help keep them safe.  

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by Dr. Darrick Hamilton Recently, Vermont State Treasurer Mike Pieciak, Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale, and Representative Daniel Noyes introduced a ‘Baby Bonds’ initiative, a program that would invest $3,200 for every low-income Vermont child born on Medicaid. Those investments would grow with each child, becoming available at young adulthood for wealth-building purposes. As an economist, I helped design the concept of Baby Bonds as a means of generating wealth and granting financial independence — a tool for individuals to escape the iterative confines of systemic asset poverty.  

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Vermont Business Magazine As part of MENTOR Vermont’s annual Youth Mentoring Celebration, Senator Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, from Danville, Vermont, received their first State Legislator of the Year Award. Senator Kitchel has served in the Vermont Legislature as a Senator since 2005 and as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2011. In 2023, she was instrumental in ensuring that the Vermont mentoring field, through MENTOR Vermont, received their first significant increase in state funding since 2007. This increase allowed MENTOR Vermont to provide significantly more funding to mentoring programs this school year and to match more Vermont youth with mentors.

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Vermont Business Magazine Mercy Connections has announced that Mari McClure as the recipient of its 2024 Catherine McAuley Award. Each year, Mercy Connections’ Board of Directors selects a person who exemplifies community leadership and service in the example of Catherine McAuley, a 19th century leader dedicated to social justice and founder of the Sisters of Mercy. McClure is the President and CEO of Green Mountain Power and is an inspiring team leader committed to helping Vermont. The award will be presented at the nonprofit’s annual “Power of Connection” event on Tuesday, May 7, at Hula in Burlington. 

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Horse Council is preparing to host equine professionals, business owners, and organizations at its 6th Equine Industry Summit to be held on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) in South Woodstock, Vermont. The conference provides an opportunity for equine professionals to hear from industry experts from the Vermont Farm Bureau, the Vermont Law School, and the Vermont Dept of Tourism & Marketing. The keynote speaker, equestrian legend Denny Emerson, kicks off the event, followed by five sessions featuring seven speakers. The sessions focus on the role of equine businesses in agriculture, tourism, trail access, and identifying industry-wide priorities.

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Leonine Public Affairs Legislative priorities for 2024 are beginning to take shape as policy committees have moved beyond the introduction and review phase that generally marks the first few weeks of the session. The Joint Rules committee set March 15 and March 22 as crossover deadlines for policy and money bills respectively, solidifying the time frame for committees to finish work on their priority bills. The crossover deadline is the date by which a bill needs to pass out of the last committee of reference in time to be taken up by the opposing chamber in the same  session. Crossover during the second year of a biennium is particularly important, as bills will not carry over into the next legislative session.