Leonine Public Affairs The second week of the 2022 legislative session started with big news relating to the state’s pension funds. On Monday, the Pension Benefits, Design, and Funding Task Force unanimously approved recommendations to fix the state's underfunded pension system. The Task Force includes members from the legislature, the Scott Administration, labor organizations and the Office of the State Treasurer. The Task Force agreement would require the state to make a $200 million payment toward the system’s debt and use 50 percent of future general fund surpluses to support the fund. Member contributions would also increase and benefit plans would be scaled back. The changes would not affect current retirees and beneficiaries.
Vermont Business Magazine The Sage Street Mill’s Multi-sector Makers Market in North Bennington has been awarded a $4,500 grant from Bennington College and the Andrew Mellon Foundation to further support its mission to increase diversity, knowledge, and access to affordable locally grown organic food in North Bennington. The market welcomes folks of all ages, incomes, and orientations, and offers locally grown organic produce, meats, eggs and hand-crafted goods as well as hands-on demos, workshops, and exhibitions. It began in the summer of 2021 with the goal of empowering various local businesses and farmers who got affected by COVID and providing the community with a new alternative culturally diverse venue to sell locally grown organic food, handmade goods, as well as foster collaboration between local activists and leaders working in the sectors of green energy, organic farming and food, arts and wellness.
by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health today is reporting 1,722 cases of COVID-19 for Friday (2,295 on Thursday). Hospitalizations set a new record today with 102 (up two); the previous record of 101 was set January 10. ICU stays, which also had been elevated, were 27 (up three). The one-day record there was set December 7, 2021, (31).The record daily high was set January 7, with 2,975 cases of COVID-19. While the fatality rate has slowed, there were still four deaths reported today for a statewide total of 497.
Vermont Business Magazine State revenues rebound as consumer taxes strengthen, Molly Gray, Becca Balint to run for Congress, Unemployment rate falls two-tenths to 2.6% in November, Vermont Climate Council adopts CAP, Governor launches $5M program to rehabilitate housing stock, Public-private effort to accelerate fiber broadband construction, Harsh weather could pose challenges to New England’s power system this winter, and more.
Vermont Business Magazine Thirteen Vermont specialty food and beverage producers received twenty awards across ten categories in the annual 2022 Good Food Awards. Seven member of the Vermont Specialty Food Association received awards, including: Blake Hill Preserves, Champlain Orchards, Monti Verdi Salumi, Pin Up Pickles, Republic of Vermont, Runamok Maple, and Vermont Creamery, were announced during a virtual award ceremony on Friday, January 14.
Vermont Business Magazine The luminous glasswork of Hartland, VT, artist Dan Gottsegen promises to bring the John Zampieri State Office Building to life when his publicly commissioned artwork is installed at the downtown Burlington building. Gottsegen’s preliminary design was the winning concept proposal for the commission for the Vermont Departments of Health and Children and Families, which is located in the building.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Join the Vermont Wild Kitchen via Facebook Live with Ali Thomas and Charlee Drury of Vermont Fish & Wildlife and Kate Spring of Good Heart Farmstead L3C where they will demonstrate some easy and delicious recipes that can be cooked right from the home kitchen. On the menu? Smelt! Also, a free, public walk of a forest management project being implemented at the Hinesburg Town Forest (HTF). And registration is open for Green Mountain Conservation Camps.
Vermont Business Magazine Graduation ceremonies, it has been said, are as much a triumph for the family and friends of the student as for the student himself.
And so it was last October when David H., a participant in the Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance diversion program for criminal justice-involved individuals suffering from substance-use or mental-health disorders, celebrated the completion of his sentence and reintegration to the community surrounded by his family, treatment team and other supporters at the Chittenden County Addiction Treatment Court.
Vermont Business Magazine The Agency of Education and the Department of Health announced today new “Test at Home” guidance about testing and quarantine protocols at Vermont’s K-12 schools. These changes, which go into effect as soon as schools have the tests necessary to implement them, are designed to allow students and staff to remain safely in the classroom as much as possible. This program replaces the in-school Test to Stay program for presumptive close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases with an “at-home” based rapid testing process. State officials said the speed at which the Omicron variant spreads means that the current strategy -- which relies on contact tracing, in-school PCR surveillance testing, and in-school antigen testing -- is too slow and logistically burdensome to be workable for many schools.
by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The state’s economists, Jeff Carr for the Scott Administration and Tom Kavet for the Legislature, presented a stunning but expected consensus revenue report to lawmakers and the governor on Thursday. Along with upgrading the annual tax revenue estimate by over $40 million, they forecasted growth in this and next fiscal years to be greater than they’ve been in more than 30 years. Of course, this is largely due to $10.1 billion in federal pandemic recovery and stimulus funds. They also suggest that except for the extremely tight labor market and supply chain problems (profoundly with automobiles), the economy would be cooking along at an even greater rate.
Vermont Business Magazine On January 14, Governor Scott signed S.172, An act relating to authorizing alternative procedures for 2022 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19. Scot said in part: "Today, I signed S. 172, An act relating to authorizing alternative procedures for 2022 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19 because I believe public concerns regarding large gatherings may discourage some who would otherwise participate in Town Meetings and alternative arrangements will help increase voter turnout. Unfortunately, the Legislature has missed another opportunity to expand voter access further by expanding automatic mailing of ballots beyond general elections (Act 60) to include school budget votes, local elections and primary elections. Last year after signing Act 60 into law, I asked the Legislature to take this up when they returned in January, and if passed could be a model for the country."
by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Health today is reporting 2,295 cases of COVID-19 for Thursday (1,963 on Wednesday). This is more than 1,000 cases higher than Tuesday. The record daily high was set last Friday, January 7, with 2,975 cases of COVID-19. While the fatality rate has slowed, there were still three deaths reported today for a statewide total of 493.