by Ethan Tapper The forest management project at the Andrews Community Forest in Richmond, which started last summer, recently concluded. You can take a self-guided tour through two areas at the Hinesburg Town Forest, one which was managed from 2018-2020, and another which will be managed starting this winter.
by Julie Lowell, Public Assets Institute In March, the American Rescue Plan Act allotted nearly $200 million of relief to Vermont’s local governments—$76.6 million to cities and towns, and another $121 million to Vermont counties—to respond to the COVID health emergency, boost essential worker pay, provide needed government services, and invest in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. This money will have significant impact, as it is nearly 40 percent of what Vermont local governments collected in municipal taxes in 2020.
Vermont Business Magazine Attorney General Donovan today announced an anticipated settlement agreement in principle with three distributors of opioids sued last year by his office – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The amount of Vermont’s portion of this national settlement amounts to roughly $60 million. The settlement agreement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic.
Vermont Business Magazine Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Tuesday introduced new legislation to extend Social Security benefits to age 26 for students who are survivors, children of disabled workers, and eligible grandchildren of retired workers. The Senators’ legislation, the Helping Students Successfully Overcome Adversity and Rise (SOAR) with Social Security Act, would restore critical supports for families and bolster the higher education success of their children.
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott and members of his Cabinet are urging Congress to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), negotiated by a group of Democratic and Republican senators and the White House. At a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Scott was joined by Joe Flynn, secretary of the Agency of Transportation, Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources and June Tierney, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, to discuss the benefits of the package.
Vermont Business Magazine Today at 6pm, Representative Peter Welch (Vermont) and Representative Joaquin Castro (TX) will host a virtual town hall event to discuss the fight to protect voting rights, the rise of voter suppression legislation across the country, and what people can do to help the effort to combat these laws. Since January 2021, state legislators in 48 states have introduced over 390 proposed laws to make it harder to vote. To date, 28 of these bills have been signed into law in 17 states.
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) on Tuesday released a report examining the financial impacts of COVID-19 on Vermont’s commercial health insurance marketplace to determine whether any consumer premium relief is warranted. The report focuses on the financial performance of BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont (BCBSVT), MVP Health Group (MVP), the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI), and Cigna throughout the pandemic. Specifically, BCBSVT’s Medicare Supplement and Cigna’s large group market segments, which together totaled approximately $2.2 million in COVID-19 related profits. However, the report also concludes that additional premium relief in these or other market segments may be warranted in the future.
by John McClaughry There was a time, fifty years ago, when many teachers, superintendents, and academics belonged to their professional group, founded as the Vermont Teachers Association in 1850. For many years public school teachers – mostly women – usually had the respect of the community but barely enough salary to pay their bills. So in 1969 education activists persuaded a Republican legislature and governor to enact a collective bargaining law.
Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced the appointment of Patty Richards and Dan Nelson to the newly established Vermont Community Broadband Board. Richards will serve as chair and Nelson will fill one of four board member positions. The Board will be responsible for awarding grants and assisting the Communication Union Districts (CUDs) in their planning, development, and implementation of broadband projects.
SBA Vermont District Office The Small Business Administration reminds all Economic Injury Disaster Loan borrowers the agency extended deferment period for all disaster loans, including COVID-19 EIDLs, until 2022. The SBA continues to accept EIDL applications. EIDLs have affordable terms with a 30-year maturity and a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for nonprofit organizations. Interest continues to accrue during the deferment period and borrowers may make full or partial payments if they choose.
Vermont Business Magazine Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Steve Daines (R-Mont) on Tuesday requested updates from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice on their recent efforts to combat anticompetitive conduct in the health insurance industry. The two senators recently served as chief cosponsors of the bipartisan Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which protects consumers by repealing a long-outdated antitrust exemption for the health insurance industry.
Vermont Business Magazine In response to increased incidents of violence and threatening behavior in the Downtown, a group of businesses and community stakeholders have come together to establish the Safety Escort Program. With organizational support from the Burlington Business Association (BBA), the Safety Escort Program will provide on-call Safety Escorts in the general downtown area. By phone or text, anyone can request a Safety Escort and a friendly Ambassador will walk them to or from their vehicle, building, hotel, or workplace. The service will have a special focus on supporting retail and nightlife employees.