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Youth Lobby calls on lawmakers to pass carbon reduction bill

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 3:12pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today, young Vermonters from Youth Lobby, the Sierra Club, and Sunrise Chittenden left their schools for the Vermont Youth Lobby Day at the State House. The event was organized to demand climate action and a brighter future for Vermont. During the day, the youth activists had the opportunity to meet with their representatives, Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, and the Climate Solutions Caucus to express their concerns and advocate for solutions to the climate crisis. In particular, young Vermonters are calling on their legislators to pass S.5, the Affordable Heat Act. The event also featured a press conference, where the young activists shared their stories and urged policymakers to make bold, equitable action to protect the planet in line with Vermont’s 2021 Climate Action Plan.

Governor appoints Melanie Carpenter to Lamoille-2 House seat

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 1:30pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced that he has appointed Melanie Carpenter, of Hyde Park, to the vacant Lamoille-2 seat in the House of Representatives. Carpenter replaces former Democratic Representative Kate Donnally, who resigned last month. By tradition the governor appoints a person of the same party to fill a vacated seat. Carpenter currently owns and operates Zack Woods Herb Farm in Hyde Park, where she employs many local Vermonters. She previously served as principal of Stowe Middle School from 2008 to 2013. She was also a 7th and 8th grade teacher and literacy specialist at Peoples Academy Middle School in Morrisville from 2000 to 2008.

Governor Scott announces departure of Education Secretary Dan French

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 1:11pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced that Secretary Dan French will be leaving his job leading the Vermont Agency of Education next month to take a senior leadership role at the Council of Chief State School Officers. Secretary French has served Vermont and its students for years, first as a high school social studies teacher, then a K-12 principal. He served over a decade as a superintendent first in Canaan, Vt. and then for the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union from 2007-2016, where he was recognized as Superintendent of the Year in 2009. He also served as president of the Vermont Superintendents Association.

Pew: Record state budget reserves buffer against mounting fiscal threats

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 12:13pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Since the start of the pandemic, higher-than-forecasted revenue and historic levels of federal COVID-19 aid helped spur widespread growth in states’ rainy day funds and end-of-year balances. A new report by PEW has found that after an early pandemic decline in rainy day fund balances, states reported that their combined savings reached a record $134.5 billion by the start of fiscal 2023 - and amid widespread, multiyear budget surpluses, states also reported the largest-ever annual increase in leftover general fund budget dollars. Rainy day funds, also known as budget stabilization funds, hit all-time highs in 37 states by the end of fiscal 2022—the most in at least 23 years. A smaller number of states (17) reached the highest number of days they could run government operations using rainy day funds alone, due largely to a historic spike in annual spending levels during the same time. Vermont finished in the middle of the pack with 41.5 days in reserve; the US median is 42.3 days.

Welch presses USDA secretary to support Vermont farmers now: 'The Clock is Ticking'

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 11:54am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine In a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee Hearing held today, US Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) urged United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to support Vermont farmers, producers, and small businesses. Welch, who chairs the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, outlined several of his Farm Bill priorities, including supporting Vermont’s organic dairy farmers, expanding rural broadband access, protecting forests from invasive species, and broadening the reach of rural energy assistance programs. 

PC Construction wins national AGC Build America Award for One Spruce Peak 

Fri, 03/17/2023 - 5:25am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine This week, PC Construction accepted a national Build America Award from the Associated General Contractors of America for One Spruce Peak, a residential mountain retreat at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort built in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $46.5 million, six-story, 125,000-square-foot facility includes 27 ski-in/ski-out residences, townhomes, and penthouses. Units feature in-residence elevators, spacious balconies with mountain views, sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows, and best-in-class materials and finishes.  

Hoffer releases audit of VTrans cost and schedule performance on paving projects

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 5:03pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine State Auditor Doug Hoffer released a new audit Wednesday examining whether VTrans completes its paving projects on time and within budget, and whether they utilize performance measurement tools to accomplish those objectives. The Governor’s State Strategic Plan includes the goal of improving “transportation project planning” by continuously improving “project development efficiency by reducing the time and cost for planning, engineering, permitting, right-of-way acquisition and construction management.” The importance of that goal is evidenced by the Legislature’s approval of $590 million for paving projects from fiscal years 2019 through 2023. The audit assessed the cost and schedule performance for 14 paving projects against VTrans’ initial estimates to the Legislature and found significant deviations, primarily in the preliminary engineering phase. For instance, VTrans experienced preliminary engineering completion delays for some projects by as much as 3 to 6 years yet could not fully explain what caused the delays.

Balint supports protections for those seeking services from faith-based and neighborhood organizations

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 4:03pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Representative Becca Balint (D-Vermont) and nine other members submitted a comment letter to Federal Agencies heads regarding a proposed rule by the Education Department, the Homeland Security Department, the Agriculture Department, the Agency for International Development, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Justice Department, the Labor Department, the Veterans Affairs Department, and the Health and Human Services Department. The letter was submitted in support of the proposed regulations entitled “Partnerships with Faith Based and Neighborhood Organizations” and to urge additional improvements to ensure robust religious liberty and nondiscrimination protections for people who use federally funded social services.

Welch introduces bill to repeal 2018 rollback of Dodd-Frank protections

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:58pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine US Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) joined Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and dozens of other Democratic lawmakers to introduce the Secure Viable Banking Act, legislation that would repeal Title IV of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank. Senator Welch vehemently opposed the 2018 deregulation bill and voted to uphold the consumer protections granted under Dodd-Frank. 

Vermont APEX Accelerator unveils new name and renewed focus on small business support

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:31pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Last fall, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) across the nation became a program managed under the Department of Defense, Office of Small Business Programs. With the structural change, came an opportunity to rebrand and PTACs are now nationally recognized as APEX Accelerators. In Vermont, the center will be known as Vermont APEX Accelerator. This transition will bring increased national visibility, increased resources, and new opportunities to assist clients. Locally, Vermont APEX Accelerator serves close to 500 clients, and has assisted them with winning over $195 million in government awards in 2022.

EPA analysis shows 2021 toxic chemical releases in Vermont have decreased

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:25pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that environmental releases of TRI chemicals from facilities covered by the program remained below pre-pandemic levels and releases in 2021 are 10% lower than 2012 releases, even with an 8% increase from 2020 to 2021.

VCBB congratulates NEKCA on ACP grant award

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 3:04pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) has been awarded a $500,000 Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant to help promote and raise awareness of and participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). NEKCA will be the main grantee and will subgrant out funding across the five different Community Action Agencies of the Vermont Community Action Partnership (VCAP). Funded entities include NEKCA, BROC, CVOEO, SEVCA, and Capstone. The ACP is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) benefit program that provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. To be eligible, a household income must be at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or a member of the household must meet other requirements