Legislative Digest: Government Restructuring, Lake Clean Up and Cable TV for the People

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While the U.S. Congress is busy dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Vermonters launched a rally in opposition to Obamacare repeal as part of a nation-wide action led by Senator Bernie Sanders. (VTDigger/ Greenberg)

Under the golden dome, Governor Phil Scott announced a restructuring of state government that will merge the departments of liquor and lottery, restructure IT programs and create a new agency of commerce, workforce and community development. (Seven Days/ Hallenbeck).

Watch the Governor’s most recent interview with the Vermont Press Bureau’s Neal Goswami. (1/13/17)

That expectation that no new fees would be needed to clean up Lake Champlain was countered on Tuesday when State Treasurer Beth Pearce said that the clean-up program could be funded for two years only out of existing revenues. (VTDigger/ Polhemus)  

A long awaited report released Sunday night outlines the Treasurer’s  plan for a per parcel assessment on property owners as a way to pay for the $970 water clean up. (VPR/ Hirschfeld)

Vermont’s legislature and new appointments are getting up to speed on a number of issues. According to John Hollar, DRM lobbyist with his finger on the pulse of the State House, legislation is in motion:

  • housing bill, but if it means making permitting easier that will bring protest from environmentalists. To the extent it doesn’t have a strong emphasis on affordable housing, low-income advocates will also fight it.
  •  bill to clarify the rules governing independent contractors, but that will be strongly opposed by organized labor. The outcome of that fight may have been preordained when Speaker Mitzi Johnson largely dismantled the committee that last year unanimously approved a bill that would have fixed the problem. (DRM/ Hollar).
  •  proposals to shift education dollars away from K-12 and into pre-K and higher education, but those will face a wall of resistance from the Vermont NEA. (DRM/ Hollar).
  • On the Democratic side, the initiative that seems to be receiving the most focus is a bill to create a paid family leave benefit. The bill would establish an insurance program to fund twelve weeks of family leave that would be financed by a payroll tax of about one percent divided between employees and employers. The cost has been estimated at $79 million. The bill has a great deal of support in the legislature, but given the governor’s unwavering focus on the economy and taxes, his approval seems unlikely. (DRM/ Hollar)

A recently released Legislative report to Promote Increased Ease of Citizen Participation in PSB Proceedings recommends that the Public Service Board change its name to avoid confusion with the Department of Public Service and for the State to revive Vermont Interactive Technologies (VIT) as a forum for public input.

In a major win for cable TV consumers and the people of Vermont, the Public Service Board delivered its long awaited ruling on Comcast’s Certificate of Public Good last Friday. The decision lays the groundwork for modernizing PEG access and delivers a clear statement that PEG access is an important community good and should remain relevant as cable technology changes. (CCTV/ Davitian)

In a celebration of five decades of public service, the Vermont Senate declared March 7th 2017 Bill Doyle Town Meeting Day. (Seven Days/ Hallenbeck)

And former Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell looks back on two decades of being the state’s top law enforcement official. (VPR/ Lindholm & Daniels).

WATCH WHAT’S HAPPENING UNDER THE DOME

Images Courtesy of VTDigger.org, Vermont.org, Mom-mentum, The Museum of Broadcast Communications.

 

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