Category Archives: Politics

News about Vermont politics.

Lawmakers considering soda tax

MONTPELIER — Vermont lawmakers are getting an earful about a proposal to levy a penny-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages like soda.
Supporters of the measure says the state needs the revenue to pay for health programs, and that Vermonters need to be encouraged to drink less of the beverages, which have been tied to the increase in obesity nationwide in recent years.
Opponents of the tax say it would prompt many Vermonters — especially those living near the state’s borders — to travel out of state to do their shopping.
Both the House Ways and Means Committee and House Health Care Committee are taking testimony on the issue Wednesday.

Advocates bash Shumlin’s welfare cuts proposal

By DAVE GRAM | The Associated Press
MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin’s plan to cut a key welfare-to-work program by limiting the amount of time people get benefits will increase poverty and homelessness, advocates and beneficiaries said Thursday.
“It’s not only an attack on low-income parents, mostly females, but it’s an attack on children,” said Shela Linton, a mother of two who got benefits while working as a waitress for minimum wage and attending college.
Shumlin, a Democrat, defended his plan to put time limits totaling five years over a lifetime during which someone would be eligible for a monthly check from the state’s Reach Up program — three years initially, with later periods counting toward the balance if needed.
Shumlin has angered many advocates for low-income Vermont residents with his proposal to fund increased child care subsidies with cuts to the earned-income tax credit program, which provides benefits to about 44,000 low-income working households.
He said on Thursday that his proposals have a unified purpose: to help people finding it difficult to enter the workforce due to a lack of affordable, quality child care so they can go to work. Continue reading

Same-sex couples seek deportation protection, with Leahy’s help

MONTPELIER — More than a year after U.S. immigration authorities sought to split up a same-sex, bi-national couple living in Vermont, Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Susan Collins of Maine are pushing legislation to protect such couples.
After a threatening letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 14 months ago, Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda of Dummerston got a follow-up letter in May saying the agency would hold off for two years before trying to deport Ueda to her native Japan for an expired visa.
Now legislation introduced by Leahy and Collins — backed by President Barack Obama — would halt such deportations by allowing Americans to sponsor their same-sex “permanent partners” who are immigrants for permanent residency.
There are an estimated 36,000 same-sex, bi-national couples in the country.

“Hero mom” takes FDA fight to Washington

The mother of two Saxtons River boys suffering from a rare terminal illness who launched an online campaign last year to gain access to a life-saving drug is taking her fight to Congress.

Jennifer McNary is in Washington, D.C., today to present a petition with more than 170,000 signatures to the Food and Drug Administration, urging it to expedite the approval of the drug eteplirsen, which has been called “a miracle drug” by families affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative genetic mutation that causes the loss of dystrophin, a large-structure protein which protects muscle fibers.

Read the full story from Lucia Suarez on the Rutland Herald web site >>

Administration makes scathing case against its own proposal

The most damning argument yet against the Shumlin administration’s plan to cap welfare benefits has come from, well, the Shumlin administration.

In his budget address last month, Gov. Peter Shumlin said “Reach Up” benefits, as they’re called, should be “temporary,” not “timeless.” He said the state should cap lifetime benefits at five years, a move that would save the state an estimated $6 million in fiscal year 2014.

But as is being reported today by VTDigger’s Alicia Freese and Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, the administration took a hard look at an identical proposal in 2012, and pretty much condemned it.

As Freese noted, a January report signed off on by Commissioner of Children and Families Dave Yacavone – the same guy urging lawmakers to adopt the plan now – concluded that capping benefits at 60 months “could leave families destitute and at risk and will create a large hole in the fabric of Vermont’s safety net for those most in need.”

In a passage pulled by Heintz, the report says that “the families who would be affected by this cut have three times as many barriers to gaining self-sufficiency as the general Reach Up caseload population.”

“They are families with limited abilities and resources to recover from such a loss. The elimination of their financial assistance may put their children at risk and force a cost shift to other programs.”

For the full stories, head over to and

Source Article from

Vt. Senate to vote on assisted death Tuesday

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate is gearing up for a vote on legislation that supporters call “end-of-life choices” and critics call “physician-assisted suicide.”
The Senate is set to vote Tuesday whether to follow a recommendation of the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the measure.
The Judiciary Committee on Friday came out against the legislation a week after the Health and Welfare Committee voted unanimously to support it.
If the measure clears the Senate, it still would need action in the Vermont House. Both the House leadership and Gov. Peter Shumlin have expressed support for the bill.

Proposed law would have non-union members pay fee

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate is expected this week to give final passage to a bill that calls on public employees who don’t join their union to pay the union an agency fee for representing them in collective bargaining.
The bill would affect teachers, state and municipal employees whose pay and working conditions are negotiated by unions. If the employee doesn’t join the union and pay dues, he or she would be required to pay 85 percent of what members pay in dues.
The Senate voted 26-3 to support a committee’s version of the bill and then advanced it on a voice vote on Friday. It’s expected up for final approval on Tuesday before moving to the House.

Leftist mag puts Shumlin, Sanders on honor roll

MONTPELIER — Two Vermont elected officials have been named to The Nation magazine’s 2012 progressive honor roll.
Sen. Bernie Sanders was chosen by the left-leaning weekly as its most-valuable progressive. The magazine cites Sanders for his defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid against cut being talked about in Washington.
Gov. Peter Shumlin gets The Nation’s nod as the most valuable governor in the country. It cites Shumlin’s work on budget issues, and his support for a single-payer health care system in Vermont.

Leahy elevated to third in line for presidential succession

WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is now third in the line of presidential succession.
The Senate late Monday passed a resolution approving Leahy as president pro tempore. He would replace Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Monday.
The seven-term Leahy would be third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president and the speaker of the House.
Leahy also is in line to replace Inouye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The 72-year-old Leahy currently is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Innkeepers form association, seek voice in policy

WAITSFIELD — Participants at the first meeting of a new Vermont innkeeper association are hoping for a bigger voice in state policy.
Don Huber of the Sinclair Inn in Jericho says without such an organization, the inns haven’t been able to lobby effectively. He said they’ve had no input into the state lodging tax or tourism operations.
The Vermont Inn and Bed and Breakfast Association currently has about 75 members.
Vermont Public Radio reports ( the first meeting was held recently at the Inn At the Round Barn in Waitsfield.