VTDigger

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday unveiled a $400 million economic relief package that aims to ease the strain of the COVID-19 crisis on Vermont businesses, agriculture, and housing. The Scott administration outlined the two-phase proposal, which starts off with $310 million to provide “immediate relief” to businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, at his regular three-times-a-week press conference on the coronavirus crisis. “I know there are too many small business owners who are desperate right now,” Scott said. “Family businesses that have been around for decades...
Vermont retailers, closed for seven weeks to halt the spread of coronavirus, will begin a “gradual reopening” starting Monday, Gov. Phil Scott announced this week.  Scott said that all employees at retail outlets will need to wear face covering and maintain a distance of 6 feet. Stores will also be required to stay under 25% of their maximum legal capacity, and to conduct health and safety training on following state guidelines if they have more than 10 employees. The governor said that customers would be encouraged to wear masks, but it will not be required.  “While I know many are eager to...
Childcare centers can begin to reopen on June 1 and summer day camps will be able to operate this summer, Gov. Phil Scott announced this past Friday. But with gatherings of more than 10 still prohibited for the time being, Secretary of Education Dan French said that schools should think creatively about alternatives to traditional high school graduation ceremonies. “For planning purposes, schools should expect that larger group gatherings will not be permitted prior to the end of the school year,” he said. The announcements come as Scott has gradually started to loosen restrictions and...
The University of Vermont Health Network expects to lose $152 million this fiscal year because of the coronavirus crisis.  Porter Medical Center in Middlebury is a member of the network. The UVM Health Network outlined a series of steps to fill the gap Friday, including reducing salaries and eliminating retirement benefits for leadership, freezing new hiring, reducing doctors’ pay, and halting new capital projects.  Those measures will save $25 million for the network, which is composed of UVM Medical Center and five other hospitals in New York and Vermont.  In a release, Health Network CEO...
VERMONT — Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, taking action to limit the size of public gatherings and suspending some regulations to bolster the health care workforce.  The measure also restricts the number of visitors at psychiatric and elderly care facilities, and expands unemployment insurance to apply to Vermonters who are required to self-isolate or quarantine.  [Read the governor’s full executive order.] There are still only two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vermont, but the Scott administration stressed the importance of...
VERMONT — “It’s only a matter of time” before the coronavirus arrives in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott said on Thursday. When that time comes, state officials said at a press conference that day, they plan to be ready. State agencies on Thursday rolled out preparatory plans for schools, senior living facilities, state government, and hospitals, in advance of the anticipated arrival of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Representatives from the agencies of Education and Human Services, the Department of Health, Vermont Emergency Management, and Gov. Scott outlined their strategy at a press...
MONTPELIER — The Vermont House on Tuesday voted to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $10.96 to $12.55 by 2022. In a 100-49 vote, Democrats were able to just meet the two-thirds majority needed to counteract Scott’s veto pen. The Senate successfully voted to override the veto of the legislation, S.23, earlier this month, meaning the wage increase will now become law. Six out of the eight House Democrats who opposed the minimum wage legislation on the floor in January changed their votes Tuesday, delivering the support needed to enact the...
MONTPELIER — The House Ways and Means Committee advanced legislation this past Wednesday that would legalize a marketplace for marijuana and set a 20% combined tax rate on sales of the substance. The action means the bill, S.54, will likely see a full vote on the House floor in the coming weeks. It represents major movement for the legislation, which stalled in the Ways and Means Committee when it arrived there last year. Under the House bill, which was reported out of committee on a 7-3 vote, cannabis purchases would face a 14% excise tax and a 6% sales tax. The excise tax would send revenue...
MONTPELIER — Democrats in the Vermont House fell one vote short in their attempt to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of a paid family leave program on Wednesday. In a major loss for the majority party, which has made passing a mandatory paid family leave program a priority in recent years, the House voted 99-51 in favor of overriding the veto — one away from the 100 needed to pass the bill into law. Earlier last week, Progressive lawmakers who previously opposed the measure because it didn’t offer strong enough benefits, vowed to aid Democrats and vote to override the veto. But their votes...
Recently VTDigger published a hit piece on the Autosaver Group, Abel Toll and his family.  We don’t suggest you read it because it’s the shoddiest excuse for “journalism” we’ve seen from Digger (an otherwise welcome, necessary, innovative and professional addition to the Vermont news-scape).  Managing Editor Colin Meyn’s name is on the piece. That makes sense since we’ve come to know him as “most likely to get VTDigger sued” for yellow journalism.  The piece is predicated on a “high” number of consumer complaints against the Autosaver Group. One glaring, immediate and unforgivable problem is...

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