350 Vermont Climate SOS Rally in Montpelier

On Friday, Feb 18, 350Vermont calls for a statewide rally on the State House lawn in Montpelier. Over the past year, our members worked hard  to ensure that the Climate Action Plan would be the catalyst that propelled us towards the change we need to see in our state.  Unfortunately, the Climate Action Plan didn’t go nearly far enough, or include enough input from frontline communities, and now it is up to the legislature to act. 

“This year, the Vermont legislature has the tremendous opportunity to make substantial progress on addressing the climate crisis,” says 350VT Organizer Jaiel Pulskamp. “We’re calling on them to enact real and just solutions that will improve regular people’s lives while slashing emissions – not more greenwashing and false solutions that put more money into the pockets of the utilities and their shareholders.”


Vinson/ACLU Files Lawsuit Against VT For Restricting Online Speech in Brattleboro

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Brattleboro resident and Black Lives Matter supporter Isabel Vinson filed a federal lawsuit today challenging a Vermont law that prohibits “disturbing peace by use of telephone or other electronic communications.” Vinson was criminally cited by the Brattleboro Police Department in June 2020 for her online criticism of a local business owner’s derogatory Facebook posts about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The lawsuit asserts that the law at issue, 13 V.S.A. § 1027, unconstitutionally restricts online speech. Vinson is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont to declare that the statute violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and to issue an injunction prohibiting its enforcement going forward.


Vermont Students Convene To Declare Their Priorities For The 2022 Legislative Session

Vermont students representing the Vermont Youth Lobby and the Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network united on Zoom at noon on Friday and declared their priorities for the 2022 legislative session. In this address they looked back to their calls to action for the state seen in the Climate Congress Declaration and the work of the Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network, and they Youth highlighted the actions they have called for that have been left untouched, while they declared their priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session.

“Vermont legislators need to implement the Climate Action Plan, pass the environment justice bill, pass antiracism standards in education, pass the Bottle Bill and so much more,” said Jenna Hirschman, a student from Essex High School in Chittenden County, representing the Vermont Youth Lobby.


Vermont Governor Scott’s State of the State Address

Madam President, Madam Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, members of the General Assembly, and fellow Vermonters:

It is our tradition at the opening of the legislative session to come together and chart our course for the work ahead.

Whether in times of peace or war, prosperity or depression, those who came before us felt the same hope and optimism we share today, ready to do the work to take on new problems and solve those that have eluded us for years.


Connecticut River Joint Commissions Receives Grant from State of Vermont

The Connecticut River Joint Commissions (CRJC) is pleased to announce that it has received a $30,733 grant through the State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation. This one-year grant provides funding to implement CRJC’s July 2021 to June 2022 work program. Additional funding is provided by New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

These funds will allow the CRJC to continue its emphasis on the grassroots, locally focused work of its five local river subcommittees and the broader implementation of its river management plan. The CRJC focuses on the key issues facing the Connecticut River watershed of Vermont and New Hampshire and plays the vital bi-state role of convening, catalyzing, and leading dialogue on these regional issues.


Brattleboro Opioid Settlement – Executive Summary

Executive Summary

1. Settlement Approval Deadline: January 2, 2022
2. Recommendation: Approve Settlements
3. Total Funds to Vermont: Approximately $65 Million (assuming full participation)
4. Local Government Allocations: 15% of total Vermont share, to be allocated pursuant to Exhibit G to the Settlement Agreements.


Broadband Grants Go To Four Vermont Communication Union Districts

Governor Scott Announces $9.9 million in grants to Accelerate Broadband Buildout in Four Vermont Communication Union Districts

Montpelier, Vermont – The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), along with the Governor, Congressman Welch and other state and federal officials and representatives of many of the state’s Communications Union Districts, celebrated the awarding of $9.9 Million in Preconstruction Grants to four Communication Union Districts (CUDs) in an event in Montpelier Monday. The Districts represent 64 Vermont towns and villages.

Governor Scott celebrated the investment, “We all know how important broadband is to Vermonters and our economy. Connectivity is essential to our everyday lives, the way we do business, and how we stay connected with family and friends. Making investments in this critical infrastructure will allow us to grow in all 14 counties and help us retain and attract more workers, and I’m excited this work is moving forward.”


The 2020 Census and Windham County, VT

The new census is being rolled out. Both Vermont and Windham County have seen population growth, if the numbers are reliable, since 2010.

Windham County had a 3.1% change in population, from 44,513 in 2010 to 45,905 in 2020. Vermont’s population grew by 2.8%, from 625,741 in 2010 to 643,077 in 2020.

The percent of Windham County population over 18 is 82.5%, or 37,893 people.


Marlboro Music Ensures Its Future Through Agreement to Purchase Potash Hill

Marlboro Music Festival has an announcement:

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to share with you the news that Marlboro Music has come to agreement with Democracy Builders Fund—our landlord this past year, following the closure of Marlboro College—to purchase the Marlboro campus that has been our only home since 1951. This arrangement includes an amicable settlement with Type 1 Civilization, which has been engaged with Democracy Builders in a dispute over ownership rights. We have issued a press release about this transaction, which ushers in an exciting new chapter in our history. 


Tim Wessel Appointed to VT Cannabis Advisory Committee

From Pro Tim Becca Balint:

“3/ Two appts to the Advisory Cmte. that will guide the VT Cannabis Control Board—@TimWesselVT , a Selectboard member & former Chair from Bratt., will represent municipalities, & Chris Walsh, Director of Sales & Bus. Dev. at @terraveratweets, will represent the Cannabis industry.”


iBrattleboro Contributor and Local AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen In Hot Water For November General Strike Vote

As a sometime reader of Counterpunch, I occasionally run across items of local interest. This time, it’s an article highlighting a voice iBrattleboro readers know well — Vermont-chapter AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen. Van Deusen has been posting articles on iBrattleboro about local labor issues, and I’ve always been surprised by how refreshingly “left” this union rep sounds — why he’s almost a firebrand! Which is why I was unsurprised to learn that not everyone finds his labor radicalism so appealing.

The article, entitled “Why is AFL-CIO So Worried About Its Vermont Affiliate?” details recent friction between Vermont’s local chapter of the AFL-CIO and the national leadership of the parent organization. It all stems from a local resolution to call for a general strike if there was any protracted attempt on the part of the Right to keep Trump in office illegally.


Any Old Vermont Sugarhouses Out There?

Vermont sugarhouses are a vanishing landmark and with them their history is at risk of being permanently lost.  A statewide network of sugar-making enthusiasts have organized a project to create a comprehensive and descriptive list of all sugarhouses in Vermont with a focus on the oldest sugarhouses. 

Once the list is complete the project team will interview sugarmaking families and photograph Vermont sugarhouses. This visual and documented history will be made available for future review and use. The final outcome will be the creation of a photo book to showcase these architectural legacies and landmarks.


Vermont Governor Scott Budget Address 2021

Vermont Governor Scott gave his budget address today. Here’s the full text of his remarks, following a bit of PR from his office

….:

“Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today delivered his fifth budget address to the General Assembly, presenting a balanced budget that, with the help of federal stimulus, includes $210 million in bold new investments to strengthen the economy, create more and better paying jobs, and address big priorities, like downtown revitalization, infrastructure, broadband and climate change. All without raising taxes or existing fees or cutting essential services.

The $6.83 billion budget lays the foundation for a strong economic recovery in all of Vermont’s 14 counties as we build back from the pandemic. This includes $123 million over two years in state capital construction, $680 million in roads, bridges, and other transportation projects, $1.99 billion in general fund spending and $1.89 billion for preK-12 education.


Vermont Guidelines for Safe Holidays

Here’s what the state of Vermont says about gathering during the holidays:

For the period from December 23 – January 2, one household may gather with one other trusted household. That is a maximum of two households gathering during this period.
Staying home and with people you live with is still the lowest risk. Gathering with people you do not live with is not recommended for people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 or people who care for them.
If you do gather, the Health Department strongly encourages getting tested 7 days afterwards.
If you gather with anyone from out of state, everyone in both households must quarantine for 14 days, or 7 days with a negative test.
The travel policy has not changed. If you travel outside of Vermont, you must follow quarantine requirements.


Governor Issues Strict Order On Social Gatherings, More

Governor Scott issued new COVID-19 executive orders today for Vermonters. The big news is that everyone must limit attendance at all gatherings to members of their immediate household. This includes staying at home for Thanksgiving, with a tiny loophole for family members living alone.

Effective Saturday November 14, 2020 at 10pm it is ordered that multiple household social gatherings be suspended, restaurant hours and seating limits be tightened, and bars and clubs be closed to in-person service.

It is furthered ordered that restaurants and public accommodations keep contact logs, that the public comply with contact tracing efforts, and that recreational sports programs be suspended.

There’s more: all college students returning home in or out of state must quarantine at home, and all businesses shall reinstitute or reemphasize telecommuting and work from home.

The full text of the executive order is below.


Vermont Economic Recovery Grant Program Expands Eligibility for Businesses

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and the Department of Taxes today announced expanded eligibility for Economic Recovery Grants for Vermont businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the original eligibility criteria, a business was required to have at least one W-2 employee who was not an owner of that business. Starting today, August 3, businesses with at least one W-2 employee – now including those who are an owner – are also eligible and encouraged to apply.

“Businesses of all sizes are doing everything they can to survive under the difficult circumstances caused by this pandemic, and it’s our responsibility to step up and support them in the recovery,” said Governor Scott. “We are hopeful these new requirements will provide some additional relief as we continue to rebuild together and emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”


Vermont Strengthens Mask Requirements

Montpelier, Vt. – As the state continues its sustained efforts to encourage mask use as a tool to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable, Governor Phil Scott today announced strengthened mask requirements in public places and congregate settings.

“Based on national and regional data on how the virus is spreading – and rather than waiting like other states have – I feel we need to act now to protect our gains, which have allowed us to reopen much of our economy,” said Governor Scott. “That’s why today I signed an Order, which will strengthen our current mask mandates, so that we do not take steps backwards and we can stay open into the fall as people move more of their interactions indoors,” Governor Scott added.


VT Governor Scott Announces Housing Assistance Programs

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Vermont State Housing Authority and the Vermont State Housing Finance Agency today announced $30 million in housing assistance to those affected by COVID-19. The programs, first proposed by the Administration and amended and passed by the Legislature, utilize federal CARES Act funding to provide relief for those tenants unable to pay rent, landlords suffering from a loss of rent payments and those lower income homeowners needing assistance in paying their mortgages.

“Landlords, renters, homeowners and those experiencing homelessness have all been impacted by this virus and need assistance, which is why we’ve worked closely with the Legislature to provide this relief,” said Governor Phil Scott. “As we continue to fight this virus, keep Vermonters safe and restart our economy, we know our recovery starts with everyone having a safe and secure place to call home.”


Vermont Expands Travel Policy July 1

Montpelier, Vt. – As state data and expanded testing and tracing capacity continue to support reopening, Governor Phil Scott today announced he will expand the number of states covered under Vermont’s county-by-county quarantine-free travel policy, which allows direct travel from designated counties without a 14-day quarantine requirement.

In early June, the Governor, in close consultation with the Vermont Department of Health, opened up travel to and from counties in New England and New York with less than 400 active cases of COVID-19 per one million residents without a quarantine requirement. Effective July 1, this policy will be expanded to counties below this threshold in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. Quarantine requirements remain in place for those traveling to and from other regions.