Numerous battles remain for the legislative session

Wikimedia Commons/Artaxerxes

WINDING DOWN: The Vermont Statehouse and the governor still have some differences to work out as this year’s legislative session is scheduled to conclude in a week.

The current legislative session is scheduled to adjourn this Friday, but a handful of major political disputes are getting resolved while others are still up in the air.

No green heating mandates?

Gov. Phil Scott may win a big political fight with lawmakers considering the fate of the Clean Heat Standard, which would require shifts away from carbon-based heating sources towards electric systems that presumably would rely mostly on renewable forms of energy. The governor, in his veto letter, cited the state’s Joint Fiscal Office’s statement that now is not the time to spring new costs on Vermonters.

It is too soon to estimate the impact on Vermont’s economy, households, and businesses,” he wrote. “The way in which the Clean Heat Standard is implemented, including the way in which clean heat credits are priced and how incentives or subsidies are offered to households and businesses, must be established before meaningful analysis is possible. At the same time, those incentives or subsidies could be costly for the State, suggesting larger fiscal impacts in future years.

It does not currently appear that the Senate and House will have the necessary two-thirds of chamber votes to override the governor on H. 715. The House will try to override the veto anyway.

Act 250 zoning law disputes continue

A bill that continues to be in contention is S.234, which concerns major revisions to the state’s zoning laws. The bill is currently on the notice calander for the Senate to look at proposed changes by their colleagues in the House.

The Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce wrote that a major contention remains that another bill was tacked on to it.

As we covered last week, S. 234 got significant pushback from mayors, local governments, as well as non-profit and for-profit developers because it contains H. 492. H. 492 would bifurcate the consolidated appeals process established back in 2004 and create two tracks for appeals to be heard, they report.

S. 234 would also seeks to create steeper requirements for environmental standards.

“Designated neighborhood development areas seeking enhanced designation shall have, in addition to the requirements of this subsection, wildlife habitat planning bylaws for the enhanced designated center that comply with standards established by the Department of Fish and Wildlife,” the bill states.

“Envirnmental Justice” bill one step from governor’s desk

S.148, which would establish new bureaucracy to monitor “environmental justice” in state policies, is that it was messaged to the House chamber from the Senate on Friday with some more differences to be addressed.

According to its text, this bill would “establish an environmental justice policy for the State of Vermont and require the State agencies to incorporate environmental justice into their work. It would  establish the Advisory Council on Environmental Justice within the Agency of Natural Resources to advise the State on environmental justice issues. It also would require the creation of an environmental justice mapping tool.”

The bill is not currently listed on the House calendar for this week.

Lawmakers turn against governor on pensions

Last week the governor saw his veto of the pension reform bill S. 286 overriden by unanimous Senate/House votes. The governor — who request sufficient reforms in the pension system that he felt were disregarded — signaled that he expected this to occur in his veto letter.

“I have been clear it does not include enough structural change to solve the enormous unfunded liability problems the State faces. I offered balanced solutions, which were disregarded,” he wrote.

The current unfunded retirement liabilities for public sector workers in Vermont is estimated at over $5 billion.

Governor signs ethics bill into law

Scott signed the state’s first code of ethics for public officials on Tuesday. Most states already have a code and this one is seen as an important start for Vermont.

One thing S.171 seeks to clarify is what constitutes a conflict of interest. It defines one as, “direct or indirect, financial or otherwise, of a public servant or such an interest, known to the public servant, of a member of the public servant’s immediate family or household, or of a business associate, in the outcome of a particular matter pending before the public servant or the public servant’s public body, or that is in conflict with the proper discharge of the public servant’s duties.”

It also attempts to clarify what is not a sufficient conflict.

““Conflict of interest” does not include any interest that is no greater than that of other persons generally affected by the outcome of a matter, such as a policyholder in an insurance
company or a depositor in a bank,” it states.

“Truth and Reconciliation” bill

This bill H. 69, would create a new task force to examine systemanic racism in the state.

It would “develop and submit to the General Assembly a proposal for legislation to create one or more truth and reconciliation commissions to examine and begin the process of dismantling institutional, structural, and systemic discrimination in Vermont, both past and present,” its text states.

This commission would have authority directly over participating legislative figures.

“The voting members of the Task Force shall include representatives of historically disadvantaged and disenfranchised groups that have suffered from institutional, structural, and systemic discrimination in Vermont. The nonvoting members of the Task Force shall include legislative members,” it states.

This bill would cost taxpayers about $4.5 million. On Monday morning, the Senate chamber approved the latest version and it may see the governor’s desk next.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Wikimedia Commons/Artaxerxes

4 thoughts on “Numerous battles remain for the legislative session

  1. Anybody see 2000 mules yet?

    They caught them all, red handed.

    It would be a wonderful movie to promote. Wonder if Digger will do a review?

    I hear fox and newsmax refuse to report on it. These folks are going to put do the Romans, with corruption, deceit, power, lust for money and hedonism. remarkable!

    • Check out the Epoch Times interview with Dsouza about his 2000 Mules film.

      The criticisms of the ‘2000 Mules’ film I’ve seen to date amount to the ‘non-denial denial’ methodologies made famous by Nixon operatives during the Watergate scandal. No one is saying the claims are false, but that the proof offered in support of those claims isn’t sufficient to justify litigation.

      Keep in mind, this is the same legal tactic used by various judges when the myriad voter fraud claims were first submitted for investigation. In almost all cases, the charges were dismissed without reaching the discovery phase of litigation in which evidence can be subpoenaed by both the defendants and the plaintiffs.

      But who knows for certain? If I wanted to create interest in a film, one of the best ways of doing so would be to conspicuously censor its coverage and fuel the conspiracy theories surrounding it.

      Obviously, we can no longer trust law enforcement (FBI, CIA, HSA, NSA, etc.). We can’t trust the medical establishment (even our own doctors) because of the conflict of interest between medical providers, medical research funding, and pharmaceutical companies (do you remember the movie The Fugitive, 30 years ago with Harrison Ford?). We can’t trust our military leadership (guys like former Sec. of Defense Mike Esper and Chief of Staff General Milley) who were operating a shadow government, by their own admission.

      Never mind voter integrity. Even my little one-horse village of Westminster, VT received $5000 from the Zuckerberg election machine to promote mail-in ballots, in which twice as many people voted as was usual in typical highly contested elections, and 1/3rd of the mailed ballots were unaccounted for. What are we supposed to do? Interrogate our friends and neighbors?

      One thing is certain. The most unfortunate result of today’s circumstance is that our basic trust in human decency has been shaken to its core. And that seems to be, in my humble opinion, precisely the intent of those who want to destroy the concept of the individual liberty and freedom that can only survive when we-the-people act responsibly.

      As Benjamin Franklin warned during the Constitutional Convention of 1787:

      “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

      What happens on November 8th , if we can make it that far, will determine our destiny.

      • if you don’t see ANY commentary of it on VT Digger, CNN, MSNBC, News Max, Breitbart, Fox News, YouTube…..

        …..that confirms pay dirt. The truth will not be ignored by all the propagandists.

        My bet without looking…..they are talking about it on Granite Grok…

  2. Guess Vt has deemed it necessary to have its own ‘Ministry of Truth’ in H.69, despite Biden’s efforts within DHS.

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