Towns can mandate wearing masks in public, Scott says

By Guy Page

Here’s a partial potpourri of this week’s Covid-19 related news.

Municipalities may require masks to be worn in public. While not wishing to impose a statewide requirement, Gov. Phil Scott said at his press conference today that he recognizes that municipalities face different public health situations, and may need the flexibility to require everyone to wear masks in public places. So he’s okay with town-by-town enforcement of mask mandates.

Gov. Scott wants school budget vote do-over. Key lawmakers don’t. Under a plan unveiled by administration officials yesterday, Vermont school budgets – even those already approved in March –  would be voted on again to allow voters to trim spending approved before the pandemic struck.

Chairs of both House and Senate education committees oppose the idea. They say it would turn an already muddled funding scenario into chaos.

For Scott, it’s a way to save desperately needed money. Vermont faces a $170 billion education fund deficit, based in part of school budgets approved by voters unaware that just a week later the economy would begin to descend into an unprecedented freefall. The Legislature should consider spending reduction options before raising taxes, Gov. Scott said: “Vermonters were tapped out before the pandemic”…..“Let’s look at the spending side.”

Guy Page

As reported by VT Digger, House Education Chair Kate Webb (D-Shelburne) called the plan “chaotic” and Senate Education Chair Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden) called it “the first genuinely dumb idea that the administration has put forward during the Covid emergency.” No related legislation has yet been proposed.

Covid-19 spreads three times slower than two weeks ago. Modeling shared at today’s press conference predicts 40 weeks will pass before the number of case-positive Vermonters doubles, administration official Mike Piecak reported at the press conference today. May 1 modeling showed a doubling in 12 weeks, the third best in the nation. The administration considers this encouraging news but still plans to gradually reopen the economy.

“Re-open Vermont” petition attracts almost 300 signatures (at last count). Guy and Colette Page of Berlin published an online petition urging Gov. Scott to safely accelerate the reopening the Vermont economy. Published Saturday May 9, the petition was shared a few times on their personal Facebook pages and sent to some email contacts. “We want Gov. Scott to understand the frustration and urgency that Vermonters of good will are feeling,” the Berlin couple said. The petition has not been shared on Vermont Daily until now because it was meant to be a private outreach, not a news event or editorial.

The petition reads in part: “You can trust your fellow Vermonters to act responsibly. We have learned much during this State of Emergency. Given full information and freedom of choice, Vermonters will act in the best interests of themselves, their families, and their communities.” The petition is still open and may be read and signed here.

Scott can extend State of Emergency as many times as necessary. How many times can Gov. Scott extend the State of Emergency? Asked by reporter Steve Merrill of NEKTV, the governor answered “I believe I could continue the State of Emergency until the emergency is over.” The SOE has been extended until June 15. This opinion was confirmed by the governor’s legal counsel moments later. The question of Scott’s SOE constitutionality has been raised by lawyer and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Klar in a campaign statement released yesterday.

Church reopenings to be announced “in the next couple weeks.” Asked by Vermont Daily, “would you consider allowing churches to meet at 25% of capacity, with safety guidelines, as you have with retail stores,” Scott answered that he expects to announce church reopening guidelines ”in the next couple of weeks….it’s on the table…. there would be strict guidelines, but it is on the table.”

If Vermont continues to show positive health statistics, hair salons and restaurants will be able to open by as soon as June 1, Gov. Scott also said.

Vermont state senator hopes for “divine intervention” to reduce $400 million-plus budget deficit. Congress act to reduce Vermont’s budget deficit? It would take a miracle, Sen. Jane Kitchell (D-Caledonia), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told a Senate caucus Wednesday May 13.

“We are confronted with a general fund revenue reduction of $266 million,” Kitchell said. Adding the shortfall in the education and transportation funds, the total deficit is $430 million.

She outlined three possible courses of action. “The first is the hope that we can have divine intervention and Congress will help the state, the second is we can raise revenues, and the third is that we can have very significant reductions in state government and state services or a combination of both.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone refer to action in D.C. as divine, so thank you for that,” Sen. Chris Bray (D-Addison) commented. Kitchell responded, “Clarification, I didn’t say Congress was divine, I said we needed divine intervention,” eliciting a few chuckles.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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13 thoughts on “Towns can mandate wearing masks in public, Scott says

  1. I have noticed on VT Digger since the COVID shutdown, comments on articles about the governor have been more sympathetic toward him. Fear is a powerful tool and Scott being more of a useful manipulator is benefitting from his roll as a facilitator, and has become an instrument assisting in this takeover.

    But he would never be able to lead us out of the devastation he is leading us into!

    As the Lone Ranger rides away at the end of this disaster no one will ask who was that masked man that saved the day, they will only remember Scott took their livelihood with him as he road off.

    • The other thing is comments are not immediately available, while your comment is being “moderated” you can no longer see it. They are removing up votes from comments too. Massive manipulation, but does any body in the press have the guts to investigate this? Nope, readers post about it incessantly, of cours to Donovan won’t do anything about it either. Controlling the narrative, propaganda is the correct term.

  2. My Town (and all surrounding Towns) lack the ability to enforce basic health standards when it concerns abandoned property. None can control the families who insist on piling mounds of trash next to their ‘homes’, and complaints fall on deaf ears.

    These same Towns have absolutely no authority to mandate mask wearing. They don’t even have health officers, because nobody wants to fill the position.

  3. F U Scott……it makes no sense on so many multiple layers, going from one town to the next, how are you going to know if and when they post this?

    I’m not sick. I’m innocent until proven guilty, and guess what being sick is NOT a crime.

    Half the population, my self included has probably already had it. Stop being a pawn for the United Nations and W.H.O.

    • Fed can’t demand it, State can’t demand it, but my town can? How epically dumb.

      • Perhaps when these Towns find newly built pillories in their parks, they may think twice about mandating something they can’t enforce.

  4. Towns can mandate wearing masks in public, ” Scott says ” apparently the
    Governor has been drinking ” Liberal Cool Aid “……..

    Give me a break, can you imagine the CF this is going to be, guess he hasn’t
    thought this out, but then again when has he ever ” Knee Jerk Reaction ” Scott,
    watch what Liberal towns jump on this bandwagon !!

    If you want to wear a mask in public, do it !! If you own a business and want all
    your customer to wear a mask then ” Post-it on the door ” they’ll either follow your
    posting or not enter your establishment…….

    Liberal Thinkers……………. Smoke all the pot you want, abortions on demand
    but you need to wear a mask……….pretty pathetic, and we have a statehouse
    full of them.

  5. OK, so how does the governor propose these small towns with these new found dictatorial powers enforce this mask wearing requirement. Should they call out the sheriffs dept, maybe the State police, how about the national guard and last but not least the UN blue helmets. This is easily the most idiotic proposal to date. This is exceeded in Idiocy by the house and senate education chairs opposing a re-vote
    on school budgets.

    • Once upon a time Vermont had more sheep than people – looks like we still do!!!!!

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