In the News

What the Vermont Legislature got done, and what they didn't.

"And, despite multiple paths offered by my administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, it's clear majority leaders are willing to threaten a shutdown of state government, just to unnecessarily raise tax rates," Scott said.

Despite his opposition, however, Scott said he'll allow the new budget to go into law, in order toa void the government shutdown that might have gone into place had Vermont entered the new fiscal year without a spending plan in place.

"As governor, I will not put the health and safety of Vermonters or the stability of our economy at risk," Scott said.  "While I do not support raising any tax rates in a year we have a $55 million surplus, this debate has gone as far as it can responsibly go."

Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann accused the Democrats of not keeping their word.

How do you back out of this proposal?" asked Scheuermann.  "This is a test for the Vermont House and right now we're failing."

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, blasted Democrats for shifting their stance on using surplus money to buy down tax rates.

"This is really disingenuous and to say now that we can't support a buy-down of property tax rates in 2020, when that is what we agreed to," she said on the House floor.  "This is less than our finest hour."

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) proposed an amendment to Toll's latest proposal that would have reinserted the three-way compromise.

Toll attempted to defend her apparent reversal. "In the afternoon, several members told me they could not support [the three-way split]," she said.  "I felt the best way to move forward was to remove that part and move the process onward." She then advised House members to contact their senators and ask them to support a compromise on the budget.

It was a curious moment; the House's chief budget write was essentially telling her colleagues to vote against an amendment she had herself proposed and shepherded to a unanimous committee vote earlier that evening.

Late last week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed S.105, a bill with which many have significant concerns (Page 1514 of House Journal).(link is external) Indeed, the breadth of the bill is exceptionally broad, and will have a significant impact on a number of industries and their ability to do business in Vermont. These include the technology industry, utilities, telecommunications, and many more. That said, the impact about which I am most concern is on our incredibly important, statewide, outdoor recreation industry.

As background, as passed, S.105 mandates a "rebuttable presumption" of anti-consumer intent in all instances in which there is any limitation of a claim in a contract; essentially, that the 5 items listed in the bill would be considered "substantively unconscionable" when included in a contract.

This may sound like gobbledygook to many, and has been dismissed by some in Montpelier as a change that really should be of no concern to our recreation industry.

But, it is important gobbledygook to understand, and the concerns of our recreation industry are very real.

What this change does is open up the door to a much wider array of legal claims - specifically very costly lawsuits, consumer fraud claims, and fines, in addition to the potential of costly increases in a business' liability insurance.

“Imagine the impact an increase in the cost of fuel, transportation, utilities, food and clothing, would have on the purchasing power of low-income Vermonters,” Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, told the House.

“Imagine the impact these increases will have on our small retail establishments already struggling to stay competitive with online retailers,” she said.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, brought back to the floor a House Ways and Means committee proposal that would have cut property taxes in half and eliminated an income sensitivity program ...

"It ensures a modest amount of skin in the game so that spending decisions are made with additional thought," she said.  "This is our chance to do something meaningful and put a stamp on education finance changes that are meaningful while providing long-term property tax relief and sustainability."

“Women’s issues are economic issues. They are public safety issues. They are tax issues. They are education issues. They are health care issues. They run the gamut, and to put women all in one box diminishes the importance of all of the issues for women,” she (Scheuermann) said.