Remarks of Speaker Shap Smith on the opening of the 2009-10 Legislative Biennium

first_imgJanuary 7, 2009 – Thank you, and what a wonderful day it is today.  I want to begin by thanking my wife, Melissa.  She is a strong, compassionate, intelligent and beautiful woman and I am lucky to be married to her.  I also want to thank my children, Eli and Mia.  I am very lucky to have such wonderful, intelligent and (mostly) well-behaved kids.  To my family – my father and step-mother, my mother and step-father, my brothers and step-sister – thank you for your continued support.I also want to thank my colleagues here today.  I could not be more excited about working with such a smart and capable group of people in this House.  Over the coming months, we will disagree from time to time.  But disagreement is healthy – it allows us to tease out the best course of action and make the best decisions for Vermont.  I thank you in advance for these disagreements and for your hard work to ultimately reach the best decisions for all Vermonters.As we open this session, I want to reflect on an experience I had last year that brought into focus for me why I am here today; I’m sure all of you have had similar experiences that have brought into focus your own reasons for service in this body.Last October, on a beautiful fall day, I went with my daughter to pick up my son from school.  I had a busy day and wanted to get back to prepare dinner and make lunches.  But my kids wanted to go play.  I decided to stop and take a moment.  We went down to the swings and as my kids played on that beautiful October day, I looked out over the same playground that I had played on as a child.  I saw the same ball fields and the same schools that I had grown up with.  And I saw in the background the same Green Mountains that I had hiked in as a kid. I realized then, just how lucky I am to have been able to return and raise my kids in the same vibrant community I grew up in.  I also realized that it was the work of men and women in this same chamber 30 years ago that made this possible.  Their work preserved our working landscape and built our vibrant communities and outstanding school system.Now, just as legislators went to work 30 years ago to build a future for Vermont that allowed me to return and raise my children here, so too do we go to work today to help lay the groundwork for a similarly bright future for our children.Every Vermonter knows the seriousness of our state’s challenges in the coming weeks and months, but we must also look beyond the immediate crisis toward building a stronger, more vibrant state for the future.  Working together, we must all focus our efforts in this building over the coming months on the policies and priorities that will keep Vermonters working, warm and well.It is precisely because we must confront immediate and long-term challenges that we can and must rethink the way we think about our state government and the way we deliver services to Vermonters. Our work must focus the state on providing a helping hand when Vermonters need it most.  Our policies and priorities can and should:Keep Vermonters working by ensuring they have access to ongoing education and training and helping to create growth opportunities for Vermont businesses, particularly small businesses;Keep Vermonters warm by ensuring every Vermonter has access to safe and reliable heat in their homes and by building opportunities to weatherize their homes and businesses; and,Keep Vermonters well by partnering with them and their families to make sure they have access to quality and affordable health care and mental health services.As we confront our immediate budget challenges and as we work to craft policies across the board that keep Vermonters working, warm and well, it is imperative that our state government reaches these goals efficiently and effectively.We are now facing an immediate crisis, which requires an immediate response. This crisis is why today I am calling on this House to craft and pass a $150 million bond-based Economic Recovery package to keep Vermonters working now and in the future.The centerpiece of the proposal is a public works jobs program modeled after one championed by Governor Richard Snelling in 1983.  Together, we can keep Vermonters working and strengthen our state’s public assets for the future.Additionally, I am calling for a major reinvestment in Vermont’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.  Our roads, bridges, rail and public transit system keep the Vermont economy moving and current and future businesses are looking to us to ensure they are well constructed and maintained.While the economy will be the first order of business and at the top of our agenda, there are many other pressing needs this body must confront, from strengthening public safety laws to building a strong energy future and retaining our working landscape. With the talent and creativity I see here in this chamber today, I know that we can work together and accomplish important work for Vermonters both on the economy and on these other issues.Now is the time for decisive action.  Now is the time for this legislature to follow in the footsteps of the legislature 30 years ago, which built a Vermont in which we are all proud to raise our children.Now is the time to get to work, which is why on this opening day of the session, after the election of the Clerks and the adoption of our House rules, I shall direct the Clerk to journalize the appointment of the following committees:AGRICULTUREPartridge, Chair of WindhamLawrence, Vice-Chair of LyndonMalcolm ® of PawletAinsworth of RoyaltonBray of New HavenConquest of NewburyMcAllister of HighgateMcNeil of Rutland TownStevens of ShorehamTaylor of Barre CityToll of DanvilleAPPROPRIATIONSHeath, Chair of WestfordLarson, Vice-Chair of BurlingtonHelm ® of CastletonAcinapura of BrandonCrawford of BurkeJohnson of South HeroKeenan of St. Albans CityManwaring of WilmingtonMiller of ShaftsburyMinter of WaterburyMorley of BartonCOMMERCEKitzmiller, Chair of MontpelierMarcotte, Vice-Chair of CoventryShand ® of WeathersfieldBotzow of PownalBissonette of WinooskiClerkin of HartfordDickinson of St. Albans TownLorber of BurlingtonSmith of MendonTurner of MiltonWilson of ManchesterEDUCATIONDonovan, Chair of BurlingtonMook, Vice-Chair of BenningtonClark ® of VergennesGeier of South BurlingtonGilbert of FairfaxKilmartin of Newport CityPearce of RichfordPeltz of WoodburyPerley of EnosburgWaite-Simpson of EssexZenie of ColchesterFISH, WILDLIFE & WATER RESOURCESDeen, Chair of WestminsterAdams, Vice-Chair of HartlandMcCullough ® of WillistonBohi of HartfordFagan of Rutland CityLewis of DerbyNease of JohnsonSpengler of ColchesterWebb of ShelburneGENERAL, HOUSING & MILITARY AFFAIRSHead, Chair of South BurlingtonBaker, Vice-Chair of West RutlandMoran ® of WardsboroJohnson of CanaanRam of BurlingtonSavage of SwantonSouth of St. JohnsburyStevens of WaterburyGOVERNMENT OPERATIONSSweaney, Chair of WindsorAtkins, Vice-Chair of WinooskiDevereux ® of Mount HollyConsejo of SheldonEvans of EssexHigley of LowellHubert of MiltonLeriche of HardwickMartin of WolcottMcDonald of BerlinTownsend of RandolphAGRICULTUREPartridge, Chair of WindhamLawrence, Vice-Chair of LyndonMalcolm ® of PawletAinsworth of RoyaltonBray of New HavenConquest of NewburyMcAllister of HighgateMcNeil of Rutland TownStevens of ShorehamTaylor of Barre CityToll of DanvilleAPPROPRIATIONSHeath, Chair of WestfordLarson, Vice-Chair of BurlingtonHelm ® of CastletonAcinapura of BrandonCrawford of BurkeJohnson of South HeroKeenan of St. Albans CityManwaring of WilmingtonMiller of ShaftsburyMinter of WaterburyMorley of BartonCOMMERCEWhich I will ask the Rules Committee to rename the Committee on Commerce and Economic DevelopmentKitzmiller, Chair of MontpelierMarcotte, Vice-Chair of CoventryShand ® of WeathersfieldBotzow of PownalBissonette of WinooskiClerkin of HartfordDickinson of St. Albans TownLorber of BurlingtonSmith of MendonTurner of MiltonWilson of ManchesterEDUCATIONDonovan, Chair of BurlingtonMook, Vice-Chair of BenningtonClark ® of VergennesGeier of South BurlingtonGilbert of FairfaxKilmartin of Newport CityPearce of RichfordPeltz of WoodburyPerley of EnosburgWaite-Simpson of EssexZenie of ColchesterFISH, WILDLIFE & WATER RESOURCESDeen, Chair of WestminsterAdams, Vice-Chair of HartlandMcCullough ® of WillistonBohi of HartfordFagan of Rutland CityLewis of DerbyNease of JohnsonSpengler of ColchesterWebb of ShelburneGENERAL, HOUSING & MILITARY AFFAIRSHead, Chair of South BurlingtonBaker, Vice-Chair of West RutlandMoran ® of WardsboroJohnson of CanaanRam of BurlingtonSavage of SwantonSouth of St. JohnsburyStevens of WaterburyGOVERNMENT OPERATIONSSweaney, Chair of WindsorAtkins, Vice-Chair of WinooskiDevereux ® of Mount HollyConsejo of SheldonEvans of EssexHigley of LowellHubert of MiltonLeriche of HardwickMartin of WolcottMcDonald of BerlinTownsend of RandolphHEALTH CAREMaier, Chair of MiddleburyMilkey, Vice-Chair of BrattleboroWheeler ® of DerbyCopeland-Hanzas of BradfordGreshin of WarrenMorrissey of BenningtonO’Brien of RichmondPoirier of Barre CityTill of JerichoTrombley of Grand IsleWizowati of BurlingtonHUMAN SERVICESPugh, Chair of BurlingtonFisher, Vice-Chair of LincolnDonahue ® of NorthfieldAndrews of Rutland CityFrank of UnderhillFrench of RandolphHaas of RochesterMcFaun of Barre TownMrowicki of PutneyO’Donnell of VernonOrr of CharlotteINSTITUTIONSEmmons, Chair of SpringfieldMyers, Vice-Chair of EssexRodgers ® of GloverBrowning of ArlingtonDavis of WashingtonHooper of MontpelierKoch of Barre TownLarocque of BarnetLenes of ShelburneMacaig of WillistonReis of St. JohnsburyJUDICIARYLippert, Chair of HinesburgGrad, Vice-Chair of MoretownFlory ® of PittsfordDonaghy of PoultneyFrench of ShrewsburyJewett of RiptonKomline of DorsetMarek of NewfaneMartin of SpringfieldPellett of ChesterScheuermann of StoweNATURAL RESOURCES & ENERGYKlein, Chair of East MontpelierKrawczyk, Vice-Chair of BenningtonNuovo ® of MiddleburyCanfield of Fair HavenCheney of NorwichEdwards of BrattleboroJerman of Essex JunctionMitchell of BarnardWeston of BurlingtonWright of BurlingtonYoung of St. Albans CityTRANSPORTATIONWestman, Chair of CambridgePotter, Vice-Chair of ClarendonAudette ® of South BurlingtonAswad of BurlingtonBrennan of ColchesterBurke of BrattleboroCorcoran of BenningtonCourcelle of Rutland CityHowrigan of FairfieldLanpher of VergennesPeaslee of GuildhallWAYS & MEANSObuchowski, Chair of RockinghamAncel, Vice-Chair of CalaisBranagan ® of GeorgiaClarkson of WoodstockCondon of ColchesterHoward of RutlandHube of LondonderryMasland of ThetfordSharpe of BristolWinters of WilliamstownZuckerman of Burlingtonlast_img read more

Historic CVPS hydro facility in St Johnsbury gets makeover

first_imgAn historic hydro-electric facility that has produced renewable energy for 81 years is getting a substantial overall starting today. Central Vermont Public Service is beginning extensive improvements to the company s Arnold Falls hydroelectric project, located on Mill Street along the Passumpsic River in Saint Johnsbury. The existing structures, similar to those originally constructed during the 19th Century for nearby mills, consist of two rock-filled, timber-crib dams with concrete abutments. Though the deteriorating timber dams will remain in place, new concrete dams will be built adjacent to them to ensure the facility s long-term future. This is a nice little site, producing an average of 1,112,328 kilo-watt hours of electricity annually over the past 10 years, CVPS spokesman Steve Costello said. At peak water flows, this facility can power 200 homes with clean, renewable energy. After construction, we expect slightly improved production, possibly as much as an additional 120,000 kilowatt-hours annually.The federally licensed generating station, which was built in 1928, includes two timber-crib dams separated by an island. The 189-foot north dam and 66-foot south dam consist of interlocked logs, which have a limited life span due to the riverine exposure and the inevitable decay of wood.CVPS made substantial repairs to the Arnold Falls dams in the 1940s. In 1976 and 1977, CVPS reconstructed the dams using logs from a local sawmill, and in recent years the company has made ongoing repairs. Compression of rotting logs has allowed the crest of the timber-crib structures to settle to the point that the improvements are necessary.The existing timber-crib dam structures will serve as coffer dams during construction. Although the timber-crib dams will remain submerged in the Passumpsic River after construction of the new dams, they will be somewhat visible and continue to represent the original structural design of the hydroelectric station. The new dams will be constructed one at a time, starting with the north dam. Bancroft Contracting Corp. of South Paris, Maine is expected to complete the project this fall.Each new dam will consist of a concrete structure cast in place immediately downstream of the existing timber-crib structures. Flashboards atop the north dam and a crest control system atop the south dam will stabilize the water level in the impoundment.Work on the $1.3 million project is not expected to reduce station generation during construction. We expect to be able to complete the project with minimal, if any, impact on power production, Costello said. That s good for our customers today, and the improvements mean the facility will continue to produce low-cost, no-emissions energy for our customers for years to come.The Arnold Falls facility is one of 20 owned and operated by CVPS across the state. Along with power supply contracts and other generation projects, they help provide CVPS customers with the lowest rates of any major utility in New England, according to the Edison Electric Institute, and Vermont with the lowest air emissions in the country.last_img read more

State of Vermont to unveil six new veteran license plates

first_imgThe State of Vermont will unveil six new veteran license plates during a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. January 28th in the Cedar Creek Room at the State House. During the ceremony, Department of Motor Vehicle Commissioner Robert Ide will unveil plates honoring veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War.  The first recipient of a new plate will be Vermont National Guard Adjutant General, Major General Michael Dubie, who will receive a plate honoring his service in Iraq. The new plates will be available to eligible veterans beginning February 3rd. “There is no additional fee for the new recognition license plates, and veterans can apply to receive them at any time,” Ide said. “To be eligible, veterans must have served in the combat theater that is recognized by the plate for which they apply.” These new plates will not supplant other veteran plates already offered by the state. DMV will continue to provide all existing veteran related license plates, which include the plate displaying a U.S. flag and plates honoring Purple Heart recipients, Pearl Harbor Survivors, and former Prisoners of War.The new plates are possible because of a 2008 change in state law that gives the Department of Motor Vehicles working in conjunction with the Office of Veterans Affairs greater flexibility in creating new license plates to recognize military service.  The two organizations hope to have another round of new veteran-recognition plates available by the end of the year that will recognize the five military branches, retired military members, disabled veterans, and combat decorated veterans.Questions regarding eligibility for the new plates should be directed to the Office of Veterans Affairs at (802) 828-3379.  Questions regarding vehicle registrations should be directed to the Department of Motor Vehicles at (802) 828-2000.Source: VTrans. 1.27.2010last_img read more

President signs Leahy-authored reauthorization of satellite TV licenses

first_imgPresident Obama has signed into law legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy to reauthorize satellite television licenses and to modernize satellite television services.  The legislation will particularly benefit Vermonters in Bennington and Windham counties, who now may be able to receive Burlington networks through DISH, in addition DirecTV.  The President signed the bill into law on Thursday.“Vermonters are connected by the programming the state’s networks provide to television viewers, and with this new law, they can depend on continued service from satellite television providers,” said Leahy.  “I urge DISH network to quickly work to exercise its new license to bring Burlington programming to Vermonters in Bennington and Windham counties. The news and information provided by Vermont stations to Vermonters should be available to consumers throughout the state.”The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) will reauthorize expiring statutory licenses that permit satellite providers to retransmit broadcast stations to consumers.  It will also modernize and simplify the licenses, while making adjustments that will encourage satellite providers to make more local content available.  The legislation includes a provision that will particularly benefit Bennington and Windham counties, allowing DISH Network viewers, like DirecTV viewers, to receive Vermont broadcast stations by satellite.  In addition, the legislation solves the so-called “cable phantom signal” problem which, if left unaddressed, would lead to higher prices and fewer regional stations for Vermont cable customers.Key provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act will:· Protect broadcasters’ multicast programming from distant signal duplication beginning on October 1, for multicast programming that existed as of March 31, 2010; and on January 1, 2011, for all other multicast programming.· Expand access to low power stations by broadening the license for low power stations to cover the entire local market.  Currently, a satellite provider can only carry a low power station within 20-35 miles of the station’s transmitter, which as a practical matter makes it nearly impossible for a satellite provider to use.· Improve the ability of satellite providers to serve short markets with local signals by fixing the “Grade B Bleed” issue in which an out-of-market station serves some households within a market, preventing a satellite carrier from using the distant signal license to provide an affiliate of that network to the entire DMA.· Expand access to public television by permitting a satellite provider to carry a noncommercial educational broadcast station from within a consumer’s state if the station is part of a state-wide network, even if the station is licensed to a community in a different local market. · Make numerous updates in the distant signal license to take account of the transition from analog to digital television and moves quasi-local signals (e.g., significantly viewed, local low power, special exceptions) from the distant signal license to the local license.· Address the “phantom signal” issue in which, under current law, cable providers may be required to pay royalty fees based on subscribers who do not receive the content for which the royalty is being paid. · Provide an incentive for DISH Network to provide local service in all 210 DMAs. · Extend the distant signal license until the end of 2014.Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing in March 2009 about the importance of ensuring television carriage in the digital age.  Leahy invited Vermont State Senator Robert Hartwell of Dorset, Vermont, to testify at the hearing.  Senator Hartwell testified about the importance of providing Vermonters in Bennington and Windham counties with access to Burlington stations through satellite television providers.Source: Leahy’s office. WASHINGTON (Friday, May 28, 2010) –# # # # #last_img read more

GreenPath Debt Solutions of Michigan acquires CCCS of NH and Vermont

first_imgGreenPath, Inc., a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency doing business as GreenPath Debt Solutions, announced today that it has acquired the assets of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of New Hampshire and Vermont. GreenPath is now providing free debt counseling and financial education from offices in Concord, Dover, Keene, Lebanon, Manchester, and Nashua, New Hampshire; and in Barre, Burlington, and Rutland, Vermont.GreenPath is committed to strengthening local services. “We are looking forward to providing our GreenPath products and services to residents of New Hampshire and Vermont,” said Jane McNamara, president and CEO, GreenPath, Inc. “CCCS of New Hampshire and Vermont’s long history of providing local services will continue and expand under the GreenPath name.”Consumers can access GreenPath services in person, by phone or through the Internet. Services include debt and credit counseling, personalized budgeting, housing counseling, financial education, and bankruptcy counseling. GreenPath also offers debt management programs, which may help stop collection calls, lower interest rates, eliminate late fees and lower monthly payments. In addition, GreenPath staff will conduct community education outreach and workshops throughout the area.”Since 1972, CCCS of New Hampshire and Vermont has helped more than 100,000 people with their personal finances,” remarked Kerry York , group manager, GreenPath Debt Solutions and former executive director of CCCS of New Hampshire and Vermont. “We are excited about combining operations with GreenPath to provide even more efficient and effective products and services to our clients.”With the acquisition, GreenPath now offers face-to-face appointments at 55 offices in ten states. The company also offers services by phone and Internet throughout the United States. For more information about GreenPath Debt Solutions, visit www.greenpath.com(link is external) or call (866) 648-8122.About GreenPath Debt SolutionsGreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Our customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. We also deliver licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Our professional counselors are certified by the NFCC, and we are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).SOURCE GreenPath Debt Solutions FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/last_img read more

GMP nearly completes power restoration from Hurricane Irene

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,Green Mountain Power has restored power to all of its customers affected by Hurricane Irene, with the exception of customers whose homes or businesses were flooded and required inspection by state officials before power could be restored safely. Of the 338 customers currently without power, we have received inspection certificates for 20 of them and are working now to restore power to those customers tonight. We will continue to restore power to customers as their inspections are completed in the coming days. More than 40,000 outages were reported during the storm. If any customer does not have power and does not need electrical inspection due to flooding, they should call Green Mountain Power at 1-888-835-4672. (1-888-TEL-GMPC). “Hurricane Irene caused so much devastation across Vermont, and I’m glad that we could help ease some of the pain by restoring power very quickly to our customers,” said Mary Powell, GMP president and chief executive officer. “Our extensive planning and preparation really paved the way for us to respond quickly and effectively for our customers.”GMP essentially doubled its workforce by bringing in additional line workers and tree trimmers and spreading them around the state where they were needed. GMP also pre-staged most of its office staff to locations around the state to handle the logistics of managing to feed, house and supply the army of responders.Green Mountain Power restored power throughout the storm, working day and night. At no point were more than 12,000 customers without power at the same time, but a total of 40,000 customer outages were recorded.GMP officials expect that of the customers without power that do not need electrical inspections, all will be restored this evening, with the possible exception of an off-road location in Moretown that needs specialized equipment that is currently en route.As restoration efforts wind down, Green Mountain Power has sent many of the additional line workers and tree trimmers to Central Vermont Public Service and other utilities across New England still experiencing large numbers of customer outages.GMP will restore power to the flooded customers in Wilmington and Waterbury as they complete the required safety inspections. It is expected that those restorations will continue throughout the week.About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in Vermont and is a leader in wind and solar generation. It serves more than 96,000 customers. www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external). COLCHESTER, VT–(Marketwire – August 30, 2011) –last_img read more

Vermont weekly unemployment claims spike over the holidays

first_imgVermont Labor Force StatisticsSeasonally Adjusted There were 2,065 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, as claims spiked over the holidays, from what was a relatively high level. New claims increased 376 from the week before but are still below last year’s total.Altogether 9,866 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 1,116 from a week ago but 3,390 fewer than a year ago. The Department also processed 1,556 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), one more than a week ago. In addition, there were 634 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is 8 fewer than the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)  Vermont’s unemployment rate fell three-tenths to 5.3 percent in November. See story HERE. Total Labor Force363,200362,800360,8004002,400  Employment344,100342,400339,8001,7004,300  Unemployment19,10020,30021,000-1,200-1,900  Rate5.3%5.6%5.8%-0.3-0.5 November  2011 October  2011 November  2010 October  2011 November  2010  Change to         November 2011 from   last_img read more