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Legislative Notes for April 14, 2011

April 7, 2011

The Vermont Energy Act of 2011 H.56 came to the floor with its many sections and controversy.  The bill increased the amount of power individuals can generate on their premises, exempts IBM from paying an energy efficiency charge permanently, requires increased use of biodiesel over the next few years in home heating oil and included a new monthly fee of $.55 on every electricity meter in the state.  This fee is intended to fund a program that has historically been funded by the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.  This program known as the clean energy development fund was created to assist with the development of renewable energy projects within the state.  The funds from this program are used in conjunction with federal stimulus dollars to entice the development of wind and solar projects throughout Vermont.  Most legislators are celebrating the anticipated closure of the VY nuclear power plant in 2012.  I am not one of them and remain hopeful that there will be a resolution brought forth soon to allow it to continue operating as long as it is deemed safe.  This proposed new fee/tax is the first of many new or increased taxes/fees that will be assessed against you to compensate for the lost revenue from that facility when it is forced to close by this legislature.

The bill passed the House on a partisan vote Tuesday due to the inclusion of the new fees.  On Wednesday, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Governor had directed the Speaker to remove the new fee before giving final approval to the bill.  Our caucus had proposed several amendments on this bill, one even proposed to eliminate the fee.  The Speaker who was obviously frustrated by the Governors action, then decided to have the committee propose another amendment which eliminated the fee rather than to allow our amendment which removed the fee to pass.  In the end, I feel that it doesn’t matter who gets credit for eliminating the new tax as long as it was removed.  At a time when Vermonters are struggling to pay their energy bills, we should not be raising or creating new fees/taxes.  I voted in favor of the amendment to remove the new fee and for passage of the bill after the fee was removed.

Establishing a government transparency office to enforce the public records act H.73 was brought to the floor by my seat-mate Ron Hubert.  He did a great job reporting the bill and while under interrogation.  The bill was not well received by several members, which led to much debate on the floor.  Several amendments were proposed and defeated by the super-majority.  I was one of five people who decided to vote against the bill after listening to the debate.  I believe in open and transparent government but, feel that this bill will place an additional burden upon the towns at a time when funding is very limited.

As your representative, I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you.  During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is My web-site address is Thank you and have a great week.


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