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Legislative Notes for February 27, 2014

February 23, 2014

Another legislative week has passed with very little being done to address the skyrocketing education property taxes or the faltering health exchange known as Vermont Health Connect. I feel that these two issues are by far the most important issues of this session and will have the most immediate impact on you.  However, seven weeks into a sixteen week session it is becoming very apparent that leadership is choosing to ignore these tough issues. This being an election year, it is likely that there will be little or no action to resolve these tough and potentially controversial issues. I find it very frustrating that the legislative leadership is choosing to do very little or nothing to address these very important issues.

I have previously reported that the Tax Commissioner is proposing a 7 cent increase on the heels of last years 5 cent increase to the statewide education property tax rate on both residential and non-residential properties. The legislature takes this information along with many other factors into consideration to set the actual statewide rate. In my time in the legislature, this is the first time that the House has decided not to set the statewide education property tax rate prior to Town Meeting. I have been told by the Speaker that it is not important because the House bill doesn’t become law until after Town Meeting and therefore the rate is only preliminary. I disagree and feel that it is important information for voters to have prior to going to the polls to vote on their school budgets. Further, I feel that the entire system is broken and the legislature must take action to address this issue as soon as possible.

I continue to hear from constituents that are having problems purchasing health insurance on the Vermont health exchange. With another looming deadline for signing up, a number of people have called to express their frustration with this system that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. I have continued to be critical of the system and this week joined in on a letter to the US Attorney calling for an independent investigation into the Canadian company that has failed to meet most of the benchmarks spelled out in their contract. If you are having difficulties with Vermont Health Connect please feel free to call me and I will do my best to help.

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 dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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