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Health premium increases of 16%-19% projected for 2025

May 22, 2024
Vermonters are again facing steep upward premium growth for 2025 due to the cumulative impact of hospital costs, drug prices and state health care policy choices. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont projects that these trends will continue and will require rate increases of 16.3% for individual health plans and 19.1% for the small group…

Gov. Scott vetoes bill that would’ve restricted bee-killing pesticide

May 22, 2024
Staff report On Monday, May 20, World Bee Day, Gov. Phil Scott vetoed legislation meant to protect bees and other pollinators from a widely-used neuorotoxic pesticide. The bill (H.706) would  eliminate most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) in Vermont, which have been associated with alarming losses of managed and wild bee populations. Neonic insecticides are used on…

Health premium increases of 16%-19% projected for 2025

May 22, 2024
Vermonters are again facing steep upward premium growth for 2025 due to the cumulative impact of hospital costs, drug prices and state health care policy choices. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont projects that these trends will continue and will require rate increases of 16.3% for individual health plans and 19.1% for the small group…

Sanders: weight loss drugs could bankrupt U.S. health care

May 22, 2024
As part of his investigation into the outrageously high price of Ozempic and Wegovy in the U.S., U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a stunning new report May 15 exposing the potential of weight loss drugs to bankrupt American health care. In the report, HELP…

The future of fertilizer? Pee, says this Brattleboro institute

May 22, 2024
By Kate Kampner, Community News Service Editor’s note: The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost. When Peter Stickney walks along his cow paddocks in the morning, he notes the scattered patches of greener grass across the…

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Vermont Legislature adjourns after a contentious 2024 session

May 15, 2024
Session was shaped by debates over property taxes, housing shortages, flood recovery and public safety By Sarah Mearhoff and Shaun Robinson/VTDigger After a tumultuous day of dealmaking on housing, land use and property tax measures, the Vermont Legislature adjourned its 2024 session in the early hours of Saturday morning, May 11. The Senate gaveled out at 1:18 a.m.…

New data shows first decrease in Vermont opioid deaths since 2019

May 15, 2024
Overdose deaths in Vermont have decreased for the first time since 2019. According to the Dept. of Health’s newly released Annual Fatal Overdose Report, opioid-related overdoses resulted in the death of 231 Vermonters in 2023, a 5% drop from 2022 when 244 Vermonters died. The overdose report includes data on Vermonters who died of any drug…

Safe bet

May 15, 2024
After a week of long days and late nights, the regular session of the 2024 Vermont Legislature adjourned early Saturday morning just after 2 a.m. My best guess in the annual adjournment pool was 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, which turned out to be way too optimistic. When the Legislature finishes its work for the session,…

A lot accomplished this Legislative session

May 15, 2024
Vermont’s 2023-24 Legislative Biennium ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning May 11. The Senate gaveled out at 1:18 a.m. and the House about 2 a.m. This has been a hard session. It was begun in the wake of a natural disaster, with a state recovering from terrible flooding. Despite these challenges we managed…

Vt Legislature passes bill to create uniform ethical standards in local government

May 15, 2024
By Shaun Robinson/VTDigger Vermont lawmakers have passed a bill that would create new uniform ethical standards for many local government officials — a change that proponents said is long overdue. H.875 would establish a “municipal code of ethics” that’s similar to one for state officials that went into effect two years ago. The new code would apply to local…

Vermont Senate passes Act 250 reform bill after whirlwind debate

May 8, 2024
It’s not the end of the road for the bill, which seeks to make major changes to the state’s half-century-old land use law By Carly Berlin Editor’s note: This story, by Report for America corps member Carly Berlin, was produced through a partnership between VTDigger and Vermont Public. After a flurry of last-minute deliberations, the Vermont…

Vt Senate passes modernized Renewable Energy Standard

May 8, 2024
Tuesday, May 7, the Vermont Senate passed H.289, to modernize the Renewable Energy Standard and set Vermont on a path to delivering 100% renewable electricity across all the state’s utilities by 2035. This would make Vermont only the second state to meet that critical benchmark, and would significantly increase the requirements for Vermont utilities to…

A gamble?

May 8, 2024
Despite my reputation at the State House as a promoter of our annual March Madness pool and making a couple of announcements about the adjournment pool, I am not a gambler. If you ever saw me in a casino during my former career attending a conference, at best, you may have found me at the…

Legislators debating bill to stem repeat shoplifters and clear up court backlogs

May 8, 2024
By Norah White, Community News Service Editor’s note: The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost. Lawmakers are weighing a bill to punish repeat shoplifters who otherwise would only face a string of misdemeanors — a move…

Grants offered to supportmusic in Vermont schools

May 8, 2024
Governor Phil Scott and Ernie Boch Jr. today announced, Monday, April 15, the launch of a new grant program aimed at supporting music programs in Vermont schools. The program will be run in coordination with Mr. Boch’s foundation, Music Drives Us (MDU), a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to inspire New England’s musicians of tomorrow by supporting…

Hartland Garden Club told to relocate annual plant sale from Damon Hall

May 1, 2024
The Hartland Garden Club (HGC) has run an annual plant sale for 25 years in front of Damon Hall, but new town manager John Broker-Campbell notified HGC president Dan Talbot the sale could not take place at Damon Hall on May 18 as planned. By Curt Peterson He cited a 1995 town “Vendors Ordinance” clearly…

The final two-week countdown

May 1, 2024
There are about two weeks left in Vermont’s 2024 Legislative Session. This is not a lot of time to negotiate policy differences between the House and the Senate. A great deal of policy work is still not settled, which concerns me. I am not a fan of the work that is often done in the…

Could be a bumpy ride?

May 1, 2024
The last few weeks of the legislative session often contain a bit of theater, eureka moments, surprises, and just plain old disagreements. With the legislature scheduled to adjourn on May 10, the next two weeks could prove interesting. Major legislation, such as the state budget, education property tax rates, higher electric costs related to the…

VHFA awards $40 million for affordable housing

April 24, 2024
Rutland and Woodstock are two of the five communities selected for apartment developments The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners announced April 15, that its annual award of federal housing tax credits will support the construction of 156 in “perpetually affordable” apartment buildings in five communities across the state. The sale of this…

‘Like brushing your teeth’: Bill cuts red tape around sunscreen in schools

April 24, 2024
Currently, putting on sunscreen in Vt. schools is regulated like medicine By Holly Sullivan, Community News Service Editor’s note: The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost. Despite being one of the cloudiest and coldest states, Vermont…