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Events, News, Blogs » Advocacy Blog
The legislature folded its tent last Saturday and headed home to the relief of everyone – including the legislators themselves. They managed to close a $133 million gap between budget and revenues with a combination of increased taxes and cuts. Even before the appropriations and revenue bills were signed, legislators understood that they will be facing a budget deficit of $50-70 million for fiscal year 2017 when they return in January. And those are just the General Fund money woes. Expect a similarly contentious session in 2016.
In Vermont, the first Tuesday in March marks an important event, Town Meeting Day, a tradition older than the state itself. (The first town meeting was held in Bennington, Vermont, in 1762, 15 years before the state of Vermont was created.) On Town Meeting Day, residents from towns across Vermont are given the opportunity discuss town issues and vote on their town budget for the following year.
Just in time for Town Meeting, Susan Clark and Frank Bryan have updated “All Those in Favor,” which was originally published in 2005. The update not only examines what changes have influenced Town Meeting in the past ten years but also where Vermonters may want to take Town Meeting in the future.
Legislation concerning water quality and Lake Champlain is everywhere in the State House this week. It’s in the House Corrections and Institutions, House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, House and Senate Transportation, House and Senate Agriculture, House Ways and Means, and Senate Natural Resources and Energy committees. The conversation has been about cleaning up the waters of the state, and everywhere the commitment to address phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain is evident. But how do we get there? What is the plan for local governments? Who pays?
On January 29, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns' Municipal Assistance Center hosted a day-long workshop on Act 148, the Universal Recycling Law. One hundred fourteen local officials, solid waste district and alliance members, and state Solid Waste Division staff attended. Morning sessions featured an overview of the law, its structure, mandates, and phase-in dates, and a review of variable rate pricing options and parallel collection, which is the requirement to provide recycling containers wherever trash containers are available. Alyssa Schuren, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, described the Agency of Natural Resources' implementation of Act 148 and how towns are affected by its requirements. A third session provided a roadmap for creating a Solid Waste Management Plan; the final session explored the role and findings of the Solid Waste Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which was formed as a result of 2014 legislation.