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Friday, June 1, 2018

Walters: Vermont House Advances Budget Bill

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 7:03 PM

  • File: Jeb Wallace-brodeur
  • Mitzi Johnson
After a long Friday of meetings, floor debates and two consecutive fire alarms, the Vermont House advanced a budget bill that would exclude areas of disagreement with Gov. Phil Scott, who had vetoed the legislature's original budget over concerns about property taxes and school spending.

The vote was 86-44, and broke essentially along party lines. The bill must gain approval on a second vote, to be taken on Tuesday. It would then move to the Senate, most likely next Thursday.

And at the end of all this is a near-certain gubernatorial veto.

Scott has insisted on two key points: Using onetime money to prevent increases in either homestead or nonresidential property tax rates, and enacting a five-year plan to curtail school spending. The House bill would keep homestead rates at current levels, but allow an increase in nonresidential rates mandated by existing law.

In a memo to legislative leaders sent on Thursday, Administration Secretary Susanne Young expressed the governor's opposition to the bill because it would only keep homestead tax rates level. She wrote that under the bill as it stood, "meaningful and good faith conversations on preventing an increase for the non-residential payers cannot occur."

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Nurses, UVM Medical Center Remain at Odds Over Contract

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 6:38 PM

Nurses clapping at Friday's press conference - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses clapping at Friday's press conference
Amidst a tense contract bargaining negotiation, nurses at the University of Vermont Medical Center announced at a press conference Friday morning that they had filed a complaint against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board. The nurses allege twenty labor violations, including unlawful unilateral changes to staffing grids and unlawful ordering of employees to remove union buttons.

Friday was meant to be the final day of negotiations, but six hours after the morning event, union leaders told hundreds of nurses and community members packed inside the Davis Auditorium that no deal had been made. The current contract is scheduled to expire on July 9.

Leaders called for members of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, which represents about 1,800 nurses at UVM Medical Center, to attend an all-member meeting on June 6 to voice their opinions on the union's bottom line and the methods they should use to obtain their goals.

Earlier in the day, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, rallied with the nurses outside of the hospital. The national labor leader called for the hospital to care for its community and spend money on nurses rather than on administrative salaries.

“You're acting like the Trump administration, not like a Vermont administration,” Weingarten said.

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Officers Involved in Fatal Interstate 89 Shooting Won't Face Charges

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 3:35 PM

Bram Kranichfeld of the Vermont Attorney General's Office speaks. - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Bram Kranichfeld of the Vermont Attorney General's Office speaks.
Two police officers were justified in shooting a suicidal man last February along Interstate 89 in Richmond, according to the Vermont Attorney General's Office and the Chittenden County State's Attorney.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced Friday that Vermont State Police Trooper Christopher Brown and Richmond Police Officer Richard Greenough will not face charges for fatally shooting 42-year-old Benjamin Gregware of Sheldon.

Donovan called shootings such as this "tragedies any way you look at it." He offered condolences to Gregware's family, as well as the officers involved.

Donovan was joined by members of the Vermont State Police and Richmond Police Department, along with Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George, who said her office would not press charges and considered the matter closed.

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