By Guy Page
For decades, David Blittersdorf has been an advocate, planner and builder of Vermont ridgeline wind power. This week he pulled the plug on his Kidder Hill project in Newport and told WCAX he plans to build wind power in other states. Vermont just doesn’t support wind power anymore, he said:
“With our goal of hitting 90 percent renewables by 2050, we have to go faster than we were before, but now we’re being slowed down due to the rules and the present administration that wants to see that some things don’t happen…..How come we started to lead on renewables? I want to make Vermont the example of how to do this. Instead, we are going backward really, really fast right now….. As far as I know from other people out there, no one else is considering wind in Vermont and the chilling effect of the sounds rules and all these other things is really happening.”
Blittersdorf’s company, All Earth Renewables, now has just one Vermont wind farm in-the-making: Dairy Air Wind in Holland. According to WCAX, “Blittersdorf says he’s trading Vermont for states that will let him do his part to stop climate change.”
Video game – school shooting connection study recommended – A Rutland House representative wants Vermont to study the connection between video games and school shootings.
Rep. Doug Gage, R-Rutland, on Friday, March 23 asked the full House of Representatives to allocate $5000 for the creation of an 11-member “Violent and Graphic Video Games and School Shooting Task Force” to study the connection between violent videos and school shooting. He withdrew the request after learning that the Scott administration may study the issue. He plans to introduce a non-binding resolution stressing the importance of the study.
Meanwhile, S.55, a gun-control bill prompted by school shooting concern, was approved by the House this week and returned to the Senate for review. Some Senate leaders have expressed concern about the House’s restrictions on gun magazine size. S.55 has undergone 14 rolls, a very high number for any piece of legislation. Click here to see how representatives voted on the final House roll call.
Fossil fuel divestment decision delayed – A decision on divesting fossil fuel stocks from 20 percent of the Vermont State College (VSC) investment portfolio was postponed until June due to a lack of quorum at a VSC board of trustees meeting last week. The vote was 7-2 in favor last week, but at least eight “yes” votes were required from the 15-member board. Rep. Dylan Giambatista, D-Essex Junction, said a vote likely will be held at the June meeting. The VSC finance subcommittee approved the plan in February.
Full Medicaid reimbursement for elective contraception procedure – H.404, requiring Medicaid to reimburse health care providers for the full cost of a long-acting reversible contraceptive inserted during a post-partum hospital stay, passed the House March 21 and has been referred to Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
H.693, naming the Honor and Remember Flag (scroll down page) the official state veterans’ flag, received Senate preliminary approval Tuesday, March 27. H.693 was sponsored by Rep. Vicki Strong of Albany, the Gold Star mother of Marine Jesse Strong, and passed quickly through the House.
H615, banning drones outside of a correctional facility, received preliminary Senate approval Tuesday March 27. Intended to reduce the flow of contraband, the bill was sponsored by members of the House committee with Corrections Department oversight, and passed the House earlier this month.
A Tuesday, March 27 House Human Services Committee “walk-through” of S.216, the medical marijuana expansion bill, was cancelled Tuesday March 27 because committee members and the rest of the full House spent virtually all day discussing gun control bills. A walk-through is a quick look led by legislative lawyers, in anticipation of further testimony and discussion.
The House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs will hold a committee hearing on S.40, a bill relating to increasing the minimum wage, on Thursday, April 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Passage of S.40 would lead to a $15 minimum wage by 2024. Its passage would result in significant job losses, pressure on the State budget, and lost tax and other benefits for some working families, critics say. The hearing will take place in Room 11, located on the first floor of the Statehouse, near the main entrance. Witnesses can start signing up to speak at 5 p.m. Witness testimony will be limited to only two, or three minutes. The Committee will also accept written testimony.
How do we spend $5.8 billion? Frugal Vermonters may be forgiven for wondering how the State of Vermont plans to spend the proposed $5.8 billion 2019 budget approved Friday night by the Vermont House, and now going to the Senate. A graph for the highly similar 2018 budget is instructive: 31 percent to education, 30 percent for Medicaid and long term care, 10 percent for transportation, and 10 percent for non-Medicaid human services. Everything else – natural resource, higher education, economic development, and corrections, and public safety – was in the single digits.
Rep. Kevin “Coach” Christie (Hartford) was confirmed last week as chair of Vermont Human Rights Commission.
Finally, Sen. Margaret “Peg” Flory (Rutland) announced she will not run for re-election. The plain-speaking leader for economic growth and traditional social policies has spent 20 years in the Vermont Legislature, the last nine in the Senate.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, Divestment Facts, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Church at Prison.