Government & Politics

When the First Continental Congress adjourned on this date in 1774, America was in chaos. What might happen next was anyone’s guess.

Responding to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament imposed the “Intolerable Acts”, harsh laws intended to punish Massachusetts and force the rest of the colonies into submission. They had the opposite effect, provoking widespread defiance, including calls for an inter-colonial congress.

Recently, top Republicans held a secret meeting to urge Libertarian Dan Feliciano to drop out of the governor’s race because they feel Feliciano is drawing votes away from GOP candidate Scott Milne.  

The effort was unsuccessful, and points to a continuing rift between two factions of the Vermont Republican Party.

Political analyst Eric Davis of Middlebury College looks at the role of voter turnout in statewide and legislative races and which parties are better organized for voter turnout; gives an update on the governor's race between incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne; and he describes a quietly-held meeting between the Milne campaign and Libertarian Dan Feliciano in which Republicans tried to convince Feliciano to leave the race.

Sen. Patrick Leahy is asking the nation’s largest Internet providers to make a concrete commitment that they will not pursue any plans to create so called “fast lanes” on the Internet.

Currently, the Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would allow Internet Service providers to create a new premium access service online.

Under this plan, the providers would charge an additional fee for businesses that want this new service. Businesses could use the faster lane to give their customers quicker access to the company website.

The Ebola virus has infected very few people in the United States, and none here in Vermont. But political debate about the disease has spread to the state’s congressional race. 

Incumbent Democrat Peter Welch and his Republican opponent Mark Donka have very different opinions about whether a travel ban is the best way to fight Ebola. 

Last spring the legislature passed a law requiring foods that contain genetically modified organisms – or GMOs- to be labeled. That labeling will go into effect in 2016, and the details of how that labeling would work were left up to the Attorney General to figure out.

The AG’s office has just released an early draft proposal of the GMO labeling rules. And the office is holding meetings around the state this week to give manufacturers, farmers, grocers, and regular citizens a chance to take a sneak peek.

Property tax reform has become a key issue in the race for lieutenant governor. Although the two leading candidates have very different plans to reduce tax burdens on the middle class, they both see an expanded role for state government in education funding.

Republican incumbent Phil Scott and his Progressive and Democratic challenger Dean Corren do agree on one thing: Many middle class families are getting hammered by higher property tax burdens.

Events this fall in Ferguson, Missouri, have vividly brought home to American living rooms the realization that police departments in many jurisdictions have become highly militarized, and instead of looking like the friendly neighborhood policeman, now resemble units of the Army’s 101st Airborne parachuted into the center of Afghanistan to find and kill the Taliban.

Last spring, the legislature passed a law requiring foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMO's, to be labeled. That labeling will go into effect in 2016 and the Attorney General's office has been working to come up with rules for what the labels will look like.

The state has just released a draft proposal of those rules and is holding informal meetings around the state this week to get public feedback.

Vermont’s state employees are going to be hit with a nearly 18 percent increase in their health care premiums. The increase is taking place because more state employees than projected were treated last year for cancer and heart disease. The increase came as a shock because the VSEA plan had no increases in the past two years.  

Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman says the increase is directly related to much higher than expected use of expensive health care services.

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