Friday, April 24, 2015

WVTK Local & State News April 24, 2015

Governor Peter Shumlin says he will sign the gun bill that has passed both the House and Senate. The bill awaiting the governor’s signature makes it a crime at the state level for some convicts to possess a firearm. It also requires that the state report to a federal database the names of people found by a court to be mentally ill and a danger to themselves or others. Shumlin said the bill was scaled back enough for him to drop his own objections.

The tax-writing committee of the Vermont House has approved a series of new tax levies targeting soda, candy and vending machine sales. The round of tax increases is expected to raise nearly $9 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and nearly $12 million the year after that. Taxes would also go up for cigarettes and other tobacco products. The House Ways and Means Committee voted earlier today to apply Vermont's 6 percent sales tax to soda and candy for the first time. Sales from vending machines would be subject to the state's 9 percent meals tax.

The Brandon Selectboard will be asking voters to approve a 1-percent local option tax. They want to use the money raised from the new tax for infrastructure work. If approved by voters and the Legislature, a new charter will enable the selectboard to levy a 1 percent local tax on sales, a 1 percent local tax on hotel rooms, and a 1 percent local tax on meals and alcoholic beverages. Officials say the tax would bring in around $130,000 a year for Brandon to spend on sidewalks, road and bridge repair, and vehicle maintenance and replacement.

A bill that would boost incentives for Vermont's smaller school districts that merged into larger ones is advancing. It was unanimously approved Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee. The vote followed a public hearing on the bill at the Statehouse that was attended by nearly 100 people. The House passed a significantly different version earlier this month.

The Vermont House has passed legislation that would require employers to give workers paid time off. The bill, which passed on a 72-63 vote, would require that employees be given up to three paid days off a year starting in January and five days beginning in 2018. It would apply to employees who are sick, those who need to care for a sick family member and those who need to be absent for safety reasons, for instance in a domestic violence situation.