Amidst a welter of heated tempers and frenzied activity, the 2012 legislative session concluded on the evening of Saturday, May 5 – after which, Vermont headed into the campaign season. The last few days of the session were chaotic and unusual in that the budget was not the last game in town. The budget conference committee report – which reconciled the differences in the House- and Senate-passed versions of H.781 – was adopted on May 4. Yet many bills – quite a few of which affect local governments – hung in the balance until late Saturday.
On balance, legislators were kind to local government this session. To a person, they and the governor came to the State House in January committed to helping municipalities recover from the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene. That commitment took many forms: delaying education payments to the state; helping abate property taxes of property owners hard hit by the storm; providing funds for infrastructure repair; and helping local governments and individuals build homes, businesses, roads, and farms that are more resilient than those that were lost. As Governor Shumlin said in his State of the State speech last January, “Perhaps the greatest lesson that we can take from the challenge of the previous four months is that despite Irene’s devastation, despite our heartbreak and pain, we are bound by common purpose” ... At a time when many of America’s cities and communities beyond Vermont’s borders often seem more divided than united, our little state has distinguished itself. ... By continuing to set aside what divides us and finding common ground to unite us, we will rebuild our state ....”
With a few notable exceptions, that is pretty much what happened this year under the golden dome, as you will read in our 2012 Legislative Wrap-up.
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