Also, state law enforcement and Border Patrol to discuss uptick in border crossings
By Guy Page
He’s thankful for the Canadian power line workers who helped their Vermont brethren restore power to thousands of Vermonters following this past weekend’s blizzard. But Gov. Phil Scott is worried about the storm predicted for this Christmas weekend.
The combination of heavy snow, rain and possibly ice represent bad timing for the holiday weekend, Gov. Scott warned at his press conference today. He said state transportation officials are prepping for the storm event, which will occur as many Vermonters are traveling.
As of today, outages from last weekend’s storm are under 1000, Scott said. Yesterday morning there were over 8,000. Wet, heavy snow led to outages, concentrated mostly in the eastern and southern regions of the state.
Other topics covered at the press conference:
The reported layoff of 148 workers at Global Foundries in Essex Junction “seems to be the way of the world with global supply chain starts and stops,” Scott said. He sees a silver lining – help with Vermont’s chronic worker shortage: “I’m sure we can find jobs for those who wish to continue.”
$329,000 in cannabis excise tax receipts in November: “For those who are counting on this to be the answer to our budgetary concerns, this is not the best initiative to follow.” Many Vermonters apparently want to smoke marijuana tax-free, he added.
Working more with Border Patrol to slow illegal entry under consideration – Vermont Daily Chronicle asked, “Illegal entry in the Swantor Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol is up about 700% in October and November. Given the possibility that Title 42 may be revoked despite the current stay issued by the Supreme Court, are you concerned about increased illegal entry and if so will state law enforcement ramp up its cooperation with federal law enforcement?
“I’m always concerned about illegal entry into the state,” Scott said. He then handed the question off to Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison, who said “of course we are concerned about data like this,” and that Vermont will participate in a briefing by the Border Patrol, which will include discussion of “increased collaboration.”
However, Morrison stopped short of promising more state-fed collaboration. “We have to hear more about the context….without more meat on the bones, I’m hesitant to commit…. We need to be fully briefed up before going forward.” Morrison said she’s unaware of what is driving the increase in illegal crossings.
Banning Tik-Tok? The State of Vermont is studying whether to follow suit of other jurisdictions and ban the use of TikTok, the Chinese social media app, on State of Vermont hardware.
Regulatory changes, not more spending, solution to housing shortage – A reporter asked if the State of Vermont will increase spending on housing. Noting that Vermont already committed more than $100 million last year, Scott suggested a different tack: “How do we make it less expensive to build housing, so that private companies can get into something that’s lucrative for them?”
Until recently, Vermont didn’t rely on state spending to boost housing, Scott noted. “We never did this before, to that magnitude. There was a way to provide deceent affordable housing before the government got involved.” He recommended “zoning changes. Act 250, regulation changes.”
Categories: State Government