By Evan Johnson
Growing the Rutland region’s economy was the a subject of discussion at a legislative breakfast in downtown Rutland on Monday morning. The March 6 meeting organized by the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce and the Rutland Economic Development Corp. featured a panel of three representatives and one senator from their respective committees on transportation, education, economic development and appropriations. Sen. Butch Shaw (R – Rutland 6) moderated the discussion.
Sen. Peg Flory (R – Rutland) is a member of the House Transportation Committee and chairs the Senate Institutions Committee. Flory said the major project for the Rutland region will be in Brandon on Route 7 and will be going out to bid this summer.
Flory also dispelled rumors regarding new car inspections, which will be implemented this year.
“What you’re hearing is primarily false, frankly,” she said.
Flory said the criteria for annual car inspections remainunchanged, but will be evaluated electronically to prevent car owners from looking for a more lenient inspection. The average cost of an inspection will increase by $12, Flory said.
Flory also said the committee is also looking at assessing an additional use tax on electric and hybrid vehicles.
Rep. Larry Cupoli (R – Rutland 5-2) said the House Committee on Education on which he serves was starting to focus on expanding technical education and making classes available to students at one of the state’s 17 technical education centers.
“One of the issues we’re facing is Vermont is becoming quite old,” he said. “We’re losing our plumbers, electrician and carpenters to age.”
Cupoli also expressed optimism in the rollout of Act 46, which requires Vermont’s smaller school to create or join larger school districts. Some 53 towns voted on unification measures around the state on Tuesday’s Town Meeting Day. He also answered questions on
Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan (D – Bennington, Rutland) serves on the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development and said her committee has worked on a bill regulating the captive insurance industry in the state. The entrance of ride-sharing company Uber in the state has also presented new questions on insurance.
Sullivan also said her committee has heard testimony from young professionals and looking to stem the flow of young people from the state.
“The key with millennials is they want to come here,” she said. “They just don’t want to be told what types of jobs to do. They want to actually work with good broadband. They’re on electronics. They’re entire social culture is different than what we do and we have to figure out how to work with them.”