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It's a wrap! The 2014 legislative session has adjourned - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

It's a wrap! The 2014 legislative session has adjourned

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MONTPELIER, Vt. - The last two weeks included early mornings and long nights, as lawmakers scrambled to meet the scheduled end date. Shortly after seven o'clock Saturday they crossed the finish line.

On the final day of the two-year legislative session, lawmakers turned their primary focus to money bills.

Before the final gavel fell Saturday, both chambers passed tax and spending plans, hammered out behind closed doors late Friday Night.

Lawmakers kept much of their floor debate short before passing the plan. The miscellaneous tax bill contains just less than six million dollars in new revenue and raises average property taxes for residents by five percent.

"Next year is going to be another substantially difficult year, we will be faced with the prospects of a health care finance proposal," said Sen. Tim Ashe, Democrat / Progressive of Chittenden County.

Holes filled by hiking the cigarette tax, public shaming of delinquent tax payers, and other changes won't be enough next year when the state could be looking at a 50 million dollar hole, even before a financing plan for single-payer is unveiled.

Senator Mark MacDonald chastised his colleagues for not acting years earlier when they lowered rates in the face of a coming crisis.

"The legislature reduced the tax rate when it was clear appraisals were going down, but the effect would not be fully appreciated for four years," said MacDonald, Democrat from Orange.

Both the Senate and House passed the tax plan with strong support by late afternoon and the budget before the sun went down. With haggling over money completed, argument transformed into conciliatory speeches, and the session ended with a speech from Gov. Shumlin to the House.

"Together we have made this biennium one of the most productive, successful sessions in recent memory. Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Said Governor Peter Shumlin.

The end of the legislature isn't the end for legislation. With his pen, the Governor will veto, or sign bills into law. A bill requiring the labeling of GMO products is expected to be challenged in a matter of weeks, and campaign season will begin almost as soon as candidates return home.
A bill reforming drugged driving laws narrowly survived, passing both chambers late in the day. However, a late effort to revive a stalled education governance consolidation bill did not succeed.
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