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New Vermont laws take effect

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A series of new and altered fees take effect July 1, covering everything from funerals to lotto tickets. Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding says the changes are expected to raise less than half-a-million dollars. He says this year many of the fee hikes are meant to cover the cost of regulating various industries.

"One thing to recognize about fee increases as opposed to tax increases is that they are related to the cost of providing a service," Spaulding said.

  • Historic sites will be allowed to charge up to $12 per ticket, up from a high of $8.
  • Going to court will cost you more, including filing for divorce, the cost of which will rise by $5 for Vermonters, $10 for out of state residents.
  • Mobile home park owners will owe the state more for every occupied lot.
  • Lobbying firms will pay more than twice as much per lobbyist as they did last year.
  • Lobbyists will see their rate per employer triple from $5 to $15.
  • The cost of renewing a nursing license jumps $45, while the cost for optometrists dropped by about 20 percent from $525 to $425.

"I heard some of the fees that were coming in, yes, and some of them I just don't agree with," said Ed McMahon of Burlington.

  • A license to sell lottery tickets will cost more scratch, but a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary will now cost $25,000 a year, down from the previous mark of $30,000.
  • Death and taxes are frequently referred to as the only certainties in life, and this year licenses for funerals and crematories are rising by 67 percent. Those that do both, will be double-billed.

"Taxes of course are always going up, so it's probably just a way around that, just sounds better," said Peter Bahrenburg of Burlington.

"I can't say that in some year in the past the Legislature might've raised some fees to provide general revenues, but that's not what's intended in the fee bill and that's not what we proposed, not what the Legislature did this year," Spaulding said.

A few of the new fees did go into effect last month when Governor Shumlin signed the bill. A new fee for beekeepers won't go into effect until next year.

But July 1 is essentially the default start date for legislation. Among the high-profile measures starting July 1-- new restrictions for development around lakes, a policy allowing doctors to treat long-term Lyme disease without facing sanction and a measure allowing dairy farmers to sell raw milk at farmers markets.

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