A wide variety of things to share with you this evening from a variety of state officials I was in touch with today.
First, my 3/16/20 update included some information from the VT Dept. of Labor for employers and employees regarding unemployment insurance. That Department has been overwhelmed in recent days with calls from laid-off workers looking to sign up for UI benefits who haven't been able to get through by phone. The Dept. of Labor put up this online form today to allow workers to sign up for benefits. I have had calls from constituents asking about expediting this process and I have been sending them to this link. Please pass it on.
Second, the Public Utilities Commission this morning ordered a temporary moratorium on involuntary electric and telecommunications disconnections effective immediately through April 30th. ECFiber has also put a temporary moratorium on disconnects. Green Mountain Power is deferring its previously approved 2.7% rate increase originally going into effect on April 1st until July 1st.
Third, questions have come up on rabies vaccine and licensing requirements for dogs and the April 1st deadline. Here is a link to the Agency of Agriculture's "non-helpful" guidance and municipal requirements for dog vaccination by April 1st. More helpfully (I hope), let me share what a number of towns around the state are doing in light of the inability to officially move this deadline. Select boards can authorize a change of the late vaccination fee to $0.00, while the unofficial deadline for vaccination can moved out into the future. (Waterbury went to April 30th, Highgate and Swanton went to June 1st)
Fourth, Homestead Tax filing deadlines are coming up and cannot be moved without legislative action. If the legislature, working with the VT Dept. of Taxes and the VT League of Cities Towns, pushes the Homestead Tax filing deadline out, this could have an effect on municipal finances. Nothing to announce yet, but those involved in municipal finance will want to keep an eye on this issue.
Fifth, on a conference call with the President Pro Temp of the Senate this afternoon, he mentioned that the Senate would be taking up the Open Meeting Law issue as soon as we are able to re-convene. I know this has been an issue for all public boards. It's on the radar screen, but the relief is probably weeks (not days) away.
Sixth, AoE and AHS today put out additional guidance regarding continuing childcare support for Essential Persons during the state of emergency. Here is a link to their report. I believe that these guidelines are fluid and could change in the next week. If you are relying on this information, check back for updates.
Seventh, the Secretary of State today claimed emergency authority, provided under state law, to license healthcare and pharmacy workers to augment that workforce in coming weeks. Here is a link to his announcement.
Eighth, as of Thursday at 4:30pm, the DMV will stop all in-person transactions. All license/registration renewals and other DMV transactions must take place by phone, the mail, or on the DMV website.
Ninth, Here is a link today's executive summary report from the State Emergency Operations Center. It's good summary reading for everything that is going on across state government.
Finally, we need to be aware of community members who may be getting support through AA meetings. They may be skipping those meetings because of COVID-19. While some of our local meetings may be accommodating social distancing in their meetings, attendance still may not be possible for some. Below, I am copying a number of online resources that may be helpful/appropriate for folks who can't get to a meeting in person.
Have a good evening,
ONLINE RECOVERY RESOURCES/MEETINGS:
Offering online recovery support groups which will be available four times daily at 9AM, 12PM, 3PM, and 9PM EST.
Offers a variety of online meetings and various other outside resources
Offers online meetings with specialized topics with a variety of meeting formats (i.e. chat, text, e-mail, etc.)
Offers a variety of online communications, including chat rooms, message boards, etc. They also offer online media and online meetings with specific meeting topics (i.e. cocaine anonymous)
Offers online meetings with specialized topics. They have multiple modalities, including 12 step, non-12 step, over all wellness, and overall mental health.
Provides online meetings using Zoom. They already have a set schedule for all 7 days of the week with various speakers already scheduled.
Offers a recovery chat rooms using text chat. They also provide other recovery resources such as testimonies, readings, etc.
Offers daily online meetings with 24/7 text chat with other members. They also offer a variety of extra resources, such as meditation for NA, relapse prevention, and other recovery-oriented resources.
Specifically a narcotics anonymous forum and recovery community that uses text chat, Skype, and phone calls
Offers online meetings and an online community with message boards and a chat room
Offers a variety of meetings based on an already set schedule using text chat
Offers online support with open forums where women can share and seek support 24/7 plus text messaging support schedules 2 times a day. They also offer phone support.