GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT APPOINTS DAVID J. FOX TO FILL RUTLAND COUNTY SHERIFF VACANCY

Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott today announced the appointment of David J. Fox to become Rutland County sheriff, replacing outgoing Sheriff Stephen P. Benard.

“I want to thank Sheriff Benard for his dedicated service to the people of Rutland County and for his leadership,” said Governor Scott. “David has the experience and skillset needed to continue this good work and lead the Department forward.”

Fox has served in the Rutland County sheriff’s office since 2004, joining after he graduated from the Vermont Police Academy. He holds certificates in officer field training, as well as drug recognition and alcohol impairment detection. During his time in law enforcement, he has partnered with the Vermont Department for Children and Families, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate crimes against children, domestic violence, drug violence and fraud against the elderly.

“I’m honored Governor Scott has appointed me to serve as sheriff in Rutland County,” said Fox. “I take great pride in having the opportunity to give back to people during times they need it most. It’s a privilege to serve our community alongside the Department’s loyal and hardworking officers who are dedicated to the people of Rutland County.” 

Fox has lived in the community for nearly 50 years. As sheriff, he plans to focus the Department’s efforts to improve mental health assistance, develop cooperative regional town patrols, and to expand school resource officer programs and its highway safety enforcement team. 

Outgoing sheriff, Stephen Benard, was elected as a Republican, so keeping with tradition, the Governor received nominations from the Rutland County Republican Committee to fill the vacancy. 

Fox will be sworn in later this month. 


Warren, Merkley, Sanders, Pressley, Porter Call for Eviction Moratorium for Renters Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Evictions During COVID-19 Pandemic Would Exacerbate Public Health Emergency

Last Week, Senators Warren and Merkley Urged President Trump to Issue an Immediate, Nationwide Moratorium on All Foreclosures on and Evictions from Properties Owned or Insured by the Federal Government

United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.), today wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking for a moratorium on evicting renters during the coronavirus pandemic.

In their letter to HUD, the lawmakers requested a moratorium on evictions for individuals living in HUD-assisted rental housing, public housing, and for Housing Choice Voucher recipients, and called on HUD to provide Public Housing Authorities with directives regarding informing tenants about financial hardship exemptions.

"Individuals living in federally-assisted rental housing and public housing need the certainty that they can take care of the health of themselves and their loved ones, and follow public health directives, without fear of losing their homes," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Senators Warren, Merkley, Sanders and Representative Pressley also sent separate letters to the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) and the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), two of the largest trade associations for landlords in the country, requesting that they coordinate with their member partners to suspend evictions and offer deferred rent payment options with no late fees for tenants not able to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities," Warren, Merkley, Sanders and Pressley wrote in their letters to the NRHC and AOAA. "Even as government actors work to get the necessary resources to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, private sector partners should avoid exacerbating the problem by evicting tenants during a pandemic."

Last week, Senators Warren and Merkley wrote to President Trump urging him to issue an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on and evictions from properties owned or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service (RHS), amid growing concerns of the economic ramifications of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Housing is a basic need for families as they seek to remain safe during this public health emergency, and families already living on the margin are now facing the threat of lost jobs and pay cuts due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), putting many in danger of missing a rent payment. There is a clear, urgent public health need to stop evictions during this pandemic, because safe and stable housing gives families a place for social distancing, self-quarantine, or to take care of family members who may be sick. In addition, evictions could contribute to a strain on hospitals when medical facilities are at imminent risk of being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Senator Warren has also called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding affordable housing. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. Her ongoing efforts include urging Vice President Pence to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of COVID-19; introducing legislation that would generate an estimated $10 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts by shifting funding from President Trump's border wall; and asking the CEOs of the U.S.-based "Too Big to Fail" banks how they are preparing to mitigate the economic risks of the outbreak.

 


Warren and Markey Demand Answers from Trump Administration on Rollback of Environmental Safeguards During COVID-19 Pandemic

EPA Has Suspended Enforcement of Existing Clean Air, Clean Water, and Climate Rules and Used Outbreak as Cover to Continue Weakening Environmental Protections

"In the midst of a respiratory disease outbreak, rolling back environmental safeguards, particularly those that protect clean air and reduce lung disease and asthma, is highly dangerous and irresponsible."

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Friday regarding the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to roll back environmental safeguards during the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The senators' letter was sent after the EPA issued guidance that effectively suspends enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws during the ongoing crisis.

"It is disturbing that the administration would use this global public health crisis as cover to weaken regulations that protect our nation's air, water, lands, climate, and public health," Senators Warren and Markey wrote. "There is no justification for these actions; you should not be using the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country, as an excuse to undermine environmental regulations and impose a broad, across-the-board moratorium on environmental enforcement."

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports indicate that the EPA has implemented a broad environmental enforcement moratorium that would allow "power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution." In addition to adopting this compliance moratorium, the Trump administration has also undermined important climate change regulations, recently finalizing the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Car Rule, an action that experts have warned could further undermine public health during the crisis by contributing to more premature deaths from lung and respiratory illnesses.

In their letter, the senators criticized the Trump administration for using the COVID-19 crisis to advance its environmental deregulatory agenda, even as weakening these protections may put more communities at risk from environmental health hazards. The senators expressed particular alarm with the administration's efforts to weaken clean air standards during a major respiratory pandemic.

"In the midst of a respiratory disease outbreak, rolling back environmental safeguards, particularly those that protect clean air and reduce lung disease and asthma, is highly dangerous and irresponsible," the senators continued. "I am deeply troubled by your actions, and I urge you to take immediate steps to end the enforcement moratorium and stop your efforts to undermine environmental regulations during the COVID-19 crisis."

To address their concerns, Senators Warren and Markey asked Administrator Wheeler to explain the agency's rationale for suspending enforcement of environmental laws during a public health crisis; how the agency plans to continue to protect public health without strong enforcement; whether there was undue influence by the fossil fuel industry; and how the weakening of enforcement will affect environmental justice and other concerns. The senators requested a response to their letter by Friday, April 17, 2020.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this emergency. She recently unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide, and sounded the alarm alongside Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) over the Trump administration's failure to deliver federal support for testing and care in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, she put out a plan for getting relief directly to workers, families, and small businesses, and has fought to prioritize federal aid for keeping workers on payroll and helping hospitals, states and localities respond to the crisis -- before bailing out giant corporations.


Stay In The House!

Senator Warren Seeks Clarification on CDC's Existing Legal Authority to Cover COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

In a House hearing, CDC's director walked back agreement to use CDC's legal authority to make sure affordable testing is available to all Americans

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield requesting information on whether the agency has the legal authority to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment costs, and its plans to use those authorities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Senator Warren's letter follows last week's House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing when Director Redfield indicated under questioning that he would use this authority, only to then walk back his comments.

Congress is taking steps, to provide free COVID-19 diagnostic tests to the American public, including under- and uninsured Americans. H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, would require public and private insurers to cover COVID-19 testing, as well as the provider visits necessary to acquire the testing, with no cost sharing. But even if this bill becomes law, there would still be significant needs for CDC to help pay for the treatment and care of individuals infected by the coronavirus. "The treatment of COVID-19-infected individuals will be expensive, creating significant financial barriers for Americans seeking care. But the CDC has the authority to address this concern and ensure that all Americans can receive testing and treatment for COVID-19," Senator Warren wrote.

Under the Public Health Service Act, the CDC Director has significant authority to act to "prevent the spread of any communicable disease." In particular, the CDC Director may, at their "sole discretion," "authorize payment for the care, and treatment of individuals subject to medical examination, quarantine, (and) isolation" -- which would appear to include individuals who have or are suspected to have COVID-19. This means that the CDC could pay for all costs not covered by any form of insurance for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Americans with the virus.

Even though Director Redfield appeared last week, to agree to use that existing authority in his exchange with Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-Calif.), he later appeared to go back on the commitment in his closing statement.

"If utilized by CDC, this authority could be an invaluable tool for millions of Americans who may not be able to afford testing and treatment, and it could help prevent the spread of COVID-19," Senator Warren wrote. "It is critical that you clarify your response and your plans to use this existing CDC authority in order to ensure all Americans who have or fear that they may have COVID-19 can afford testing and treatment."

The senator has requested answers to the questions in her letter no later than March 31, 2020.

In response to the coming economic downturn due to coronavirus, Senator Warren has called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply the lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding housing.


Massachusetts Set to Receive $1.08 Billion in Medicaid Funding Under Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package

New Funding Would Help Commonwealth Address COVID-19 and Other Public Health Needs

United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), today announced that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will receive an estimated $1.08 billion in new Medicaid funding under the recently-passed federal coronavirus stimulus package, which included a 6.2% increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) for Medicaid.

"This new Medicaid funding is great news for Massachusetts and will give the Commonwealth more flexibility to address the coronavirus pandemic and other public health concerns," said Senator Warren. "I'll keep fighting to make sure our federal government supports our states and localities as they grapple with this public health emergency."

"Medicaid isn't just a line in the budget, it is a lifeline for vulnerable patients and families in Massachusetts," said Senator Markey. "As the Commonwealth and our cities and towns respond to the coronavirus crisis, this funding will provide additional resources and flexibility for our public health and health care systems. I will continue to push for all of the federal resources Massachusetts needs to respond to the coronavirus emergency."

"The additional funding for Medicaid will ensure that all those who need assistance receive it," said Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard E. Neal. "Folks that receive Medicaid funding are usually some of the most vulnerable and this action is another step in the right direction to make sure that they are cared for."

"Last week, the House took swift, bold action to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Our bill increases federal Medicaid funding and supports our state and local governments and health systems as they combat this crisis," said Congressman McGovern. "I am grateful for the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, who worked tirelessly to quickly pass this important bill - and for the work of our entire Congressional Delegation, which has been working as a team during this challenging time. We are laser-focused on ensuring that we put the needs of Massachusetts families first during this pandemic, and that is exactly what this Medicaid funding will help us do."

"I am relieved to see the Families First Coronavirus Response Act the House passed last week was passed by the Senate today," said Representative Lynch. "This funding is vital to Massachusetts residents and will help provide relief to workers and families on Medicaid, as well as provide significant funding for food services and unemployment benefits.  My sincere thanks to all the public health officials, health care workers, first responders and other essential employees that are working around the clock on the front lines of this crisis to help protect Americans who are the most vulnerable to this outbreak."

"The additional $1 billion Massachusetts will receive will provide the necessary flexibility to properly address this crisis at home, especially as the situation evolves, while also ensuring Bay Staters receive the care they need without having services cut because of Medicaid shortfalls," said Congressman Bill Keating.

"In the face of pandemic, the federal government must ensure the doctors, hospitals, and health centers on the frontlines of our response have the resources they need to keep our people safe," said Congressman Kennedy. "This stimulus package rightfully includes critical spending to strengthen Medicaid and protect the most vulnerable. Its passage will rapidly invest $1.08 billion into Massachusetts health care infrastructure, which will be life-saving in the days and weeks ahead. The Massachusetts delegation will continue fighting on all fronts to get the Commonwealth what it needs."

"Every family in Massachusetts must have access to care during this time of crisis," said Congresswoman Clark. "I'm grateful that the House acted swiftly last week to draft and pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and that the Senate has met our urgent call for action. We have more work to do to ensure that families, providers and businesses receive the support they need to stay safe and stable, but this more than $1 billion in federal health care money will go a long way toward that goal while guaranteeing free testing and helping to prevent further spread of the virus."

"So many people I know have already lost their jobs, and we're just getting started with this pandemic. We need to act decisively to protect our health and our economy, and this is a good place to start. But there's much, much more to do," Congressman Moulton said.

"Workers and families are facing historic disruption as a result of the coronavirus. The House bill passed by the Senate today provides our constituents with the health care coverage, food assistance, and financial support they need to cope with the widespread consequences of this pandemic. States like Massachusetts will also see a much-needed increase in assistance through programs like Medicaid, which will support the heroic efforts of our community hospitals, health centers and other medical facilities which serve those most in-need. This action reflects our responsibility to stand with the American people as we move through this national emergency, together," said Congresswoman Trahan.

Prior to this announcement, the Commonwealth had received a total of $12,149,309.30 in supplemental funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the pandemic.

For more information about this virus, please visit CDC's website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For the latest information on the outbreak, visit CDC's Novel Coronavirus 2019 website.

Massachusetts-specific information about the coronavirus outbreak, including symptoms, prevention, and treatment, is available here.

Senator Warren has also called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding affordable housing.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. Her ongoing efforts include urging Vice President Pence to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of COVID-19; introducing legislation that would generate an estimated $10 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts by shifting funding from President Trump's border wall; and asking the CEOs of the U.S.-based "Too Big to Fail" banks how they are preparing to mitigate the economic risks of the outbreak.






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