Protection of Persons and Property: 3. Vermont’s Secretary of State, National Guard and Regulatory Departments

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Of all the jobs in government, The Informed Vermonter thinks the role of Secretary of State may be the best.

With a salary of $109,449.60 plus benefits, the Secretary of State basically manages a monopolistic fee machine for the State of Vermont.

If you want to start a business in Vermont, you need to register with the Secretary of State. Whether a corporation, non-profit, limited partnership or general partnership, there are registration fees, trade name and trademark fees, UCC filing fees and administrative fees.

The Secretary of State is also responsible for licensing some fifty professions: everything from acupuncturists and auctioneers to tattooists and waste system designers. This also is a fee machine.

The Secretary of State is also responsible for all of the state’s records and archives and this generates fees from anyone looking for copies of vital records or certifications.

In addition to collecting fees for the state (lots of fees), the Secretary of State is responsible for the important role of managing and administering Vermont’s elections.

Voter registration, election procedures, candidate registrations and campaign finance tracking, political action committee registrations and election results are all under the umbrella of the Secretary of State. This function alone is worth the $10 million 2016 budget.

Vermont National Guard

Vermont has both Army and Air National Guard units. Over the last ten years, 2,500 members of the Vermont National Guard have been deployed in combat missions, largely in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to US military operations, the Vermont National guard also provides important services to the citizens of Vermont in connection with natural disasters and other emergencies.

The fiscal year 2016 budget for the National Guard was $22.6 million, which was 82%, funded by the federal government.

Regulatory Departments

The Regulatory Departments of Protection to Persons and Property had total budgeted expenditures of $61.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Much of this is funded by taxes assessed on the regulated entities or products, including the gross receipts tax on utility bills, various levies imposed on financial service firms and taxes on alcoholic beverages.

There are four principal regulatory departments, all of which are reviewed below.

Agriculture, Food and Markets

Agriculture is a key industry in Vermont and core to the state’s identity.

This department is focused on food safety and consumer protection and is responsible for the inspections of meat and poultry producers, inspections of food retailers and wholesalers and accurate food labeling.

This department is also focused on the environmental impact of farming in Vermont, including water quality issues related to phosphorus fertilizers and pesticides.

It is also responsible for protecting against the spread of infectious diseases in Vermont’s agricultural industry. The department conducts serological testing of cattle, sheep, goats, swine and all other livestock and facilitates dairy product analysis on an ongoing basis.

Financial Regulation

The key concerns of this department are consumer protection and the underlying financial health of Vermont’s financial service companies. The department regulates Vermont’s banks, insurance companies, captive insurance companies and securities brokerage firms.

Public Service Department

The Public Service Department oversees and regulates electric utilities, gas utilities and telecom operators, including telephone, toll service, internet service providers and cable television. Rate cases, rate designs, service standards and service coverage are all under the purview of this department.

Liquor Control

Liquor Control is all about controlling the sale of alcoholic beverages through fully licensed retailers and wholesale distributors and preventing the sale through other channels.

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