- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Legislature wrapped up this year’s session just after midnight, agreeing on bills to raise $49 million in new revenue and voting to give municipalities and regional planning commissions more say on where solar and wind-powered projects should go, as long as they’re in line with state goals.

Lawmakers also signed off on a $5.7 billion budget that includes both state and federal funds. It calls for more than $2.4 billion in state-funded spending - a 3 percent increase over the current fiscal year.

Gearing up for Saturday’s session, lawmakers earlier in the week approved updates to forestry laws, declared saliva testing for drugged driving a dead issue and decided against calling for a nonbinding referendum on legalizing marijuana.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who announced last summer he will not seek a fourth term, closed out the session and a legislative era with an upbeat speech highlighting his and the Legislature’s accomplishments over the past five sessions. He and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President John Campbell all are leaving public service or seeking other offices.

The highlights Shumlin, a Democrat, mentioned included universal pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds, expanding resources for those on “the front lines” of the opioid crisis, expanding distribution of the heroin antidote naloxone, investing in renewable energy, the creation of thousands of jobs and reducing the state’s prison population to its lowest point in more than a decade.

“We’ve done a lot and we’ve done it together, as a family,” Shumlin told lawmakers. “I am acutely aware of this tonight as myself, and many of you, are moving on from our current roles in public service.”

“Like all families, we’ve had our spats,” he said. “But we’ve always come together to do what is best for Vermont.”

Features of the budget lawmakers passed Friday include $700,000 in aid to students at the Vermont State Colleges and more money for social workers, prosecutors, public defenders, and the addition of a judge, to address a sharp increase in child protection cases.

The last vestige of hope for marijuana legalization advocates fell by the wayside Friday, when the Senate removed a provision in a crime bill that called for appointing a commission to study legalization.

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