New laws affect opioid prescribing practices

For several years now, we’ve heard both nationally and at the state level that we are living through an unprecedented opioid epidemic. As part of the effort to combat this crisis, the federal government has taken aim at opioid prescribing practices. In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide best-practice recommendations for primary-care doctors. In Vermont, the Legislature passed legislation, signed into law in June 2016, which put in place a number of new regulations aimed at combating opioid abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 20 percent of patients visiting doctor’s offices with noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses are prescribed an opioid medication.

Heidi Clute

Surviving family business transition nightmares

There are times when imagining the worst-case scenario helps you prepare most effectively for the best case. The transition of a family or closely held business is one of those times. Harvard Business School reports at least half of all companies in the U.S. are family businesses — and just over half of all publicly listed companies in the U.S. are family owned. But the most-cited family business statistic is from John Ward’s seminal study finding only 30 percent of firms survive through the second generation; 13 percent survive the third generation and only 3 percent survive beyond that. The Family Business Institute identifies a major cause as the failure to imagine and plan for worst-case situations that could dramatically affect not only ownership succession, but management succession planning and leadership development.

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“Extreme Teams” useful but hard to implement

“Extreme Teams” 2017, by Robert Bruce Shaw, Amacom, $27.95, 247 pages
No man is an island. He (or she) can’t do everything alone. We need help sometimes; a group of support, a posse with our best interests in mind. We often need a team to get things done, and in the new book, “Extreme Teams,” by Robert Bruce Shaw, you might learn how to assemble your best. At natural food store chain Whole Foods, employees work differently.

Time for some financial spring cleaning

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning? Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:
— Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home.

Liz Gamache, director at Efficiency Vermont, at the Better Buildings by Design conference at the Sheraton in South Burlington. Courtesy photo

Conference reflects breadth of energy efficiency benefits

 
In early February, Efficiency Vermont hosted its 16th Better Buildings by Design conference. One of my favorite events of the year, Better Buildings brings together our partners from the building, design and clean energy industries. More than 1,000 attendees from across the country attended this year’s conference, which offered more than 40 workshops over the course of two days. This year I kicked off the conference with some welcoming remarks and talked about the role I see energy efficiency playing in the industry, as a unifier. It’s a common-sense solution that isn’t up for debate, because it’s hard to argue that no matter where our energy is coming from, we should try to use less of it.

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Enjoy being ‘Organized Enough’

“Organized Enough” by Amanda Sullivan, 2017, DaCapo Lifelong, $16.99, 229 pages
You know exactly where Monday’s report is. That, of course, doesn’t mean anybody else could find it. You put that report in a safe place in your office, which is organized to work for you. But is it really organized, or is it just a mess? Admit it: it’s probably the latter and nobody’s perfect, but with “Organized Enough” by Amanda Sullivan, you might find a perfect solution.

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‘Why Time Flies’ will show you a good time

“Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation” by Alan Burdick, 2017, Simon & Schuster, $28
Your last vacation was really fun. Those seven days felt like 10 minutes. And then you were back to work, where 10 minutes can seem like seven days. Why is that? How come enjoyable things whiz by fast and why do you wake up seconds before the alarm goes off?

New Vermont tax code to focus on fraud prevention

 MONTPELIER — Last week, the Vermont Department of Taxes and the IRS began accepting tax returns for the 2016 tax year. There are a few changes the department would like taxpayers to know about. The department continues to experience a rise in attempted tax refund fraud, an alarming trend that mirrors what is happening in other states and at the federal level. State revenue departments and the IRS are implementing procedures to help protect the taxpayer’s money. Vermont taxpayers will be asked to provide a Vermont driver’s license or state-issued identification card number when filing.

What’s the best way to make extra money?

 “Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com. Q: I’d love to earn some extra cash in addition to what I make at my 9-to-5 job, but I’m not sure where to start. Any ideas?

Photo courtesy of Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships

A small efficiency experiment with big results

 
At Efficiency Vermont we are always looking for new ways to help our customers save energy. Two years ago we started considering how we could work with businesses to help them save big by cutting their energy use in half. We had a lot of questions: Would businesses be interested? Would our customers be willing to rise to the challenge? Would the projects be economically viable?