Monthly Archives: February 2010

Markowitz campaign kick-off

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The Democrats running for governor have been running for many months now, but not everyone has thrown a formal campaign kick-off event.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has just announced her event for March 9th in Burlington. There's a long list of political types on the invitation list, including former Gov. Kunin.

The event will be held at Coffee Enterprises. Looks like tickets run from $100 (a tall cup) to $1,000 (host).

- Dan Barlow

More public records going secret

Somewhat lost in the Vermont Yankee shuffle is a bill that will probably come before the house today. H331 is mostly about the way records are stored by the state and by local municipalities, but an amendment passed by the Senate Government Operations Committee would close to public view any records about donors or potential donors to Vermont's public universities. Not only that, but it closes to the public information about the donors to "institutionally related foundations."

According to the Vermont Press Association's Mike Donoghue, the House moved Tuesday to strike the amendment, but the issue is still in question – the amendment could be re-introduced when the bill hits the floor today.

The bill's page on the legislative web site is here.

Mike's email to the VPA members last night included the following:

We need every House member in the Vermont legislature contacted in the next few
hours and asked to  vote against the amendment made by the Senate to House Bill
331 ( and re-written this morning by the House Government Operations Committee.)
 

The vote on the new House amendment
is expected to come before the full house Wednesday, probably at 1
p.m.

The bill is designed to allow the University of Vermont,
the State Colleges and VSAC  to withhold the names of donors who are giving big
money with the wish their names not be made public.   This is bad public
policy.

Here is what
happened Tuesday:

We had some success today in the
House when members agreed to strike the full amendment that was rushed through
the senate.

It came after Peter Martin of WCAX-TV noted that as drafted
the bill would exclude all donor records, including those that didn’t ask for
secrecy.

(It was interesting that the Senate Government Operations
Committee, and the full senate didn’t catch that issue, but Peter picked up on
it after getting a copy of the bill yesterday.  It was also interesting to hear
Peter talk about his family being an anonymous donor in the past to UVM.  He
explained how it helps to shape public policy at times.)

Even with the
changes, there are concerns.

 The concerns hinge on secrecy. These are public institutions – their actions should be in the public eye.

-Rob Mitchell

VPB headlines

These are the Vermont Press Bureau headlines for today:

NRC confirms old Vermont Yankee leak

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed Monday that a whistleblower was correct last week when he told a member of the Vermont Legislative Oversight Panel there was an earlier radioactive leak of tritium at the Vermont Yankee plant in the same area that is the focus of the current leak.

Business groups call for delay in Vermont Yankee vote

A group of business and labor organizations from across the state called Monday for the Vermont Senate to postpone Wednesday's planned vote on whether to extend the life of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon beyond 2012.

Key senator bucks party, urges delay in Vermont Yankee vote

A powerful member of the Vermont Senate has come out against Wednesday's vote on the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, saying more time is needed to study the issue.

Governors talk health care and education

Governors in Washington for their annual winter meeting, led this year by James Douglas of Vermont, met with President Barack Obama Monday.

- Dan Barlow

Too soon?

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Yankee’s health took a turn for the worse in August of 2007 when her respiratory tower collapsed. After repeated attempts of a laparoscopic removal of her tritium infection failed, the state regulatory pathologist attributed Yankee’s death to a blind eye unable to see the handwriting on the wall combined with internal congestive investigation failures.

There is a hysterically funny fake obituary for Vermont Yankee at iBrattleboro.com. The Senate vote on the plant's continued operation is scheduled for Wednesday.

- Dan Barlow

VPB headlines

Here are your Vermont Press Bureau headlines for today:

Health care dominates NGA talks

One of the most interesting exchanges of the National Governors Association winter meeting focused on state efforts on health care issues did not involve Gov. James Douglas, the group's chairman, except that he arranged the circumstances in which it happened.

Governors call for new health care bill

A bipartisan group of governors led by James Douglas asked Congress Sunday to rework the pending federal health care bill – even at the risk it would delay the legislation.

Douglas on budgets: Tough times still ahead

The national recession may be over, but states will be dealing with budget holes, cuts and increased taxes for a long time, governors at their annual winter meeting warned here over the weekend.

All three of these stories were written by VPB Chief Louis Porter, who has been in Washington, D.C. since last Friday reporting on the National Governor's Association meeting.

- Dan Barlow

Vermont Yankee bill on-line

Want to read the bill authorizing 20 more years of Vermont Yankee?

Read away.

One thing that I didn't realize until I first saw the text: If lawmakers did let the plant continue operating beyond 2012, they would also need to approve more dry cask storage units for the nuclear waste.

- Dan Barlow

Today’s VPB headlines

Here are today's Vermont Press Bureau headlines (and apologies for missing yesterday … it was a looong day at the Statehouse).

Legislative panel sets up Vermont Yankee vote

A key legislative committee voted 7-0 Thursday afternoon to advance a bill authorizing the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant beyond 2012, leading the way for an expected vote in the Senate next week.

- Dan Barlow

VPB headlines

Here are today's headlines from the Vermont Press Bureau:

Vermont Senate to vote on Vermont Yankee next week

The Vermont Senate will vote next week on the continued operation of Vermont Yankee, setting the stage for a legislative showdown over the future of the troubled nuclear power plant.

Obama plan would boost Vermont vet care

Proposed funding increases for the Veterans Administration would significantly expand health care opportunities for some of the 60,000 veterans living in Vermont, Sen. Bernard Sanders said Tuesday.

Few senators back Vermont Yankee relicensing

An informal survey of all 30 members of the Vermont Senate Tuesday found very little support for keeping the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant operating after 2012.

- Dan Barlow

VPB headlines

Here are the Vermont Press Bureau headlines for today:

Vermont sets goal to boost number of college grads

A state panel has set an ambitious new goal of increasing to 60 percent by the year 2019 the number of Vermonters over age 25 who have completed two-year or four-year degrees.

Earhart flies again, graphically speaking

When Sarah Stewart Taylor was asked to choose a woman to profile for the latest graphic novel by Vermont's cartoon college, there was easily one name that quickly rose to the top of the list.

- Dan Barlow

Shumlin on VY’s future

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin has scheduled an afternoon press conference in the Senate chambers to discuss Vermont Yankee.

Lots of speculation on what this presser is about, but one rumor that continues to pop up is that he is announcing a vote on Vermont Yankee's continued operation before Town Meeting Day this year. Again, it's just pure speculation right now.

But that would tie in to what Shumlin told reporters last month when he announced that a tritium-filled trench was found at Vermont Yankee. Today was supposed to be the day when the Public Oversight Panel would report back to lawmakers – but that report has been delayed. Shumlin told reporters that if the tritium leak wasn't found by Feb. 16th, lawmakers would have a much different conversation about the Vernon nuclear power plant.

The press conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

-Dan Barlow

Arabian Nights

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Photo by Jen Pelletier, courtesy of the Vermont Arts Council.

Gov. James Douglas was in good humor Thursday night as two puppet camels escorted him into the House chambers at the Statehouse. Douglas was there to present the 2010 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts to Eric and Innes Bass, the founders of Putney's Sandglass Theater.

"This sets a high bar for the legislators who usually escort me into the chambers," Douglas joked.

-Dan Barlow

VPB headlines

Here are the Vermont Press Bureau headlines for the day:

Douglas: Vermont Yankee leak doesn't warrant shutdown

Vermont has no intention of trying to shut down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant while workers there are seeking the source of leaking tritium, a radioactive isotope.

Labor fight over Champlain Bridge repair

A labor agreement pending in New York would virtually exclude Vermont contractors from landing work on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in recent memory, according to a trade organization that represents more than 150 firms in the Vermont construction industry.

- Dan Barlow

VPB headlines

Vermont Press Bureau headlines today:

Worker Tax Could Close Shortfall

More than 300,000 wage-earning Vermonters could be asked to help bail out the state's unemployment trust fund.

Expert Details Leak At Vermont Yankee

The plume of tritium leaking from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is suspected of being 35 feet deep, 200 feet wide and 400 feet long, according to the Legislature's nuclear expert.

Study Finds Lingering Toxins Abound

Tests of blood, urine and hair samples from a half-dozen Vermonters revealed trace amounts of chemicals – some known health risks – in their bodies, according to a group of advocacy organizations pushing for tougher state limits on chemical usage.

Union Says State Needs Vermont Yankee Jobs

A union representing some of Vermont Yankee's workers Wednesday said 20 more years of operation would ensure the continuation of nearly 1,300 jobs.

- Dan Barlow

“I was VY”

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Origin unknown, but this image has been making the rounds over the last few days in Vermont political circles.

-Dan Barlow

Vermont Press Bureau headlines

These are the Vermont Press Bureau stories today:

The popular canteen at the Vermont State Hospital, closed two months ago as part of the state's budget cuts, may reopen this summer thanks to a strong appeal by advocates to supportive lawmakers. More here.

Proposed legislation that would stiffen criminal sanctions for the negligent or intentional killing of an unborn fetus is too divisive for consideration in the 2010 session, according to a Senate lawmaker who has decided to put aside the bill this year. More here.

- Dan Barlow