Ann Pugh

Recent Posts

Pot legalization flames out in House

MONTPELIER — Democratic leaders in the House jettisoned a bill Tuesday that would legalize marijuana in Vermont to the Human Services Committee after it became clear that they lacked the votes to pass it on the floor. The bill, H.170, was expected to finally have its day in the House after previous delays. But Democratic House leaders acknowledged late in the day that support for the measure was wavering. Instead of bringing the bill to a vote it was sent to the Human Services Committee on a voice vote where its prospects, and a timeline for consideration there, are unclear. The legislation would legalize the possession of up to 1 ounce of dry marijuana, two mature marijuana plants and four immature points. Continue Reading →

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VSEA presents security requests

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Employees Association is calling for a cap on case loads for social workers and added security measures in the wake of the slaying of a Department for Children and Families worker in August. Nancy Lynch, a legislative specialist for the VSEA, and Trissie Casanova, a social worker and chairwoman of the group’s Labor Management Committee, presented the union’s proposals to the Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee Wednesday morning. Worker safety has been a major concern for state workers following the August slaying of Lara Sobel, who was gunned down in the parking lot outside a DCF office in Barre. Casanova told the panel that VSEA wants to cap case loads for social workers at no more than 15 per worker. In addition, the union wants to limit investigations per worker to no more than 17 at a time and have one administrative assistant for every 12 social workers. Continue Reading →

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State officials address security of state workers

MONTPELIER — Threats against Department for Children and Families have spiked since the killing last month of a social worker, state officials told a legislative committee Friday, as the Agency of Human Services and DCF work to boost security measures for employees. DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz told the Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee Friday that 17 threats have been made against his staff since 48-year-old Lara Sobel was gunned down outside her office building in Barre on Aug. 7. The alleged killer, Jody Herring, 40, has also been charged with murdering three family members in the killing spree that law enforcement officials say was driven by a custody dispute Herring had with the state. Schatz said 16 of the threats since Sobel’s death have been made against family services workers while one was made to a worker in the department’s economic services division. Continue Reading →

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In 8-3 vote, House Judiciary Committee approves end-of-life bill

An end-of-life bill that had been dismantled on the Senate floor earlier this year has been pieced back together in the House, where the judiciary committee this afternoon approved legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. The Oregon-style “death with dignity” bill heads to the House floor next Tuesday, where it to have the votes needed to pass the full body. The legislation will then head back over to the Senate floor. Supporters are hoping for better luck there this time around than they had in February, when a 21-page bill was scrapped on the Senate floor in favor of a three-paragraph provision that essentially indemnifies doctors for knowingly supplying suffering patients with doses of pharmaceuticals sufficient to end their lives. Sen. Peter Galbraith, the Windham County Democrat who authored the amendment, said the language satisfied the desires of people seeking control over end-of-life decisions without creating a state-sanctioned process by which physicians can abet the hastening of death. Continue Reading →

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