April 20, 2004 – News at a glance

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Interview: Gender wage gap
When a group of businesswomen called The Ladies of Vermont meet with Governor Jim Douglas today, they will be dressed in red – the color signifying the deficit in pay between men and women who perform the same job. The meeting is part of the “Equal Pay Day Proclamation.” Mitch Wertlieb talks with Laurie Beth Putnam, vice president of the Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women. (VPR)

GMO to become law
Governor Jim Douglas says he’ll sign a bill into law that requires the labeling of genetically modified seeds in Vermont. The legislation marks the first time that any state in the country has taken this action. (VPR)

Substance abuse conference
Advocates say the past two years have brought increased recognition of a serious substance abuse problem in Vermont. They say what’s needed now are the resources to deal with the problem. Providers and policymakers met on Monday in a first-ever town meeting to discuss ways to improve the system. (VPR)

Multi-state prescription drug pool
Another state has joined the multi-state drug purchasing pool that Vermont belongs to. Hawaii has joined Michigan, New Hampshire, Alaska, Nevada and Vermont in the effort to negotiate discounts from pharmaceutical manufacturers. (AP)

Winooski redevelopment
A Winooski concert hall is getting ready to close. Higher Ground will host its last show this Sunday before the club and a neighboring shopping complex are razed to make way for a $200 million redevelopment project. (AP)

Orange school district
School support staff in the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union have settled a contract after 18 months of negotiations. (AP)

Mental health billing fraud
Three Vermont senators are asking Attorney General William Sorrell to investigate the firms that provide mental health services to inmates at the state’s prisons. The request comes shortly after the release of a report that showed billing errors were committed by two companies. (AP)

Farm bill public forums
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr will be traveling the state this week to collect farmers’ opinions about the farm bill pending in the Legislature. Kerr met yesterday with farmers in Bridport and Sheldon. On Tuesday he’ll be in Irasburg and on Wednesday in Randolph. (AP)

Health care legislation
Vermont lawmakers will be dealing with health care issues this week at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Governor Jim Douglas has proposed tax credits for small businesses that don’t currently provide their employees health insurance. (AP)

Burlington offshoring
The Burlington City Council has voted to study a resolution prohibiting city contracts with contractors that send jobs outside the United States. Mayor Peter Clavelle had sought approval of the outsourcing resolution. (AP)

Smoking in restaurants
Williston’s 99 Restaurant will become non-smoking next month in anticipation of a town-wide smoking ban. Williston is one of three Chittenden County communities considering a ban in restaurants and bars. Town officials say the issue will likely be taken up next year. (AP)

Hiking trails closed for mud season
The Green Mountain Club is urging hikers to stay off Vermont trails until the land has a chance to dry. The club says wet conditions from snow melt and rain make hiking trails susceptible to erosion damage that can be made much worse by foot traffic. (AP)

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