April 28, 2004 – News at a glance

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Communion for Catholic politicians
Recent comments by a Catholic Church leader saying priests should refuse communion to politicians who support abortion rights won’t have an impact in Vermont. The head of Vermont’s Roman Catholics says he’ll wait for U.S. bishops to resolve the issue. (VPR)

Interview: Senate Judiciary Committee
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is speaking out on some high-profile judicial matters – including an argument before the Supreme Court could force Vice President Dick Cheney to turn over documents on his energy policy meetings and a case of memos stolen last year from computers used by Democrats on the judiciary committee. Those memos were found on a Republican aide’s computer. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Senator Leahy. (VPR)

Statewide broadband service
Public Service Department Commissioner David O’Brien says it’s critical to expand new telecommunication services, like high-speed Internet and broadband capabilities, to every part of the state in the next few years. (VPR)

Vermont Yankee safety review
Federal regulators let Tuesday’s deadline pass and failed to respond to Vermont’s request for an independent assessment of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien says he’s disappointed with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. O’Brien says the federal agency runs the risk of losing public confidence in the Yankee plant. (VPR)

Medical marijuana bill
A key White House drug policy advisor urged members of the House Health and Welfare Committee to reject legislation allowing the medicinal use of marijuana. Doctor Andrea Barthwell says the proposal has no medical benefits and will encourage young people to try marijuana. (VPR)

Human Services reorganization
A proposed restructuring of Vermont’s largest agency has passed an important test. A legislative committee approved a plan today to overhaul the Agency of Human Services. (AP)

Permit reform bill
The Vermont House gave its final approval on Tuesday to a bill that reforms the environmental permitting process in the state. The vote of 114-to-24 ended a 15-month legislative battle. (AP)

State budget
The Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to the budget for the next fiscal year. Senators are expected to meet again on Wednesday to continue discussing the 2005 state budget. After the spending plan passes the Senate, it will go to House and Senate negotiators to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. (AP)

UVM Board of Trustees
Vermont Senators debated a budget on Tuesday that includes a plan to reduce the number of lawmakers on the UVM board of trustees. Nine lawmakers now serve on UVM’s board, which has 25 members in all. A proposal to cut the number of lawmakers to three was added to the budget last week. The issue has come up before. (AP)

Telecommunication system
Vermont residents aren’t showing a lot of interest in a plan to update Vermont’s telecommunications system. Governor Jim Douglas unveiled his ten-year telecommunications plan last month. State Telecommunications Planner Christopher Campbell says turnout has been low at public hearings on the plan. (AP)

Ski areas see drop in business
Business at Vermont’s ski areas picked up in the second half of the season, but the rebound wasn’t enough to make up for a slow start and a freezing January that kept skiers off the slopes. February and March saw more visits to the state’s 16 resorts than December and January, when rain and record-cold temperatures hampered business. (AP)

Dam removal in Warren
Warren residents are debating the future of a failing timber crib dam. The town has gotten an offer from the federal government to remove the dam, but some residents say the structure is an important reminder of Warren’s industrial history. (AP)

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