December 1, 2004 – News at a glance

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Interview: World AIDS Day
The UN estimates there are 39 million adults people living with HIV and during the past year 4.9 million more people became infected with the virus. And there are still many disagreements about how to provide care for people living with the disease. Here in Vermont, the state’s largest AIDS service organization, Vermont CARES, has rejected nearly $100,000 in federal funding because the organization says new directives tied to that money would compromise the privacy of people seeking help. (VPR)

Markowitz says campaign finance loopholes should be closed
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says she’ll ask the Legislature to close some loopholes in Vermont’s campaign finance reform law. Markowitz wants to be certain that larger political organizations are required to disclose how much money they’re spending to influence elections in the state. (VPR)

Sanders warns draft may be reinstated
Congressman Bernie Sanders says he believes that it’s possible that President Bush may try to bring back a military draft in order to beef up U.S. forces in Iraq. (VPR)

Vermont State Guard expands its ranks
As Vermont’s National Guard troops continue to deploy overseas, a lesser known branch of the state’s military has been beefing up its ranks. Just over three years ago, the Vermont State Guard had 35 members. Today it has 500 volunteers. (VPR)

Legislature prepares to deal with Medicaid shortfall
A growing deficit in the state’s Medicaid program means the Legislature won’t have any new money to expand health coverage for the uninsured. That’s the warning from Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch. Welch says he wants lawmakers to focus on cutting costs in the health care system. (VPR)

Federal government recertifies Vermont State Hospital
The Vermont State Hospital has regained its federal certification and is winning back millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding. (AP)

Confidentiality questions raised by AIDS groups
The AIDS Project of Southern Vermont has taken money from the federal Centers for Disease Control. But it’s prepared to give it back if new regulations become a problem. (AP)

Bennington schools make plans to raise test scores
The middle and high schools in Bennington have been given two weeks by Vermont’s education commissioner to figure out how to raise student test scores. (AP)

Drug re-importation
The federal government wants a U.S. District Court judge to throw out Vermont’s lawsuit demanding authority to import prescription drugs from Canada. An assistant U.S. attorney says Vermont’s attempt to force a court to grant permission for drug re-importation is inappropriate. (AP)

Canadian pharmacy supplies
Some drug companies are limiting supplies to Canadian pharmacies that allow their drugs to be re-imported back into the United States. Now two of Vermont’s public pension funds have joined an effort to stop those companies from taking that action. Vermont’s teachers’ and state employees’ pension funds are joining some other states to offer shareholder resolutions on the issue. (AP)

VELCO transmission line testimony
The company proposing a major new power line for northwestern Vermont is trying to block a Public Service Board witness from testifying about electric grid reliability. Robert Blohm says in his testimony that VELCO’s Northwest Reliability Project won’t improve reliability of the electric system in northwestern Vermont and could even lessen it. (AP)

Douglas staff changes
Governor Jim Douglas has appointed Michael Bertrand of Montpelier to become his deputy legal counsel and special assistant. Bertrand will move from his current post as commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry, which is being combined with the Department of Employment and Training. (AP)

Norwich alumnus killed in Iraq
Norwich University in Northfield is mourning the death of another alumnus. Army Colonel James Moore, a 1980 Norwich grad, was among seven soldiers killed on Sunday when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Texas. Moore’s wife is a University of Vermont graduate. (AP)

Island truck traffic
The state is considering a rule change that would allow trucks up to 72 feet long to use Vermont Route 314 and U.S. Route 2 in Grand Isle County. Currently, trucks between 68 and 72 feet are allowed on a limited number of Vermont highways without a special permit. (AP)

Sex offender moves out of state
A convicted sex offender who was returned to prison twice after he was unable to find a home outside of prison is leaving Vermont. Fifty-one-year-old Douglas Bryant will have to register as a sex offender in his new state. That state was not named in court documents. (AP)

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