February 10, 2005 – News at a glance

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Senate supports minimum wage increase
The Vermont Senate has given preliminary approval to legislation that will automatically increase the state minimum wage based on the consumer price index. The vote on the plan was 19 to 4, and Governor Jim Douglas says he’ll support the bill. (VPR)

Farmers speak in favor of GE seed law
A group of farmers came to the Statehouse on Wednesday to speak in favor of genetically engineered seeds. The farmers told lawmakers that the gene-altered crops save them money, and that liability legislation isn’t needed. (VPR)

Robert resigns from Fletcher Allen board
The head of the Vermont Teddy Bear company resigned from her seat on the board of directors at Fletcher Allen Health Care on Wednesday. Elisabeth Robert said that she would step down from her position on the hospital board because it would be in the organization’s best interest. (VPR)

Medicaid shortfall
Lawmakers from the House and Senate and a representative of the Douglas administration have started a series of meetings seeking to sort through the state’s funding shortfall in Medicaid. The weekly meetings are designed to keep a dialogue going among all the parties as they review proposals by the governor and others to help erase a $70 million deficit. (AP)

Same-day voter registration
Vermont’s two largest political parties are divided over allowing people to register to vote on Election Day. The Republican Party chairman says he’s concerned that allowing people to register on voting day could increase the opportunity for voter fraud. The Democratic Party executive director say Election Day registration would increase the number of people who vote. (AP)

Winter weather
A winter weather warning is in effect for Vermont throughout Thursday. Heavy snow is forecast for much of the day, with forecasters saying that portions of the state could see as much as two feet of new snow by Friday morning. (AP)

Storm delays NH Guard return
Thanks to Thursday’s storm, about 70 New Hampshire National Guard soldiers will have to wait one more day before returning home. Members of the Manchester, New Hampshire-based 197th Field Artillery Brigade returned to the United States last week and were expected back in New Hampshire Thursday evening. But that has been delayed because of the storm. (AP)

No criminal misconduct in shooting
The attorney general’s office says no criminal charges will be filed against a Springfield police officer for shooting at a vehicle last year. A grand jury has found no criminal misconduct by Officer Christopher Norton. Norton fired at a vehicle driven by Nina Keus of Grafton. Keus is facing charges including operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, reckless endangerment and driving with a suspended license. (AP)

Debt reduction fraud
A former Vermont state representative and Bennington selectman has pleaded guilty to federal felonies in connection with a debt-reduction firm he formerly ran that authorities say defrauded clients. Howard Sinnott entered his plea with another former member of the firm, 43-year-old Thomas Daly of Clifton Park, New York. Sinnott could serve more than three years in prison for defrauding the firm’s clients. Daly of Clifton Park, New York, could face two years behind bars for fraud and tax evasion. (AP)

Ginny Cochran remembered
More than 350 family members and friends gathered on Wednesday to remember ski matriarch Ginny Cochran. Cochran, whose children became world famous skiers and who herself taught thousands of Vermonters to ski died Saturday at the age of 76. (AP)

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