February 23, 2005 – News at a glance

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Renewable energy bill
Governor Jim Douglas says he won’t support legislation that requires Vermont utilities to provide a certain portion of their overall energy from renewable sources by 2013. The bill caps the renewable mandate for a utility’s energy portfolio at 10 percent of its current retail sales level. (VPR)

Guard resolution on Town Meeting Day
This year at Town Meeting many Vermont towns will consider a resolution calling into question the use of National Guard troops in Iraq. The campaign’s organizers, a statewide network of antiwar groups, say 53 towns will vote on the non-binding ballot item. (VPR)

Vermont State Hospital plan draws criticism
The state employees’ union will appeal the federal government’s decision to de-certify the Vermont State Hospital. Hospital workers told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Douglas administration has moved too quickly to close the facility. (VPR)

Senate set to pass Peeping Tom bill
The Vermont Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to outlaw officially the behavior of a Peeping Tom. The legislation makes it illegal for a person to view or photograph another individual who is partially clothed or naked in a setting where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy. (VPR)

Volz replaces Dworkin on Public Service Board
There will be a new chairman at Vermont’s Public Service Board. Governor Jim Douglas has appointed James Volz to replace Michael Dworkin in the post. (AP)

Hunting hearings continue
Northeast Kingdom hunters will have a chance on Tuesday night to speak out regarding proposed deer-hunting regulations. Under the proposal, deer hunters would be allowed to take only one buck a year. In previous seasons, hunters could take up to three bucks between the archery, rifle and muzzle loading seasons. (AP)

Coyote hunt
A group of Addison County residents is trying to stop this weekend’s coyote hunt in Whiting. The group is going to court to halt the three-day coyote tournament, called “the first annual howling’ hills coyote hunt.” (AP)

Education property taxes
Vermont’s newly reduced statewide education property taxes may not produce enough revenue to match the proposed school budgets residents are to vote on next week. Governor Jim Douglas signed a law last week that drops the statewide property tax rates for residential and commercial-vacation properties by eight cents. It looks now as though those lower rates won’t generate enough money to cover the state’s higher-than-expected obligation to schools, and that the balance will have to be covered from the education reserve fund. (AP)

Statewide smoking ban
Two House committees will hear from the public on Thursday about a proposal to ban smoking in all bars in the state. The proposal never made it out of the Legislature last year but supporters say it has better chances this year. (AP)

Judicial retention hearings
Vermont’s four Supreme Court justices up for retention got a chance to defend themselves Tuesday night. They were questioned by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Judicial Retention, the panel charged with recommending to the Legislature whether the justices should be reappointed to new six year terms. (AP)

Cabinet switch
Former Administration Secretary Mike Smith has started as secretary of the Human Services Agency while Charlie Smith assumed the top post in the Agency of Administration. Governor Douglas announced the appointments ten days ago. (AP)

Housing shortage
A new report says the housing shortage is driving up home prices faster than incomes are rising. The Housing Council and the Vermont Housing Awareness Campaign say the report points to the need for more affordable housing. (AP)

More Guard members return to U.S.
A small group of Vermont National Guard truck drivers are back in this country after serving a year in Iraq. The seven truck drivers arrived in Fort Dix, New Jersey, on Monday. Guard officials expect them to return to Vermont this week, possibly on Friday. (AP)

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