February 24, 2005 – News at a glance

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Renewable energy bill approved in Senate
The Senate has given its preliminary approval to legislation that will require Vermont utilities to invest more heavily in renewable energy sources in the future. The vote on the bill was 24 to 3. Backers of the plan argue it will help the state become more energy independent and will boost the state economy. Opponents say the measure will drive electrical rates higher. (VPR)

Vermont Yankee request for exemption
Lawmakers have put the owners of Vermont Yankee on notice that they’re not likely get a quick OK for storing high level nuclear waste at the plant. Yankee wants a one-word change to state law that would exempt its waste storage from legislative review. But key legislators say it won’t be that easy. (VPR)

Killington’s secession talks continue
A New Hampshire legislative committee is recommending the state talk seriously with Vermont about whether Killington should become part of New Hampshire. (AP)

Most wanted fugitive arrested
Police have captured Vermont’s most wanted fugitive. Forty-eight-year-old Edward Bessette, Jr., has been wanted on a sexual assault charge since 1988. He was arrested Friday in an emergency room in Manchester, New Hampshire. (AP)

Canns’ memorial service
A memorial service will be held on Thursday for state Senator Julius Canns. Canns died at his home in Saint Johnsbury on Sunday. He was 82. The memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. at the Union Baptist Church in St. Johnsbury. (AP)

New cabinet confirmations
A key Senate committee has recommended the confirmation of one of Governor Jim Douglas’ cabinet secretaries who swapped jobs earlier this month. The Health and Welfare Committee closely quizzed Human Services Secretary Michael Smith about the skills he has to run the agency. (AP)

Statewide smoking ban
Two House committees will hold a public hearing Thursday night on a proposal to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants 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
Members of the Legislature’s Joint Commission on Judicial Retention say they welcome fair and reasoned criticism of the Supreme Court justices and eight judges whose future on the bench is to be decided by lawmakers next month. But some committee members say they’re troubled by some of the comments they’ve received. (AP)

School budgets
Governor Jim Douglas is calling on voters to scrutinize their school budgets this year and not hesitate to defeat them if they are too pricey. With Town Meeting Day less than a week away, the governor says he is concerned with preliminary estimates showing school budgets are rising more than six percent. (AP)

Sanders on public education
Congressman Bernie Sanders says he will do everything he can to defeat President Bush’s proposed cuts to federal programs that help low income students go to college. More than 3,000 college students in Vermont are involved in the programs. Sanders is sponsoring a town meeting forum Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Montpelier on education. Sanders says the forum will examine what he calls the recent escalation of attacks on public education. (AP)

Massachusetts same-sex marriage
The top state court in Massachusetts has agreed to hear arguments form a Vermont same-sex couple and seven others not from Massachusetts on why they should be allowed to marry in the Bay state. Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation gay marriage law bars out-of-state couples from taking advantage of it. (AP)

FAHC expansion costs
The cost of Fletcher Allen Health Care’s massive expansion has gone up again. Hospital officials have asked state regulators to approve an increase of $14.2 million. Fletcher Allen officials say the increase corrects a financing error and the costs of consultants. (AP)

UVM trustee steps down
The chairman of the University of Vermont’s board of trustees is stepping down. James Pizzagalli says he believes his position on the board is proving too costly for his construction company. He says his company is missing out on university contracts because of the perceived conflict of interest with his role as a university trustee. (AP)

UVM men’s basketball
It is senior night for the University of Vermont’s men’s basketball team – a time to honor the departing seniors. And this year that includes the coach. A sold out crowd of 3,300 fans will be on hand Thursday to mark the retirement of coach Tom Brennan and five seniors. Among the five are two of the best players ever for Vermont: Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine. Thursday’s game will be broadcast on Vermont Public Television starting at 7 p.m. (AP)

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