February 3, 2004 – News at a glance

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Online sex offender registry
The Senate Judiciary committee is expected to vote on legislation this week that will create an Internet Registry for convicted sex offenders. Governor Jim Douglas says he supports the proposal. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Right to Farm law
The Douglas Administration wants to strengthen a law that protects farmers against lawsuits brought by neighbors. At the same time, Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr says the state may need additional authority to regulate farms that cause pollution. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Dean’s union support
Presidential hopeful Howard Dean plans a meeting this week with key union leaders who are growing skeptical of his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee. What Dean has to tell them may depend on what happens in today’s seven primaries and caucuses. (AP)

State bonds
Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding plans to issue $120 million in tax-free bonds this week. About half of the total is targeted at small investors, particularly state residents. Spaulding is advising anyone interested in buying the bonds to contact their brokers. (AP)

Reaction to federal budget proposal
Vermont’s two U.S. senators are blasting President Bush’s budget proposal. They say it slices environmental, agricultural, energy and veterans programs to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. They also say that the proposed budget would cut funding for repairs to the Waterbury dam. Leahy, Jeffords and Representative Bernie Sanders called the proposed cuts irresponsible and shortsighted. (AP)

Cancer treatment center
Plans to build a regional cancer treatment center in Saint Johnsbury have the go-ahead from the state of Vermont. The North Country Oncology Center could treat its first patient in the spring of next year. (AP)

Methadone clinics
A bill that would relax the strict rules that govern methadone clinics faces its first test on Tuesday in the Senate. Methadone is a drug that blunts the craving for heroin. The Legislature approved methadone treatment in Vermont four years ago, but only Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington has agreed to sponsor a methadone clinic. (AP)

Mercury labeling law
The Vermont Senate is expected to debate a bill that would extend the state’s mercury labeling law. The proposal would ban the use of mercury in school science labs, ban the sale of some mercury-containing products like fever thermometers and update Vermont’s labeling requirements. (AP)

Lead fishing sinkers
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban lead fishing sinkers in an effort to make Vermont waterways safer for loons and other wildlife. The House Fish and Wildlife Committee today will begin three days testimony on the measure. (AP)

Burlington smoking ban
The Burlington City Council has agreed on a proposal to ban smoking in city bars and cabarets. The City Council heard arguments from the public Monday night in a standing room only hearing in the City Hall auditorium. Council members say they voted for the ban to protect the health of bar workers who are put at risk by second-hand smoke. (AP)

Bennington forest harvest
The town of Bennington is looking at ways to harvest and sell more logs from its properties to bring in some extra money. Bennington owns about 800 acres of forest land. The select board voted in January to hire a consultant to come up with a plan for harvesting the six wood lots on that 800 acres. (AP)

Drug indictment
A 50-year-old woman and her teenage son from Maryland have been indicted on federal drug charges in Vermont. Phyllis Callahan and her sons, 19-year-old Robert and 16-year-old Jeffrey, already face state charges. The three were arrested in August. (AP)

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