February 4, 2004 – News at a glance

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Interview: Dean’s chances in the primaries ahead
Howard Dean is promising to stay in the race for the White House, even without a victory on Tuesday night. Seven states held primaries and caucuses, but the former Vermont governor spent the day campaigning in Washington state, which holds its caucuses on Saturday. Mitch Wertlieb talks with UVM political science professor Anthony Gierzynski about Howard Dean’s strategy and his chances as he sticks it out in the race. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Four-year term for governor
The lead sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to lengthen the governor’s term in office from two to four years says he believes a majority of Vermonters support his plan. (VPR)

Utility rate reduction
The state’s largest electric utility wants regulators to change a recent ruling that said customers may deserve a rate decrease. Central Vermont Public Service Corporation says the Public Service Board should approve a rate freeze instead of a rate reduction. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Democrats alternative tax cuts
Democratic leaders at the Statehouse say it’s likely that they’ll propose an alternative to Governor Jim Douglas’s tax cut plan. One possibility under review would reduce the state sales tax from 6 to 5 percent. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Methadone bill approved
The Vermont Senate has given its unanimous approval to legislation that supporters hope will expand methadone services throughout the state. (VPR)

Jeffords staff affected by ricin scare
About a dozen people who work for Vermont Senator James Jeffords were decontaminated after the poison ricin was found near their Washington offices. (VPR)

Hospital ends year with a loss
Fletcher Allen Health Care ended its fiscal year in September with a $5.6 million loss. (AP)

Permit reform
Governor Jim Douglas met with lawmakers on Tuesday to try to pressure them into writing a regulatory permit reform plan to his liking. There were signs that progress had been made toward finding a compromise on an issue that has divided Democrats and Republicans for more than a year. (AP)

Physician-assisted suicide
As lawmakers hear testimony on the issue of physician assisted suicide today, opponents want the governor to know how they feel. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington and the Vermont Right to Life Committee plan to present the governor with a petition containing eight-thousand signatures of Vermonters who are opposed to physician assisted suicide. (AP)

GMO regulations
Several business executives have asked state lawmakers to control genetically engineered food products and to give the public information about when the organisms are used. The members of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility would like the state to require that genetically engineered seeds be labeled or even that a moratorium be imposed on the use of such seeds. (AP)

Ricin disrupts office
Vermont’s two U.S. senators are trying to go about their business even though their main offices remain closed following Monday’s ricin attack. About a dozen employees of Senator James Jeffords were among those decontaminated following the discovery of the poison. (AP)

Lead fishing sinkers
Lawmakers will continue to take testimony today on a proposal to ban lead fishing sinkers. Studies have shown that lead sinkers that come loose from fishing lines may contribute to the poisoning of loons and other birds. (AP)

Iowa court reviews civil union divorce
The Iowa Supreme Court has agreed to review a divorce case involving a two women who obtained a civil union in Vermont. Iowa Congressman Steve King, six state lawmakers and the Church of Christ of Le Mars want to block the divorce, saying Iowa law does not recognize a marriage between two women. (AP)

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