January 20, 2005 – News at a glance

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Governor’s budget address outlines changes to Medicaid
Governor Jim Douglas has proposed a major reform of the state’s Medicaid program as part of his budget initiative for next year. Douglas says the changes are necessary because the state can’t sustain current spending levels for the program. (VPR)

Concerns about proposed Medicaid changes
Low-income people and health care providers are worried about Governor Jim Douglas’ proposal to overhaul Medicaid. Those on fixed incomes say they can’t afford to pay the higher premiums the governor has proposed. And hospitals and doctors are concerned that they’d be paid less if the reforms were enacted. (VPR)

Vermont Army Guard deploys 330 to Middle East
Wednesday’s sendoff of Vermont Army National Guard troops was the last scheduled deployment, for now. After training in Mississippi, this group will probably be sent to Iraq to provide security. Friends and family came to Essex Junction to hear speeches from the governor and other officials, and to say their goodbyes. (VPR)

Boston terrorist threat
The Vermont Department of Public Safety is continuing to assess a terrorist threat reported by officials in Boston. Federal law enforcement officials say they received a tip about an unspecified threat against Boston, and released photographs of the two men and two women they were seeking. Authorities say none of the names had been on previous watch lists of terror suspects. Vermont officials say the Homeland Security unit will gather as much information about the threat as possible. (AP)

Douglas attends inauguration
Republican Governor Jim Douglas plans to be in Washington on Thursday when President Bush is sworn in for a second term. At least six prominent Vermont Republicans will be heading to the inaugural events. (AP)

Vermont Yankee inspection
A spokesman for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant says he’s confident that a recent federal inspection at the plant will satisfy the state Public Service Board. The board last March conditioned its approval for a 20-percent power boost on engineering approval. (AP)

Vermont Yankee evacuation plan
An anti-nuclear group is urging Governor Jim Douglas not to sign off on an evacuation plan for the communities surrounding the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Nuclear-Free Vermont wants to dissuade Douglas from sending a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency describing the plan. (AP)

VELCO project
A spokesman for the Vermont Electric Power Company is questioning whether it’s wise for Vermont lawmakers to urge the Public Service Board to reject a major new power line planned for northwestern Vermont. Some lawmakers want the board to reject the proposal. (AP)

Insurance for experimental health treatments
A bill guaranteeing insurance coverage to cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials is up for action in the Vermont House on Friday. The measure was first passed in 2001. It does not force insurers to pay for the experimental cancer treatments used by their customers. (AP)

ESL standardized tests
Students who don’t speak English as a first language will soon have to begin taking standardized tests to show their English is improving. Students must eventually pass a series of tests to be considered proficient. (AP)

Classmates headed to Iraq
Three classmates from the Lamoille Valley Union High school class of 1998 are headed to Iraq together. Chris Rondeau, Walter Byrne and Allen Audette will be fighting in the same tank. The Vermont National Guard soldiers were among those activated on Wednesday. (AP)

Winhall murder trial
Bruce Dodge has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of his nephew in Winhall two years ago. The jury was unable to agree on one of the elements necessary to convict Dodge of second-degree murder, as he had been charged. (AP)

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