January 21, 2005 – News at a glance

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Leaders differ on new taxes to solve Medicaid deficit
With Vermont facing a multi-million dollar deficit in its Medicaid program, some advocates want the Legislature to consider new taxes to fill the budget gap. But “tax” is not a popular word in the Statehouse these days. Governor Jim Douglas says taxes are not an option. And the Senate Democratic leader is also leery of the idea. (VPR)

Medicaid problem tied to overall health care reform
According to House Speaker Gaye Symington, it’s a mistake to try to solve the state’s Medicaid problems without addressing the larger issue of health care reform at the same time. (VPR)

Statewide education property tax reduction
The House has given its preliminary approval to legislation that lowers the statewide property tax for education by eight cents. The Douglas administration is considering a plan to lower the rate even further when the bill is considered by the Senate. (VPR)

House resolution on Roe v. Wade
In the first roll call vote of the new Legislative session, the Vermont House has signaled its strong opposition to a parental notification policy on abortion. (VPR)

Unemployment rate rises slightly
Vermont’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.4 percent in December, up from 3.1 percent a month earlier. (AP)

Hearings on hydro-dam sale
The Public Service Board will allow the town of Rockingham and its two Canadian partners to participate in hearings on the pending sale of the Connecticut and Deerfield River hydroelectric dam network. Lawyers say they asked for the special status because of potential legal mix-ups in the sale. (AP)

Rutland railyard
The fate of the Rutland railyard will be decided by voters in Rutland Town and Rutland City on Town Meeting Day. The $100 million plan would move the railyard to a 77-acre plot shared by the city and town. (AP)

Prescription drug re-importation
A former Canadian legislator is urging the Vermont Legislature to go slow in its push to join with four other states that want to import drugs from Canada. Chris Ward says Health Canada has been warning Canadians for years about the dangers of drugs bought by mail. (AP)

Dean rallies against Bush’s inauguration
Former Governor Howard Dean addressed about 250 supporters last night at a Burlington event that his political organization billed an “Un-auguration” to counter the inauguration of President George Bush. Dean is a candidate to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (AP)

Vermonters protest inauguration
Vermonters were among the protesters at the President Bush’s second inauguration on Thursday. More than 100 activists traveled to Washington to voice their opinions against the war in Iraq and for economic justice. (AP)

Transportation budget cuts
The state Agency of Transportation is considering eliminating 40 jobs to save money for bridge maintenance and road paving. The cuts would save about $2.5 million. (AP)

Voyeurism bill
A Senate committee will hear testimony on Friday on a bill that would criminalize Peeping Tom behavior. The bill would also make it illegal to photograph a person naked or partially clothed without permission in a place where the person should expect privacy. (AP)

NH considers coyote hunting
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission is going to hold a public hearing on whether to have a night coyote hunting season during the summer. It’s the latest chapter in northern New England’s continuing struggle with coyotes, which some fault for thinning deer populations. (AP)

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