January 26, 2005 – News at a glance

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Annual Farm Show
For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Vermont farm show has attracted farmers, industry people and those who simply enjoy checking out what’s new in farming. VPR’s Steve Zind visited this year’s farm show on opening day to see what’s changed and what remains the same. (VPR)

Chronic illness and health care delivery
Health commissioner Dr. Paul Jarris says it’s critical to reform how our health care system reimburses doctors and other providers for services to patients with chronic illnesses. Jarris says the current health care system isn’t designed to provide the kinds of preventative care that are needed to effectively treat chronic conditions. (VPR)

Instant runoff voting bill
Legislation has been introduced in the Vermont Senate that could have a major impact on the state’s election system. The bill implements an instant runoff voting system for all state and federal offices. (VPR)

Transportation district consolidation meets criticism
Lawmakers are questioning the Douglas administration’s plan to restructure the Agency of Transportation. The administration hopes to save $2.5 million by consolidating districts and cutting about 40 jobs. But some legislators are worried that highway maintenance may suffer if the plan goes through. (VPR)

Flory elected GOP House leader
Representative Peg Flory of Pittsford has been elected leader of the Vermont House’s Republican caucus. Flory replaces Representative Richard Hube of Londonderry, who stepped down for health reasons. (AP)

Dean’s DNC bid
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has picked up the support of several black Democratic leaders in his bid for the party chairmanship. Yvonne Atkinson Gates, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee’s black caucus, and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois are among the prominent black Democrats supporting Dean. (AP)

Judicial retention hearings
Four justices of the Vermont Supreme Court have started the process that will determine if they get to remain on the bench. Under the Vermont system, governors appoint judges; the Senate confirms them, and then every six years the Legislature, meeting in joint session, votes by secret ballot whether to keep the judges in office. The four are Chief Justice Paul Reiber and Justices John Dooley, Denise Johnson and Marilyn Skoglund. There is one vacancy on the court. (AP)

Minimum wage
Vermont’s minimum wage most likely won’t climb to $8 per hour this year, but an annual cost-of-living adjustment remains a possibility. On Tuesday, a Senate committee rejected the idea of increasing Vermont’s current $7 minimum by a dollar. (AP)

Military tax benefit
The assessor in Barre Town wants to give a property tax break to disabled veterans and the families of National Guard troops on active duty. Disabled veterans currently can have $10,000 taken off the assessed value of their home when property taxes are calculated. Assessor Joseph Levesque says he’d like to double that benefit. (AP)

Disability insurance settlement
Vermont has joined a multi-state settlement against three affiliated insurance companies in a case in which the companies were charged with improperly denying disability claims. State officials say as many as 600 Vermont policyholders could be affected. The companies involved are the Unum Life Insurance Company, the Paul Revere Life Insurance Company and the Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company. (AP)

Global warming conference
Middlebury College is hosting a three-day conference on global warming. The event brings together activists, business leaders, students and scholars who want to build a new climate movement. The conference called “What Works: New Strategies for a Melting Planet” began last night and runs through tomorrow. (AP)

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