January 28, 2005 – News at a glance

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GMO threat to organic farming
A new report says that organic farming is growing rapidly in Vermont, yet faces a threat from the increasing use of genetically modified crops. The concerns are about liability. Organic farmers could lose certification if their crops are contaminated. Or farmers could be sued for patent infringement if their own crops become pollinated by the new varieties. (VPR)

Vermont Marine killed in Iraq
A Marine from Albany, Vermont, has been killed in Iraq. Twenty-four-year-old Sergeant Jesse Strong was one of four Marines killed in the attack in Iraq’s Anbar province on Wednesday. (AP)

Future of Vermont Yankee
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant wants to store its highly radioactive spent fuel in large canisters near the Connecticut River. Yankee argues that – unless it wins legislative permission for the dry cask storage – it will shut down in 2008. In the Legislature, a tax on Yankee is being considered that would bring in money for clean energy projects. (VPR)

Politics enters debate on health care reform
The political fight for health care reform is heating up at the Statehouse. House Republicans are challenging Democratic leaders to enact a Medicaid reform bill by the end of this year’s session. The Democrats say they aren’t going to be pressured into passing a bill that doesn’t meet the needs of the state. (VPR)

Tourism in state’s economy
According to a new study, tourism in Vermont has become a billion and a half dollar industry that accounts for 10 percent of all jobs in the state. The study measured the impact of tourism on the state economy during 2003. (VPR)

VELCO ruling expected
A long awaited and much anticipated ruling is expected on Friday from the Public Service Board. The utility regulator is scheduled to release its decision on plans to upgrade the electric transmission system through northwestern Vermont. (AP)

Reiber confirmation
The Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended Paul Reiber’s confirmation as chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. The committee unanimously recommended to the full Senate that Reiber be confirmed. (AP)

Dean’s DNC bid
A top Democratic Party official has denied he has endorsed former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb for chairman of the party’s national committee, and says he is supporting former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Webb said this week he had won the support from Democratic National Committee deputy chairman Ben Johnson of Washington. Johnson says that Webb had not consulted with him before claiming the endorsement. (AP)

Dental health programs
Congressman Bernie Sanders wants to help more school children and adults get dental care. He is planning to reintroduce legislation next week that would set aside $140 million to establish community and school-based dental clinics across the country. There are several similar programs in Vermont. (AP)

School choice program
So few students are participating in school choice that the state’s education commissioner says no firm judgments can be made about what Vermonters think about the program. But Education Commissioner Richard Cate says a recent report gives a good indication of what school choice participants think. Overall, the report found the program is meeting the needs of students who wanted to switch schools. (AP)

Tire refund bill
High school students in Montpelier are pushing a bill that would require a refundable deposit on automobile tires. The students say they are discouraged by the amount of tires they have pulled from the Winooski River. (AP)

Teddy bear controversy continues
Another group is weighing in on Vermont Teddy Bear Company’s controversial “Crazy for You” bear. The Vermont Human Rights Commission has asked the company to stop manufacturing and selling the bear. (AP)

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