January 6, 2005 – News at a glance

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Legislature opening day
Jericho Democrat Gaye Symington was unanimously elected Speaker of the House when the Vermont Legislature convened today. VPR’s Bob Kinzel examines the activities in the House on the first day of the new session. (VPR)

Health care reform tops the list for lawmakers
First on the list for the new Democratic majority is comprehensive health care reform. Burlington Democrat John Tracy will chair a special committee that plans to find ways to extend health insurance to the 63,000 Vermonters now without coverage. (VPR)

86th Field Artillery nears the end of Iraq active duty
Close to 200 members of a National Guard unit from Northern Vermont are nearing the end of their active duty tour in Iraq. One soldier in that unit who was on leave in December told VPR’s Susan Keese that the mission has taken a toll. (VPR)

Legislative freshmen
The opening day of the session holds few surprises. But that doesn’t mean it lacks excitement – especially for the newest members of the legislature. (VPR)

Governor Douglas to be sworn in today
Governor James Douglas will be sworn into office for a second term today. The Republican governor will deliver his second inaugural address to a joint session of the Legislature. (AP)

Sanders challenges the Electoral College tally
Congressman Bernie Sanders today plans to challenge the Electoral College tally that will formally re-elect President Bush. Sanders will join a congressional effort led by Michigan Congressman John Conyers seeking to reform the election process. (AP)

Vermont ranked fourth in education spending per student
A national report says Vermont ranks fourth in the nation in the amount of money it spends on education per student but found inequities in spending among school districts. The annual report by Education Week magazine found Vermont spent $9,915 per student in the 2001-2002 school year. (AP)

Committee leader predictions
With the new legislative session now underway, the biggest question is which lawmakers will be named to chair the various committees. Legislative leaders won’t be making any announcements before tomorrow, but The Associated Press has learned that the most powerful money committees in the Senate will be led by the same women who directed them last year. (AP)

Winooski redevelopment not seriously behind schedule
The massive redevelopment in Winooski is about two weeks behind schedule. But officials say there’s no need to worry. Contractors still believe the parking garage will be ready in July. (AP)

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