January 9, 2004 – News at a glance

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Vermont Yankee hearing
A hearing officer for the Vermont Public Service Board traveled south for a public hearing in Vernon Thursday night. The topic was preliminary site work begun by Entergy/Vermont Yankee without necessary state approvals. (VPR)

State Hospital official testimony
A top official at the Vermont State Hospital says the institution is on track to be recertified within nine months. The hospital medical director told a House committee that the hospital should win back federal funding before the end of the year. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Utilities advice for cold weather
Some Vermont utilities are asking for conservation and issuing safety tips during the current cold snap. (VPR)

Douglas, Democrats on health care
Governor Jim Douglas says he’s not very enthusiastic about a Democratic proposal that would allow small businesses in the state to buy into the Vermont Health Access Plan. Douglas says he’ll unveil his own comprehensive health care proposal in several weeks. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Rutland hospitals overcrowded
Hospitals nationwide are seeing an increase in patient loads for a variety of reasons. In Vermont, there are cases of overcrowding not just in the emergency rooms, but in entire hospitals. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Clark in second place in NH
A new poll finds that Wesley Clark has moved ahead of John Kerry in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential race, with Clark now in second place and Kerry in third place. (AP)

GMO ban may be unconstitutional
Legislators are continuing their debate this session on whether to ban or regulate the use of genetically engineered seeds in Vermont. Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr told the House Agriculture Committee that he doesn’t think a ban would be constitutional. (AP)

Dean’s comments on Iowa caucuses
Long before he was running for his party’s presidential nomination, Howard Dean made some comments about Iowa’s caucuses that are raising eyebrows. Dean told a Canadian television show in 2000 that the caucuses “are dominated by the special interests, in both sides, in both parties.” (AP)

FAHC to hire 60 more nurses
Vermont’s largest hospital is seeking 60 new nurses. The move by Fletcher Allen Health Care follows years of complaints by existing nurses there about short staffing. A labor-management committee formed last summer recommended new nurse-patient ratios based on national standards. (AP)

Physician-assisted suicide
Lawmakers say they won’t take up a bill legalizing doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Heads of the Senate and House Health and Welfare Committees oppose the so-called “Death With Dignity Act.” They say the bill, modeled on an Oregon law, is too controversial. (AP)

Employment parity
Governor Jim Douglas signed an agreement with federal officials on Thursday that will promote the employment of people with disabilities. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is going to study how Vermont agencies employ and retain disabled workers. (AP)

Coventry landfill expansion
Casella Waste Systems Incorporated might buy and move the Newport State Airport to expand its landfill. Casella, which is based in Rutland, runs Vermont’s largest landfill in Coventry. The landfill now has permission to take 240,000 tons a year. Casella has applied for a permit to take nearly half a million tons of waste a year, which is nearly all the solid waste produced in Vermont. (AP)

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