March 11, 2004 – News at a glance

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Grange faces sharp decline in membership
Every year the Vermont Grange holds an annual legislative luncheon in Montpelier. As Grange members listen, lawmakers take to the podium to talk about the issues of the day. The luncheon is a tradition that’s gone on for years. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Bill would clarify liability for GE seeds
The Vermont Senate has taken action it hopes will protect farmers who use genetically engineered seeds and plants from lawsuits. The legislation that was approved on Wednesday insulates farmers from legal action if their crops contaminate a neighbor’s fields. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Touch-screen voting
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz wants the Legislature to ban the use of touch-screen voting machines in Vermont. Markowitz says that unless changes are made, the computers can be manipulated to report fraudulent ballot results. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Phosphorus in detergents
All dishwashing detergent sold in Vermont may have to be made without phosphorous within about four years. The state Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill on Wednesday that would ban all but trace amounts of phosphorous in dishwashing soap. (AP)

Kerry hopes to gain Dean endorsement
In a symbol of unity, Howard Dean and John Kerry joined hands and raised them high for the cameras on Wednesday. Kerry and Dean met in Washington to talk about what role the former Vermont governor might play in Kerry’s campaign. (AP)

Hall appears before Judiciary Committee
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is giving high marks to a candidate for a seat on the second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Peter Hall, Vermont’s top federal prosecutor, appeared in front of Leahy and others on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. (AP)

EPA budget
Vermont Senator James Jeffords says he’ll fight proposed cuts to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. Jeffords made the comment on Wednesday in a hearing with EPA administrator Michael Leavitt. (AP)

Child care planning
Local officials will have to consider child care in their planning of Vermont’s towns. A new law requires that towns incorporate planning for child care facilities into their long-range plans. (AP)

Racism in schools
Racial harassment continues to be a virulent problem facing Vermont school children. Participants at a forum Wednesday night in Burlington disagreed about how much progress is being made in the fight against intolerance, hatred and discrimination. (AP)

Online tax filing
More Vermonters than ever are choosing to file their taxes electronically this year. And the convenience and speed of filing via the Internet means people are getting their refunds in less than a week, in some cases three days. (AP)

Charity spelling bee
Who says spelling bees are just for kids? About 130 people of all ages gathered at Saint Michael’s college in Colchester on Wednesday for a spelling bee to benefit literacy programs in the state. The winning word was “soubresaut,” a French dance term. (AP)

UVM men’s basketball
University of Vermont basketball star Taylor Coppenrath is heading back to practice. An injured left wrist caused 22-year-old Coppenrath of West Barnet to miss the team’s last seven games. (AP)

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