March 16, 2005 – News at a glance

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Doctors join hospitals in criticizing governor’s Medicaid plan
The Vermont Medical Society says the governor’s plan to cut payments to health care providers to help stabilize the state’s Medicaid program will have a devastating impact on doctors throughout the state. Instead of implementing these cuts, the doctors are urging lawmakers to support a package of tax increases to ensure a reasonable growth in the Medicaid program. (VPR)

Environmentalists warn against lawn care chemicals
A regional environmental group is taking on the nation’s largest lawn care service. The Toxics Action Center says the ChemLawn company uses a variety of potentially dangerous pesticides. But a company spokesman says all its materials are approved by federal regulators and are safe when used properly. (VPR)

Jeffords, Leahy criticize new emissions rule
Vermont’s two U.S. senators have strongly criticized a new Bush administration rule that regulates mercury emissions. The Vermont delegation says the rule will allow Midwestern coal-burning power plants to continue to pollute. (VPR)

High radiation reading taken near Vermont Yankee
State officials want Entergy Vermont Yankee to explain by April 1, why a radiation monitor near the plant showed unusually high levels. A monitor on the plant fence line indicated levels above state standards sometime during the last three months of 2004. (VPR)

Vermont Yankee uprate
A federal regulatory panel has rejected the state of Vermont’s contention that increasing the power output at Vermont Yankee might leave too little time for operators to shut down the plant in an emergency. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, which is affiliated with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, issued its ruling on Tuesday. (AP)

Security for judicial retention voting
Extra security is planned for the Statehouse on Thursday when the Legislature votes on the re-appointments of four Supreme Court justices and eight other judges. Lawmakers became more concerned this week after a man disrupted a Supreme Court hearing at the Vermont Law School. David Maunsell of Hardwick was charged with disorderly conduct. (AP)

Campaign finance law
A Vermont Senate committee is looking for ways to close loopholes in the state’s campaign finance law. And the Government Operations Committee is trying to do so in a way that preserves the state’s position on a pending federal lawsuit that they hope will have broad national implications. (AP)

National Guard deployment
Another 10 Vermont National Guard soldiers are leaving on Wednesday for training before being sent to Afghanistan. The group is an advanced party for another 30 who will leave early next month. After three months of training in Mississippi the Vermonters will head to Afghanistan. (AP)

Vermont Spelling Bee
Jacob Hubbard of Rochester has won the first Vermont Regional Spelling Bee. The 13-year-old is headed to Washington to become the first Vermonter in years to represent the state at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June. (AP)

Goat farmer arrested
A goat farmer accused of animal cruelty in Vermont and Ohio is now facing charges in West Virginia. Sixty-four-year-old Christopher Weathersbee is charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty in Jackson County. Sheriff’s officials say Weathersbee’s goats were starving and some were dead. (AP)

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