March 24, 2004 – News at a glance

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Clarendon still seeking cause of cancer cluster
It’s been one year since a group of Clarendon citizens organized to investigate abnormally high rates of leukemia in their community. There are still many more questions than answers about the causes of the disease. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Medical marijuana unlikely to pass House committee
It appears that legislation allowing Vermonters to use marijuana for medicinal purposes faces a very tough future in the House Health and Welfare Committee. (VPR)

Welch asks for study of outsourced government jobs
Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch is calling on the Douglas administration to conduct a thorough study of how many state government services are outsourced to foreign countries. An investigation by the Bennington Banner revealed that some social welfare information services are sub-contracted to a firm in India. (VPR)

Legislature takes up capital construction bill
An early spring ritual is underway in the Statehouse: the legislative dance has begun over the annual capital construction bill. The legislation sets spending priorities for government building projects. But it also becomes the vehicle for lawmakers to set policy and to pursue pet projects. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Highlights of the 2004 Capital Bill
The annual capital construction bill is under consideration at the Statehouse. The bill would allocate $40 million to construction projects, some of which are listed here. (VPR)

House passes state budget
The Vermont House gave its final approval to a $952 million state budget on Tuesday. (AP)

Laid off Ethan Allen workers receive federal support
Former workers of the Ethan Allen furniture plant in Beecher Falls are getting some help from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Labor has approved a Trade Adjustment Assistance petition that will give the 26 workers extended unemployment payments and job training. (AP)

I-89 repairs not budgeted
Northbound travelers on Interstate 89 may have to wait another year before an infamous stretch or road between Montpelier and Waterbury is repaved. That’s according to Governor Jim Douglas’ current budget proposal. But some lawmakers are questioning the decision to repave only the southbound side of the rutted and potholed stretch between Exit 8 and Exit 10. (AP)

Mercury emissions
Senators from Vermont and Maine are spearheading a drive to get the Bush administration to scrap draft rules on mercury emissions from power plants. Senators Patrick Leahy and Olympia Snowe have authored a letter saying the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be more aggressive in reducing mercury emissions. It has about three-dozen co-signers. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont also has been highly critical of the rules, saying industry had undue influence in drafting them.

Workers’ compensation insurance
The cost of workers’ compensation insurance is going up for the third time in four years. State insurance regulators have approved a premium increase of 10.3 percent for most employers and 14.2 percent for employers with a history of work-related injuries. (AP)

Principal of the year
The head of the West Rutland School has been named Vermont Principal of the Year for an unprecedented second time. Joseph Bowen won a similar award as principal of the middle school in Colchester in 1997. The 56-year-old Bowen credits what he says is a terrific staff of teachers and a close-knit school community for his success. (AP)

Coppenrath named All-American
University of Vermont men’s basketball star Taylor Coppenrath has been named to the Associated Press men’s college basketball All-America team for the second season in a row. The six-foot-nine forward from West Barnet was picked as an honorable mention. (AP)

Two more charged in aiding Daley
Two more New Hampshire men have been arraigned on charges of helping a man flee police after he struck and killed a Vermont State Police trooper on Interstate 91 in June. Twenty-eight-year-old Adrian Greene of Enfield and 27-year-old Kevin O’Neill of Lebanon have pleaded innocent to assisting Eric Daley. (AP)

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