April 23, 2003 – News at a glance

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Health risk and insurance rates
Governor Jim Douglas says he’s looking at a plan to make some changes to Vermont’s community rating health care law. The law, which was passed by the Legislature in the 1990s, prevents health insurance companies from taking an individual’s health risk into consideration when determining policy rates. (VPR)

French TV on U.S. war opinion
French television crew visited Bennington recently as part of a five-week U.S. tour. Their assignment was to document the American response to the war in Iraq. Their findings will air next month in a half-hour-long program. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Mediator retires
Federal mediator Ira Lobel is a familiar figure in Vermont labor disputes. For 28 years, Lobel has helped employers and workers reach agreements and avert strikes. In the last several months alone, he’s helped forge new teachers’ contracts in South Burlington and Milton. Now Lobel is retiring. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Budget adjustment bill
House and Senate leaders have agreed on the details of a new budget adjustment bill. The legislation provides additional money for several state programs and it authorizes Vermont to join Powerball this summer. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Legislature’s adjournment
It’s the time of year in Montpelier when the leaders in the state capitol flex their political muscle. Adjournment is nearing and House Democrats are opposed to a Republican plan to send most lawmakers home while key committees work on bills. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: potable water
Steve Delaney talks with the director of Pure Water for the World. The Vermont organization has embarked on a program to improve water filtration in honduras. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Boston Marathon finishers
Two Vermont women are among this year’s top 50 finishers in the Boston Marathon. Amy Chekos of Burlington came in 32nd at Monday’s race, finishing in 3:02:17. Just a few minutes later, Nicole Wilkerson of Middlebury placed 44th in the race. (AP)

Minimum wage
A sharply divided House committee voted yesterday to support increasing Vermont’s minimum wage by 50 cents per hour in January. The wage is now $.25 per hour. The bill would raise it to $6.75, with annual cost-of-living adjustments after that. (AP)

Vermont Yankee evacuation zone
There’s a debate underway about disaster planning in the emergency evacuation zone around the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The Douglas administration and the state auditor both want a more than 40% spending increase for disaster planning. (AP)

Radioactive waste storage
Low-level radioactive waste from Vermont could be sent to a nuclear waste dump in west Texas under legislation endorsed by the Texas Legislature. The bill would allow for two facilities to be set up, one of which would dispose of the Vermont waste. (AP)

Coal-burning factory emissions
Vermont and six other Northeastern states urged the federal government Tuesday to toughen emission controls for older, coal-burning power plants. Attorneys General from the seven states are asking Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, not to relax pollution controls. (AP)

Lake Champlain cleanup
Governors Jim Douglas of Vermont and George Pataki of New York met Tuesday on the shores of Lake Champlain to talk about cleaning up the lake. The two governors called for more resources for cleaning up the lake. (AP)

FAHC trustees
Some Vermonters say they’re concerned about the makeup of the new board of trustees at Fletcher Allen Health Care. A retired UVM medical professor has signed a letter with six others calling for more racial and economic diversity on the Fletcher Allen Health Care board. (AP)

Sheep ownership in question
A former Vermont woman is suing to regain ownership of sheep that were taken from her home by Vermont Large Animal Rescue in December. The nonprofit rescue organization says it had received complaints about lack of shelter at the home. (AP)

Wildlife road crossings
Vermont’s Transportation Agency is teaming up with environmentalists to save more animals from becoming roadkill. The state now has an office-based “wildlife crossing team” aimed at saving species like the northern leopard frogs. (AP)

Girls’ fitness run
Tourists visiting the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier Tuesday afternoon were surprised to see Governor Jim Douglas jogging past with about 30 middle-school girls in tow. Douglas was taking part in an event organized by Run Girl Run, a statewide physical fitness program sponsored by Vermont’s Health and Education Departments. (AP)

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