March 7, 2003 – News at a glance

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Vermont constitution
More than 6,000 amendments have been added to the constitutions of the 50 states in the past 200 years. Vermont’s contribution to that number is a meager 53. Vermont has the shortest and least amended state constitution in the country. (VPR)

Act 250 reform
Members of the state’s environmental and business communities are expressing optimism that the Legislature will pass a meaningful Act 250 permit reform bill this year. (VPR)

Fletcher Allen trustees
A group that includes the mayor of Burlington wants to serve on the board of the state’s largest hospital. The candidates for the Fletcher Allen board of trustees say the hospital needs to be run in a more open and accountable manner. (VPR)

$6.75 minimum wage
Governor Jim Douglas says he’ll urge the Legislature to increase the state minimum wage when lawmakers return to Montpelier next week. But some business groups say they’ll actively fight the plan. (VPR)

Administration pay raises
Governor Jim Douglas is defending his decision to boost the pay of many key members of his administration. In some cases, Douglas has raised the salaries of some cabinet members 20% higher than those paid to members of the Dean administration who served in the same position. (VPR)

Leahy web site
According to the “Congress Online Project,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has one of the best web sites on Capitol Hill. (AP)

Brattleboro recount
The town of Brattleboro will hold a recount next week on two close votes during Town Meeting Day: One on the future of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and the other in a race for the Selectboard. Peter Alexander, who lost his bid for a seat on the Selectboard by 25 votes, requested the recount. (AP)

Shuttle debris search
Vermont firefighters who helped search for debris from the downed space shuttle Columbia are expected to return home today. The 10 firefighters from the Green Mountain National Forest scanned the countryside in East Texas for a little more than two weeks. (AP)

Vehicle registration online
Vermonters are now able to register their vehicles online. But the Department of Motor Vehicles says the new service doesn’t shorten lines at the DMV, because most people register by mail anyway. Last week, some consumers waited more than two hours at the DMV’s main office in Montpelier. The average wait was 66 minutes. The department says the average wait in Burlington was 40 minutes. (AP)

Milk protein imports
Senator Patrick Leahy is cosponsoring a bill that would increase tariffs on the importation of milk protein concentrates. The dairy industry says the imports are driving down milk prices. Milk protein concentrates are used in cheese, ice cream and protein bars. But they face few import restrictions into the U.S. market. (AP)

USA Patriot Act
Congressman Bernie Sanders is seeking to repeal part of the USA Patriot Act. Sanders has introduced legislation that would exempt libraries and bookstores from extra government surveillance. (AP)

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