Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 5, 2010

Texting while driving will be banned in Vermont starting this summer. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have reached a deal that not only bans texting while driving, but also give police the power to stop people for not wearing seatbelts. The bill also bans teens from using any electronic device while driving, including using a cell phone.

Bridport residents have approved the town's school budget. Residents yesterday voted 125 to 75 in favor of the $1.3 million spending plan. The revised budget is roughly $6,000 less than the budget voters defeated on Town Meeting Day.

New York lawmakers are trying to an end to cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is a type of bullying that's done through the Internet and through text messaging on cell phones. An Assembly bill would make it a felony when there is serious injury or death. New York is one of 8 states, including Vermont, that doesn't specifically outlaw cyber bullying. 2 similar bills are pending in the Vermont House.

Vermont business groups say they don't like the state's plan to cut a federal tax break for manufacturers. They say the state should piggyback onto federal tax code for the full effect of the 9 percent tax cut. House Speaker Shap Smith says the state is only asking manufacturers to give up their tax break for 2 years, until the state fills the $150 million hole in its budget.

New York Lawmakers have a tough decision ahead of them as they continue to work on next year's budget. As part of an emergency spending plan, Governor David Patterson is pushing for about 100,000 unionized state employees to take an unpaid furlough day each week. If lawmakers reject the emergency spending plan than the state government will have to shut down.

Central Vermont Public Service announced that it will purchase the Vermont Marble Power Division for $33.2 million. The announcement was made at the CVPS annual stockholders meeting yesterday. The purchase, which must still be approved by the Public Service Board, includes 800 customers of the Vermont Marble Power Division.

House lawmakers have approved a bill that will give Vermont merchants more leverage in negotiating better terms with credit card companies. If the bill becomes law, merchants would have the right to pick and choose which cards are accepted at certain locations and set a minimum transaction limit for a customer to use a credit card.

A Rutland woman has been charged with selling heroin. Rutland Police have arrested 35-year-old Holly Palmer. Palmer's arrest follows a several month long investigation into the distribution of heroin in the Rutland area. According to police, Palmer was arrested without incident and was released on a citation.

State emergency officials are planning a drill in 6 towns near the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The timing of the exercise remains secret other than it will happen by Friday. More than 100 responders, local officials and volunteers will take part. Officials will be looking to assess the readiness of emergency responders near the plant.

A preliminary report on the ski industry says visits to U.S. ski resorts rose over 4-percent last season. The National Ski Areas Association says that preliminary figures show the 2009-10 season was the second-best on record. Resorts in the northeast had an almost 3-percent decrease while visits in all other regions increased by 3 to 7-percent.