Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WVTK Local & State News February 13, 2013

A new coalition has formed to oppose a new tax proposed on groceries at the Vermont State House.  A press release says Vermont residents, grocers, and beverage manufacturers launched the "Stop the Vermont Beverage Tax" earlier today.  The coalition was formed in response to a legislative proposal to place a penny-per-ounce excise tax on non-alcoholic beverages.  The bill is currently being debated in the Ways and Means committee.  A new fund would be created under the legislation called the Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative Fund where half the revenues from the tax would go.  The other half would go to the State Health Care Resources Fund.

Vermont officials are reminding anglers to remove ice shanties before the ice weakens.  Vermont State law requires ice fishing shanties to be removed before the ice becomes unsafe or loses the ability to support the shanty out of the water or before the last Sunday in March, whichever comes first.  The fine for leaving your ice fishing shanty on the ice can be up to $1,000.

Thanks to a "no" vote, the debate will continue on the physician-aided suicide bill.  The bill came to the Senate floor yesterday despite the majority of the Judiciary Committee saying they see a bill with serious flaws and that raises lots of questions.  What the Senate body had to vote on first was whether to reject it outright, and that got the "no" votes.  Then lawmakers spent hours debating the different facets of the bill. 

Senator Patrick Leahy says the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration legislation with a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.  Leahy made the comments as he opened the Senate's first hearing of the year on immigration.  This comes a day after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to renew his call for sweeping immigration legislation.  Leahy questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on efforts to secure the U.S. borders and improvements in deporting illegal aliens with criminal records.

Police are looking for a man accused of assaulting and robbing two women in the area of Ray's Seafood in Essex last night.  Authorities say around 7 o’clock, the male subject stole one of the victim's purse containing an undetermined amount of money.  The male then left in a silver truck.  The male is described as being white, 6'1", about 250 pounds with a small mustache.  Police say no weapons were displayed during the incident.

U.S. Census figures show that for the first time in almost three-quarters of a century Vermont lost population last year, a drop caused by more people leaving the state than moving in.  Even though last year's population decline was small, just under 600, it's part of a broader trend that has seen the state's population growth rate hover just above zero for several years.  The Census Bureau figures showed that Vermont and Rhode Island were the only two states in the country to lose population last year.