Friday, February 22, 2013

WVTK Local & State News February 22, 2013

The Vermont House has approved a statewide school property tax increase.  If the Senate also approves it, the statewide school property tax will go up 5 cents to 94 cents, per $100 of value for primary residents.  As for commercial and vacation property those rates will climb 6 cents to $1.44.  This comes after lawmakers rejected a previous proposal to scrap Vermont's current school funding system and replacing it with another amendment. 

Rutland Regional Medical Center will host Green Mountain Power’s third Rutland solar farm. The solar center will be built on Rutland Regional property surrounding two stormwater retention ponds just south of Allen Street, adjacent to the hospital’s walking path.  GMP, which will own and maintain the solar center, will put it out to bid this month. Under a 25-year lease agreement with Rutland Regional, GMP will credit the hospital for 10 percent of the project’s output. The remaining energy will go onto the local electric grid and will be consumed by local GMP customers.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is pushing to save nearly $160 billion and strengthen Medicare.  According to a press release, Welch outlined his Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act to seniors at Bennington Project Independence.  Taxpayers fund more than three-quarters of the Medicare Part D drug benefit plan, which serves 28 million seniors.  During the debate over health care reform in 2010, Welch successfully included a provision identical to the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act in the House version of health care reform.  However, the provision was not included in the final law.

Consumers who purchased 3 or 5 gallon Poland Spring bottles since November 1, 2012 are urged to check for potentially contaminated bottles.  According to a press release, clean water is odorless and should not have any chemical smell.  The bottles may have become contaminated after Super Storm Sandy struck the eastern seaboard when residents in N.Y., N.J., and Conn. used some of the empty water bottles to transport gasoline.  The press release says that in the past 3 months, bottled water companies have detected and stopped the reuse of any bottles found to contain gasoline residue or fumes.

Experts need your help as they look for ways to reduce flooding on Lake Champlain and the Canadian river that drains into it.  To prevent a repeat of the Spring 2011 flooding that caused millions of dollars in damages, the International Join Commission recommended a 5 year study.  The study will cost up to $14 million to evaluate flood history.  The organization represents Vermont, New York and Quebec and is asking for the public's help brainstorming possible solutions.

A new poll out reveals overwhelming support for controls on guns and ammunition.  Over 600 Vermonters were asked by the Castleton Polling Institute if they agree with requiring strict reporting for mental health professionals to the national instant background system.  The survey showed 82-percent of gun-owners and 88-percent of non-gun owners favored the bill.  It also found 55-percent of gun owners favor a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazine, compared with 77-percent of non gun owners also favoring the ban.