Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WVTK Local & State News March 12, 2013

Vermont's largest utility is laying off more than a dozen meter readers.  Green Mountain Power says the technology known as smart meters is the reason, and the layoffs have actually been planned for nearly three years.  92-percent of GMP homes now use smart meters, which means there's simply no need for as many meter readers to travel to over a quarter of a million homes each month.  The company says this ends up saving costs, which will be passed along to customers.

Lawmakers returned to Montpelier today, and it's going to be a busy week.  Most of the bills have to be voted out of committee by Friday, or else set aside for next year.  This is what's known as cross-over week, with the mid-session deadline in order for both sides to have time to review each bill.

A Vergennes man says he's not guilty of attempting to lure a minor.  Police say 21-year-old Robert Ritchie is accused of using Facebook to send inappropriate pictures to a 15-year-old boy and attempting to lure that boy into a relationship.  Prosecutors say this case shows how predators use social media the way they might have used the phone only a few years ago.  After pleading not guilty to the charges, Ritchie was released on conditions as he awaits trial.

A bus carrying the St. Michael's College men's lacrosse team has crashed in New York.  Officials with St. Mike's confirm no students were injured.  New York State Police say one person in another vehicle was killed in the crash.  Police say the accident happened just before noon on Interstate 87 southbound in Clifton Park.  The team was headed to a game in Westchester County when a car spun out on the wet road and hit the bus.  The bus landed on its side off the road.

The state of Vermont is going to use grant money to help towns buy out homes destroyed or damaged by Tropical Storm Irene that are ineligible for a federal program.  The money will come from a $21.6 million community development block grant.  It's unclear how many homes will be affected.

Brandon may be the home of new medical marijuana dispensary.  A town development review board changed the use of a building to allow for a dispensary.  The building housed a wood furniture manufacturing center until last year.  The state has approved up to four dispensaries. So far, one has been approved in Burlington and another one has been approved in Waterbury.  Communities are allowed to pass ordinances that ban dispensaries, or ban them through the town or city's zoning ordinance.

A committee of the Vermont Senate has killed legislation that would have given independent child care center operators the right to unionize.  The Senate Economic Development Committee voted 3-2 to kill the measure today after Sen. William Doyle expressed reservations about allowing only state-subsidized day care providers to vote whether to join the union.  The hotly contested child care unionization effort has been discussed by lawmakers for the past three years, and is supported by Gov. Peter Shumlin.  It would have allowed independent child care operators to unionize for the purposes of negotiating subsidies and regulations with the state.