Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WVTK Local & State News April 2, 2013

The Vermont Senate tomorrow is expected to take up a bill that would allow immigrant farm workers to get driver's licenses in Vermont.  The bill was approved last week by the Transportation Committee by a vote of 4-1.  Vermont dairy farms employ an estimated 1,500 Mexican farmworkers, many of whom are in this country illegally. The bill would allow them to get driver's licenses provided that they have the proper documentation and then take the tests to get a permit, and then a license.

The U.S. Senate is preparing to discuss the farm bill once again.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) says she has a plan to strengthen the state's dairy farms.  She says her plan will provide more accurate and competitive pricing for farmers.  The Farm Bill that passed the Senate last fall included many programs to help New York farmers, but that bill failed in the U.S. House of Representatives and none of the new programs became law.

The principal of Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg is the finalist in the search for a new superintendent of schools in Winooski.  Sean McMannon will meet with teachers, parents, students and the Winooski School Board on Thursday.  Another finalist was picked and scheduled to meet the school community but dropped out of the running last week.  The Winooski School Board is expected to decide on Thursday night whether to hire McMannon or to renew the search.

Vermonters looking for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act can now look at rates to make choices about the coverage they want.  Yesterday, the state posted proposed rates for the various plans offered by Blue Cross-Blue Shield and M-V-P.  Companies with fewer than 50 workers and anyone else who doesn't get health insurance through work will have to buy a policy through a marketplace called Vermont Health Connect.  Enrollment starts in October, with coverage beginning next January.

The Housing Assistance Program of Essex County announced the results of new research on the effectiveness of NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education.  The report shows that homebuyers who received such advice were one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgages compared to homebuyers who didn’t receive similar counseling and education.  Repeat homebuyers who received the services were also are about one-third less likely to fall 90 days or more behind in their mortgages.

Plans to open an opiate treatment center in Rutland are moving forward again.  Last fall, the city and state were close to a deal to open a clinic in a building at the Howe Center but the plans fell threw.  Now, it appears the plan is back on track.  Officials at Rutland Regional Medical Center say the clinic would be a partnership between the hospital and the state.  They hope to be able to open their doors to the public by October.

The Westport Health Center is slated for a major addition that will provide more exam rooms, a lab area, procedure room and other space.  Ground breaking on the new addition will take place in the next couple weeks.  Officials say there will be no disruption to patient care while the construction is taking place.