Tuesday, April 30, 2013

WVTK Local & State News April 30, 2013

Gasoline prices will go up in Vermont starting tomorrow, thanks to a new tax signed this week by the governor.  Right now, there's a fixed state tax of 27 cents per gallon.  Under the new law that takes effect tomorrow, a 2 percent charge will be added to the total cost of the purchase. Currently, that works out to about a 6-cent increase per gallon, but that would fluctuate with the rise and fall of gas prices.  Lawmakers are making the switch because Vermonters have been using less gas, meaning less revenue collected for road and bridge repairs.  Governor Peter Shumlin has stated repeatedly that he opposes any broad-based tax increases.  But he supports the new gas tax, saying the additional transportation revenue is needed to leverage millions in federal matching funds.

Fair Haven police say a liquor store clerk was apparently helping herself to the till.  45-year-old Denise Ballard is pleading not guilty to embezzlement charges, after authorities say she stole more than 151-thousand dollars from the store.  Ballard worked at Liberty Street Discount Beverage for more than 9 years, and investigators say for an 18th month time frame she voided sales and withdrew the cash from the register.  Officers say she told them she was having financial problems and a gambling addiction.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife are advising motorists to be alert to avoid moose on the highway.  A press release says moose are more likely to be crossing roadways at this time of year, especially after dark or early in the morning.  If you see a moose ahead, slow down or stop.  Trying to speed past them "before they can move" can be a serious mistake.  Eighteen people have died in motor vehicle collisions with moose on Vermont highways since 1985.

Governor Shumlin is calling the new 31-million dollar laboratory for the Health Department and University of Vermont a jobs creator.  Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Monday in Colchester.  The new lab, which has been in the planning stages for about 10 years, will be finished in about 18 months.  It will take the place of the old building near Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

The Vermont House will be debating end-of-life choice legislation that would potentially allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it.  The measure has been the subject of two public hearings this year.  A stripped-down version of the bill already passed the Senate.  If it gains House approval, it would be up for final action tomorrow and then sent to a joint conference committee.

A case of infant salmonella in Vermont is now being investigated after the baby came in contact with baby chicks.  The state health department says the infant had the same strain of salmonella discovered in the chicks which had recently been sold at a local feed store.  Dozens of people in several other states have been infected with the same strain, according to health officials.  One suggestion now being made is to stop children younger than five from handling young poultry.