Thursday, January 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News January 30, 2014

Governor Peter Shumlin says he’s against new laws restricting further the use of electronics while driving.  Distracted driving is being talked about once again, with a new state survey out finding a majority of Vermont high school seniors are texting while behind the wheel.  While Shumlin signed into a bill into law last year banning the use of handheld devices while driving through work zones, he says banning phones while driving won’t fix the problem.  The says cell phones are a way of life and he’s not a big believer in passing bills to make a point, adding you can’t legislate common sense.

The president of the Vermont State Employees’ Association says a bill that requires paid sick leave for private sector workers is the right thing to do, while the head of a state retailers’ group says the bill goes too far.  The bill proposes that most employees earn paid leave hours for personal and family health needs.  Testimony today before the State Legislature’s House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs came from part-time workers, business owners, teachers and single parents.

National Grid customers in upstate New York are getting a little bit of relief.  New York's Public Service Commission gave the okay to give out $32 million dollars in credits next month.  This after higher than normal bills to start the year.  In fact, next month's National Grid bill was expected to be even higher.  With the credits, February's bill should look similar to January's, which is still pretty high.  The commission says it will review National Grid's practices to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Experts say maple producers should be ''very careful'' if they have to set maple taps in very cold weather. Tim Perkins of the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center said that besides damaging the growth layer of the tree, tapping in extreme cold can also reduce the sap yield by creating a leak. Perkins said not every producer will be out this early, but large operations with more than 10,000 taps ''need to go out'' because it is a time-consuming process.

A bill introduced in the Vermont Legislature could change motorcycle helmet laws.  What it changes is the age of the person required to wear one, with operators older than 21 allowed to go without a helmet.  The bill is now in the hands of the House Transportation Committee.