Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 12, 2014

Vermonters are another step closer to having paid sick leave provided by their employers. The bill requiring companies to pay workers one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked passed in committee yesterday by a vote of six to one. The bill calls for seasonal workers not being able to use paid sick leave during their first season of employment, and businesses with four or few workers would be exempt. It’s expected next to be taken up by the House Appropriations committee.

Middlebury College was ranked 14th among small colleges by the Peace Corps in its 2014 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country, with 12 undergraduate alumni currently volunteering worldwide. The school last ranked as a Peace Corps’ Top College in 2010. Since the first days of the Peace Corps, 481 Middlebury alumni from have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers. Middlebury was one of two Vermont schools ranked as a Peace Corps’ 2014 Top College, with the University of Vermont claiming the national No. 5 spot among medium schools.

An official at Vermont’s largest health care provider says the state’s new health insurance system is working surprisingly well. Shannon Lonergan, the director of registration at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care, says she and others expected more glitches as patients started using insurance provided through Vermont Health Connect. Meanwhile, Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson says the website still can’t process online payments, but about 25,000 Vermonters have signed up for coverage.

Stephen Perkins of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Vermont will be ‘‘leading the pack’’ with the state’s planned goals to limit non-wastewater runoff into Lake Champlain. Vermont Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears outlined proposed plans Wednesday at a hearing at the Statehouse. Mears says the state will enhance water quality rules for agriculture, require additional storm water treatment for developed areas and improve rules for managing rivers and floodplains, among other commitments. He says specific costs for state government have not been determined yet. Perkins says the EPA expects finalized commitments by the end of March and a letter of commitment from Gov. Peter Shumlin by the end of April.