Friday, February 7, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 7, 2014

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Health Commissioner Harry Chen have announced a $10 million federal grant to expand early intervention and treatment program for young adults at risk of alcohol and drug abuse. They announced today that the grant will fund a five-year project for screening, intervention, referral and treatment as part of regular health care practice for patients age 18 and older. Shumlin says they want to make screening for substance abuse a routine part of health care, just like screening for high blood pressure or cholesterol.

By law, Vermont requires vaccinations for all school children, but not everyone agrees with it. The Department of Health presented its annual report Thursday to the House Committee on Health Care, and the numbers revealed 63-percent of Vermont children, ages 19 to 35 months are vaccinated. That compares to the nationwide percentage which is a little better at 68-percent. This past year marked the launch of a new social media campaign called “It’s Ok to Ask” which educates parents about vaccines.

More than 200 Vermonters gathered at the Statehouse yesterday to tell two Vermont Senate committees they want food containing genetically modified products to be labeled as such. The Vermont House passed a labeling bill last year. A draft pending in the Senate contains ‘‘options’’ for how the bill would become effective in the state. One would make a labeling law effective 18 months after two other states had passed similar legislation; another would require that four other states pass a labeling law.

Three Vermont schools were nominated by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. ED) Green Ribbon Schools program. A press release says those three nominees include Camels Hump Middle School, Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU), and Lake Region Union High School. A press release says the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award honors schools and districts that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. U.S. ED will announce the 2014 honorees in April. A press release says those honorees will be invited to attend a national recognition award ceremony in Washington D.C. in June.

The Vermont Senate has passed a bill that seeks to protect Vermont's lake shorelines by placing new restrictions on clearing land adjacent to lakes and the creation of driveways and other impervious surfaces. Supporters say it will provide important protections to key wildlife habitat and to water quality. Opponents call the bill an unnecessary intrusion on private property rights.