Friday, May 2, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 2, 2014

You wouldn’t know it by the pace they’re keeping but there is a little over a week left in the current session of the state Legislature. Several measures passed yesterday with lengthy debate on what the due date should be for the governor's financing plan for single-payer health care. The date currently proposed is by January 15th following the November elections. However, Republicans want it pushed back to October, just before voters go to the polls. Either way, if the governor cannot produce a suitable plan, the current version strips single-payer implementation.

We may get a break at the pumps during the summer travel season. Gas prices usually climb during the peak summer vacation months. According to USA Today, the prices this year seem to be rising ahead of time. Gas is averaging about $3.69 a gallon. That's up from $3.53 a month ago. But wholesale prices seem to have topped out since hitting a high of $3.11 last week.

The Vermont Air National Guard released a report about how it plans to reduce the impact of the F-35s on the community and environment. A 17-page report spells out what the guard plans to do during construction on the base in anticipation of the jets' arrival. It also looks at the jets themselves. The report acknowledges the biggest issue will be the noise. To reduce the noise impact, right now the guard says the plan to is keep doing what they're doing with the current F-16's, which includes changes to how the jets takeoff and land. Since the F-35 program is so new, the report says when the jets arrive in Burlington in 2020 additional measures to lessen the noise impact will be looked into.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says Vermont is embarking on its largest paving effort in the state's history, following a tough winter. He says the state will be improving 375 miles of pavement on roadways around Vermont, thanks in part to a federal allocation following Tropical Storm Irene. Sen. Bernie Sanders included a provision in the 2012 highway bill that will bring an additional $9 million to the state.

The Vermont Senate is set to take up legislation to increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018. That's a larger increase than called for recently by the House, but takes effect more slowly. A House version of the bill calls for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by January 1st. Gov. Peter Shumlin and President Barack Obama both are supporting an increase to $10.10 by 2017. During Senate debate, some amendments are expected to be offered that could change the timeline for the increase.