Friday, June 6, 2014

WVTK Local & State News June 6, 2014

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Arizona Senator John McCain have hammered out a compromise for legislation reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure includes pieces of three VA bills, including expanding a veteran's access to health care, allowing them to see private doctors outside the VA system under certain conditions, as well as making it easier to fire VA officials. Similar legislation overwhelmingly passed in the House last month. The bill will now go to the Senate floor, possibly as soon as next week.

More than 40 people and 9 legislators gathered last night at the Isley Library to discuss Vermont’s DCF. It was one of a series of nine public meetings being held across the state to get the public’s input on child protection issues in the state. Emotions ran high as people spoke out. Some saying DCF is quick to break up families while others said DCF keeps dysfunctional families together. During the meeting, it was pointed out that substance abuse is a huge part of the problem and that DCF social workers are neither drug counselors nor mental health clinicians. Lawmakers will host their final three hearings on child protective services next Tuesday in St. Johnsbury, Montpelier and Morrisville. Committee members say they hope to present their recommendations to lawmakers by the end of the year.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a revised draft of the Adirondack Park Trail plan for the North Country National Scenic Trail. A press release says the plan recommends following approximately 81 miles of existing foot trail and constructing 38 miles of new trails within the Park. The trail will be approximately 158 total miles in length when complete, going from Forestport to Crown Point.

While there's apparently a lot of alcohol consumption in Vermont, according to a new report, it's not as much as seven other states. A new ranking by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism ranks Vermont as 8th highest in the nation for consumption. The average is about two-point-three-three gallons per person in one year, which translates to more than 25 bottles of whiskey or 320 bottles of beer annually. The number for Vermont, however, is a bit higher: two-point-nine-two. But, the number one state, New Hampshire, is almost double that amount, with the District of Columbia coming in second. Utah was at the bottom.