Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 16, 2014

The Vermont Health Connect website is being shut down for weeks with the hope of re-launching it in time for open enrollment starting on November 15. Governor Peter Shumlin and other top members of his administration made the announcement at Vermont Health Connect offices in Winooski this morning. While other improvements are needed to the site, officials stressed one of the main reasons for going offline was to improve security measures to keep Vermonters information safe. They say that the shutdown is not due to any previous security threat.

With dozens of college under federal investigation for sexual assault on campus, Middlebury College is changing its policy. The college is not one of the schools under investigation. But the president sent an email to the Middlebury community last week outlining a change to its Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking. The biggest change to the new policy is ended the practice of referring sexual misconduct complaints to a panel of students and faculty. Instead, a full-time, trained professional with judge these cases.

A hearing later this fall could determine the fate of Vermont's new GMO labeling law. Late last week, lawyers for the Grocery Manufacturers Association asked a federal judge to quash Vermont's new labeling law. The state Attorney General has asked for the GMA's request to be thrown out. The judge could rule on either or both requests. The hearing is expected to take place in October or November.

There's a push to bring more competition to gas prices in Vermont. Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Lt. Governor hopeful Dean Corren are working together to create more transparency in how gas is priced in and around Burlington. Sorrell says that a few distributors own a large number of fuel dealers in Northern Vermont, decreasing competition. He and Corren are throwing their support behind a bill that would require dealers to submit their prices to the AG's office.

The Vermont Department of Health urges caution when cleaning up rodent infested areas. A press release says an out-of-state resident contracted the Hantavirus while visiting Vermont, possibly being exposed to rodent dropping while cleaning up a seasonal home. The person has since recovered from the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness and chills followed by coughing and shortness of breath. The health department says approximately one-third of people who have Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome die from the disease.