Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WVTK Local & State News January 28, 2015

Governor Peter Shumlin testified before Congress earlier today. A press release says Governor Shumlin urged Congress to quickly replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund so Vermont and other states can get to work repairing crumbling infrastructure. Vermont relies on $300 million each year in funding from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which will become insolvent in May if Congress doesn't act. Governor Shumlin says projects relying on federal money would be in jeopardy if Congress fails to act.

Gun rights activists are telling state lawmakers to reject a measure that would require background checks for private gun sales. Dozens of orange clad gun rights supporters visited the Statehouse in Montpelier yesterday to take their message to lawmakers. The bill would require background checks for all private gun sales, unless it involves an immediate family member. It would also require the seller and buyer to appear before a licensed gun dealer before the sale can be completed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised the U.S. Standards for Grades of Maple Syrup. The USDA says the revision defines quality factors and establishes new color determinations for Grade A. The grade will be determined based on flavor, odor, damage, and turbidity or cloudiness. The changes were based on a petition from the maple syrup industry and public comments received through May 2014.

The White House has dropped its proposal to end the popular 529 college savings plan. The Obama Administration pitched the possibility of ending the program as part of an upcoming budget plan, but congressional Republicans and Democrats criticized the move. They say ending the plan would lead to more debt and less opportunities for students. The 529 plan allows users to save money and withdraw it tax-free, as long as the money is used to pay for college. The White House says it will now call on Congress to look at education tax relief.

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which killed all seven crew members, including New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Jan. 28, 1986. McAuliffe was a social studies teacher at Concord High School. She was picked from among 11,000 candidates to be the first teacher and private citizen in space.