Tuesday, February 17, 2015

WVTK Local & State News February 17, 2015

Lake Champlain is completely frozen over. The National Weather Service says high resolution satellite images confirm that the lake is frozen over for the second year in a row. Temperatures have been below freezing the entire month of February in Burlington, and the wind chills of 40 below zero this past weekend likely finished the freeze over. The last time the lake completely froze for two years in a row was a decade ago.

Voters in Vergennes, Waltham, and Panton will be asked to approve a $4.7-million Vergennes Union Elementary School budget on Town Meeting Day. The proposed budget represents a 7.7-percent increase over the current spending plan. Officials say the increase is due to a number of factors including adding a math specialist and accounting for mistakes made in previous budgets at the ANwSU level. Vergennes, Waltham, and Panton voters will also be deciding on a proposed $10.47 million Vergennes Union High School budget and a related $100,000 VUHS capital improvement spending article.

A new bill seeks to partner Vermont beer makers and agriculture. The bill would create a new Vermont farm brewer's license for people who want to brew beer with at least one product grown on their land. Farm beer would have to include 20-percent local hops and 30-percent of other local ingredients, which could not be water. The Bill from Bennington Representative Bill Botzow would also create similar designations for Vermont-made cheese and wine.

A bill to legalize marijuana in Vermont was unveiled in Montpelier today. State Senator David Zuckerman has been crafting the bill. He says the bill is modeled on laws in Colorado and Washington state, with the goal of having the state regulate cultivation and distribution, and place a heavy tax on retail sales.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing free tuition at public colleges for the first two years. A press release says he is also calling for reforms in federal student loans. Sen. Sanders announced the proposals at Johnson State College today. Sen. Sanders welcomes President Obama's proposal to make community college free, but says we must go further.