Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WVTK Local & State News February 4, 2015

More than 7,000 Northeast dairy farmers stand to get an average of $4,000 in a proposed settlement with the cooperative Dairy Farmers of America to resolve antitrust allegations. A final court hearing was held last week in Vermont on the $50 million settlement. The 2009 class-action lawsuit charged the cooperative, its marketing arm Dairy Marketing Services and Dallas-based Dean Foods with working together to monopolize the market for raw milk in the Northeast, driving down prices paid to dairy farmers. A judge is expected to decide soon whether to approve the DFA settlement, and farmers now have until May to submit a claim.

The Public Service Department issued its first request for proposals under the new Connectivity Initiative. A press release says Internet Service Providers are invited to submit proposals to serve locations identified by the Department as needing improved access to broadband Internet service. The Department will award grants up to $964,350 to organizations willing to serve these areas. The Department says they have identified 1,700 locations eligible for support through the first round of funding. The lowest acceptable speed for funding is 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload. However, the Department is encouraging higher levels of service.

Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill that targets so-called revenge porn. Bill supporters say they have heard from victims who have had sexually explicit pictures of themselves distributed against their will on the Internet. The measure would make it a felony to share intimate photos or video if the person depicted does not grant permission. The measure also would make it illegal to edit photos falsely showing someone engaging in sexual conduct.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Vermont to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by the severe winter storm back in December. The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm