Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WVTK Local & State News March 11, 2015

Lawmakers in Montpelier today were once again debating the tax on sugary beverages. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee heard from experts and regular folks on both sides of the issue. The tax would essentially be a 2-cent per ounce tax levied on the seller of the item, not on the purchaser. Proponents of the measure hope that it will drive down consumption. They also hope that some of the funds raised will pay for health reform efforts. Opponents of the measure say there's no conclusive evidence that it will actually have a health effect, given sugary beverages have been dropping in consumption over recent years. They also worry that it would hurt businesses. The tax is estimated to bring in an extra $30-million to the state coffers.

The Vermont State Police announced the formation of a Major Crime Unit within the VSP Criminal Division today. The Major Crime Unit will consist of a group of experienced investigators with the primary responsibilities of investigations of homicide, officer involved shootings, missing persons where foul play is suspected, cold case homicides/missing persons and other complex criminal investigations deemed appropriate. While the concept of a Major Crime Unit is new to Vermont, it is consistent with the operations of other state police agencies and large police departments across the country. Detectives in the Major Crime Unit will receive additional specialized training directly related to the investigation of major crimes.

The Vermont House is sending a bill to the Senate that seeks to increase the use of renewable energy in the state. The measure would require utilities to get 50-percent of their power from renewable sources by 2017. It would then require that 75-percent be renewable energy by 2032. The bill was approved in the House yesterday despite opposition of some Republicans who are concerned it will cause electricity costs to rise.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with Cary Buck's AAA Accredited Pest Control company. A press release says Buck and the company will pay a $70,000 penalty and he will surrender his pesticide license. A press release says Buck used pesticides not approved for bed bug infestations. He also used approved pesticides at excessive rates. Under the settlement, Buck is not allowed to seek employment at another pesticide application company, and must legally dispose of all pesticides and equipment still in his possession.

A Hinesburg man was arraigned today on multiple charges after police say he hit a cruiser during a high-speed chase. Just before midnight, troopers say they tried to pull over Thomas Popke after he didn't pay for his gas in Vergennes. That's when they say the 36-year-old raced away in a blue Porsche. The chase topped speeds of 90 mph through a handful of towns, covering 38 miles. The chase ended in Hancock when police say Popke tried to avoid spikes they had laid out, and crashed into a cruiser. Popke was arrested after Vermont State Police surrounded his vehicle.