Friday, March 13, 2015

WVTK Local & State News March 13, 2015

A Senate panel has passed rare gun legislation on what's called "crossover"; a deadline day at the Vermont Statehouse. After three hours of discussion this morning, Senate Judiciary voted 5-0 on a bill that bans gun possession for certain violent felons in Vermont. The crime, already a felony under federal law, would be just a misdemeanor under Vermont law. It would allow local prosecutors to charge felons convicted of certain crimes who are found with a gun. The bill passed the committee just in time to have a chance to become law this year. It will go to the Senate floor next. An earlier gun proposal in the Legislature tried to expand gun background checks to private sales. That was not included in this bill.

In an effort to get health care for more Vermonters the House Health Care Committee passed a health reform bill yesterday. The bill is focused around affordability and access. It would increase Vermont Health Connect subsidies for certain customers, increase Medicaid reimbursement rates and improves access to primary care doctors. If passed, the bill will also add 2 new taxes, 0.3% payroll tax on all employers, and 2 cent per oz excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The man charged with killing toddler Dezirae Sheldon is back behind bars. Prosecutors say Dennis Duby was the only one home when his 2-year-old stepdaughter's skull was fractured back in February 2014. Duby maintains his innocence. Pending that trial, state police say Dennis Duby is under a 24-hour curfew. But in January, they were tipped off that the 32-year-old was breaking curfew. Police say Duby was wearing a GPS tracking device. Once investigators were able to get court documents, they arrested him last night.

A man accused of leading police on a 38 mile chase across Vermont this week is a suspect in the theft of an expensive guitar. Police say Thomas Popke walked out of a Burlington music store this week with a guitar valued at 56-hundred-dollars. Popke is accused of leading police on a long chase that ended when he crashed his Porsche into a police cruiser. He's being held without bail.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is calling for better federal enforcement of maple sugar labeling. Leahy says Vermont's maple producers are hurt when products misrepresent that they contain genuine maple syrup. Leahy says in some cases, products such as oatmeal do not contain any maple at all. Leahy is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to take action against companies that engage in these deceptive practices.