Friday, May 8, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 8, 2015

The Vermont Senate is granting preliminary approval to a wide ranging education reform bill. After several hours of debate, the Senate voted to accept the current version of the bill. It includes incentives for smaller school districts to consolidate for cost savings and to increase educational opportunities for students. The Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the bill today.

Vermont Dairy Farmers are getting paid a lot less than last year for their milk. According to the Department of Agriculture, dairy farmers around the state were paid about $23 per 100 pounds. But now, they are getting just about $16 for the same amount of milk. Ag officials say it's because milk prices are dependent on global activity and in an instant, international demand can change. There is some hopeful news on the horizon. There is usually a higher demand for dairy products like butter and cheese in the summer.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin appoints Attorney Tom Little as independent counsel to look into a campaign finance related complaint against Attorney General Bill Sorrell. The Governor's Office says Little will work with and report findings to an eight member, bipartisan group of States Attorneys that make up a Campaign Finance Review Committee. Last month, Republican party vice-chair Brady Toensing accused Sorrell of violating campaign finance laws.

A Vermont Senator accused of sexual assault and solicitation, in what prosecutors called a sex-for-rent scheme, pleaded not guilty in court today. Prosecutors are no longer charging 63-year-old Norm McAllister, a Republican State Senator for Franklin County, with human trafficking. According to the affidavit, prosecutors allege McAllister traded sex for rent. And on one occasion, when a woman couldn't afford to keep her son in a trailer owned by McAllister, he then traded sex for the payment of that rent. There are also two other alleged victims. McAllister was arrested last night. McAllister serves on the Agriculture and Institutions committees in the Senate.

The Fort Ti Ferry is reopening for the season. The Fort Ti Ferry crosses Lake Champlain seasonally between Ticonderoga and Shoreham. The ferry reopens for the summer tomorrow morning and will run daily between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.