In the Media

Articles from outside news and opinion sources.

Vt. lawmakers consider decriminalizing pot

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Hoffer lines up first few audits

February 6, 2013; Nat Rudarakanchana; VTDigger

State Auditor Doug Hoffer is sharpening up his pencil to review transportation, corrections, and state cell phone contracts, he announced early Wednesday, listing details about his office’s priorities. Hoffer, a Democrat, was sworn in to his new job Jan. 10.

Several of the contracts Hoffer is targeting involve large amounts of state dollars. Hoffer said he will audit the Correct Care Solutions contract at the Corrections Department, a personal services contract under which a private firm provides health care for inmates.

The point of the performance audit is to see if there’s effective oversight of the firm’s performance; the contract is valued at $53 million over three years.

Hoffer said the previous firm which handled the contract, Prison Health Services, had problems, with an inmate dying in August 2009 after medication was withheld.

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Lawmakers to consider GMO labeling

February 6, 2013; Terri Hallenbeck; Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER— The House Agriculture Committee is considering a new bill that would require the labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

A similar bill last year emerged from the committee near the end of the session, too late and with too many concerns from legislative leaders and Gov. Peter Shumlin that it would be challenged in court.

House Agriculture Chairwoman Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, said she thinks this one has a better chance.

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Lawmakers: Don’t bet on governor’s plan to raise $17 million from ‘break open’ ticket sales

February 5, 2013; Andrew Stein; VTDigger

But the Senate Finance Committee is not sticking with the administration’s methodology, said Sen. Tim Ashe, who chairs that committee.

“The Legislature has a Joint Fiscal Office so that we get independent assessments from experts,” he said. “Our experts say (this tax will generate) $6.5 million. The administration, I think, truly believes that their proposal does raise $17 million. But our operating assumption is $6.5 million from this point forward until we’re convinced otherwise.”

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Senate committee unanimously supports patient life choices bill

February 1, 2013; Andrew Stein; VTDigger

The bill is based on a law passed in Oregon in 1998. Oregon lawmakers who visited the committee this past week convinced Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington, that the legislation is ultimately a good idea.

“The more we learned about what’s gone on in Oregon since 1998, the more I felt the law that was implemented there has worked the way it’s intended to,” he said. “There was not any sort of slippery slope … that would indicate people would fall prey to a broader proposal. That hasn’t happened in Oregon, and there’s no indication that would happen here.”

Pollina, who sits on Health and Welfare, said that very few Oregon residents have actually used the law, and he expects the same to hold true for Vermont if such legislation is enacted.

“I know this bill is an important bill that means a lot to a lot of people, but it will impact a small number of Vermonters, most of whom are already in hospice and see this as a way to alleviate a problem,” he said.

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Vermont pushed as potential video game mecca

January 31, 2013; David Taube; Times Argus

MONTPELIER — Some Champlain College gaming design and development majors say many of their gaming industry peers would like to stay in Vermont after graduation, but the industry in the state lacks the job opportunities that Montreal, Boston and New York City offer.

To change that, a group of legislators wants to find $75,000 in the budget to help grow the video game development industry in Vermont in a way that’s similar to how ski resorts are marketed and supported.

“We want to help grow and, in fact, jump-start this industry,” Sen. Anthony Pollina, a Progressive, Democrat and Working Families Party legislator from Washington County, said Wednesday at a news conference at the Statehouse.

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