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Vermont's Coalition for Universal Reform

Updated 11:50 a.m. Thursday, March 20 to include organization that is funding the effort. 

The fight for single payer health care promises to be one of the heaviest political lifts in state history. And a new group is about to put some financial weight behind the lobbying push.

The FCC defines “entry level” broadband speed as 4 megabits download, 1 megabit up. 

In Vermont, more than 20 percent of addresses with broadband access cannot connect at those speeds. There are also those who don’t have access to broadband at any speed.

An unusual trial in Haverhill, N.H is re-fueling the long-simmering controversy at Dartmouth College about whether the administration is doing enough to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campus.

The defendant, Parker Gilbert, is a former Dartmouth student who allegedly raped another student in her dorm room on campus last May. Her name is being withheld, as is customary in rape cases.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Two days into their strike, Chittenden County Transportation Authority bus drivers said Tuesday they have prepared a counter-offer for management. But CCTA General Manager Bill Watterson said the company hasn’t seen a written proposal from the drivers.

The strike started Monday and has left thousands of passengers without reliable transportation. And even the union’s supporters hope the labor action ends soon.

StockSolutions / Thinkstock

The Town of Warren is being proactive about its potholes, or at least about warding off blame for those potholes. The town has posted a pothole alert on its website that notes the weather, not the road construction, is to blame for this seasonal blight:

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Leaders in Vermont’s continuing effort to rid the state of addiction to heroin and other opiates testified before Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch in a field hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“You cannot arrest your way out of this problem,” Leahy said in his opening remarks. It was a phrase repeated often by the five witnesses, who emphasized the importance of prevention and treatment in solving Vermont’s drug problem.

Campaign finance reports submitted Monday show that Gov. Peter Shumlin is resting on a seven-figure war chest heading into the 2014 election season.

Shumlin’s largesse comes thanks to out-of-state donors, who have contributed more than $240,000 to the second-term Democrat since last July. Shumlin raised only about $80,000 from Vermonters.

Toby Talbot / AP

Town Meeting is over and many people around Vermont  have been bestowed with new job titles. But what exactly are the responsibilities of a paid town lister or a volunteer library trustee?

Employment statistics released Monday by the Vermont Department of Labor show an upswing in employment in the month of January as the state’s unemployment continued to fall.

“The January numbers start the year on a positive note,” said Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan in a statement.

Seasonally adjusted data shows that the civilian labor force increased by 350 from December to January even as the rate of unemployment fell to 4 percent.

“The number of employed increased by 1,250 and the number of unemployed decreased by 950,” the monthly jobs report said.

The Vermont Land Trust has withdrawn support from legislation it was backing that would allow conservation easements to be altered or lifted after a legal review.

The move Friday followed criticism by others in the conservation community that the bill opened the possibility that a donor’s intent to preserve a particular piece of land would not be fulfilled.

Courtesy of Woody Jackson

Public Post reports on Montpelier's pledge to become the nation's first net zero capital city; efforts to track the Rusty Blackbird in its spring migration; amphibian tunnels planned for Monkton and an Arctic Roadshow in Fairlee.

Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Brattleboro, Guildhall, Franklin, Manchester and more:

Burlington Public Schools have selected 48 teaching positions that could be cut in an effort to cut back the school system’s budget after voters turned it down on Town Meeting Day. Nine additional positions in the district's central office were also named for potential cuts.

Superintendent Jeanne Collins said the list of positions is just preliminary.

“It’s kind of like setting the stage for the discussions,” she said.

An effort to mandate paid sick days for all Vermont workers appears destined to wither on the vine this year. But at least one class of employees could soon be enjoying the new benefit.

The union that represents state workers and the Shumlin Administration have struck a tentative deal on issues surrounding the use of temporary employees. And the agreement would provide up to five days of paid sick leave per year for all temps working in state government.

Vermont Public Television will keep its federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the station's board announced today.

The board's audit committee chairman, Tom Pelletier, said in a statement that CPB had informed Vermont Public Television that its funding was safe.

Angela Evancie / VPR

You know the old saying: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, Wednesday and Thursday's weather may prove at least half of that adage true. A massive storm is hitting New England.

Track the National Weather Service radar for our region with this handy tool from WNYC.

Final Update 4:30 p.m. 3/13/14

Courtesy of Woody Jackson

For salamanders and frogs, the trip from their winter habitat in the woods to their swampy spring breeding grounds can be treacherous.

Angela Evancie / VPR

With more than 100 reported accidents in the past 24 hours, this week's storm is proving to be one of the winter's most difficult for Vermont drivers. Vermont State Police Lt. Garry Scott, head of traffic operations, has some tips for winter driving.

The union representing drivers for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority rejected an offer from CCTA management proposed last weekend.

The drivers voted against the offer Wednesday night and voted to strike. Molly Smith of WCAX reports that a strike is set to being next Monday, March 17.

Steve Zind / VPR

The Vermont Agency of Transportation says conditions are hazardous on most state roads as plow trucks try to keep up with the storm bearing down on the state.

At the VTrans garage in Randolph, there are just enough drivers to staff the trucks they have. Foreman Jerold Kinney says they’ll all be working until the storm is over.  

DuBois & King / City of Montpelier

Two development proposals are under review this week for Montpelier's planned multi-modal transit center.