The Frequency

Voters in Ludlow are being called to the polls for a special town meeting vote Tuesday, May 7, to consider two spending items. The first question on the ballot seeks a $180,000 bond to finance the balance of a new fire truck.

ARTICLE I

Toby Talbot / AP

The Vermont Senate has passed a bill that would give driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

With a nearly unanimous voice vote, state senators gave their final approval Tuesday morning to the measure that would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards for people living illegally in Vermont.

On Tuesday, lawmakers are set to mark-up and vote on a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for weeks on a bill that would decriminalize two ounces of pot and a version of the measure is likely to pass in the afternoon.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also continue to look at its version of a decriminalization bill.

VPR's Public Post pores through municipal public documents, posted online, to bring you local news from Vermont's cities, towns, villages and gores. Here are some tweet highlights from the past week:  

State officials have learned this week how federal across-the-board spending cuts will affect Vermont.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the most tangible consequence is the federal mandate that the state reduce unemployment benefits by 10 percent for the long-term jobless.

Noonan says that cut, which goes into effect today, will be difficult for the 1,000 Vermonters who receive long-term unemployment checks.

Toby Talbot / AP

The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly advanced a bill on Friday that would give driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The bill would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards for people living in Vermont illegally. It would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue IDs that would look different from a regular state license.

We’re getting a better idea today of the effects that across-the-board federal spending cuts will have on the state.

In February, it was estimated that Vermont would lose $15 million. While that figure hasn’t changed, Vermont’s legislative Joint Fiscal Office now estimates that the state is poised to lose $9.3 million over the next two fiscal years, most of which will be felt in 2014.

The House has unanimously approved a two-year capital construction bill that solidifies a commitment to rebuild the Waterbury state office complex devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

The bill includes $173 million in spending, with close to $70 million set aside for Irene-related projects.

This is the second legislative session that lawmakers have crafted a two-year spending cycle for state construction projects. And a top priority remains repairing or replacing buildings damaged by the floodwaters of Irene.

Vermont’s attorney general wants a marijuana decriminalization bill moving though the House to allow people to grow one or two plants.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell says if the state doesn’t allow Vermonters to grow their own pot it will force them to buy marijuana illegally.

The Black River Academy Museum in Ludlow, has something of a mystery on its hands. When the museum opens for the summer on June 6, it will be exhibiting a new display of World War I artifacts, donated by several area residents. Among the items to be displayed is the liquid storage container pictured above. But neither the donors nor museum personnel know how to classify the container. An article in the Mt. Holly Chit Chat newsletter states:

By Steve ZindThere was a lot of response to Tuesday’s Vermont Edition program on changing the gas tax.  The idea is in play in the legislature because of a shortfall in the transportation fund which pays for highway and bridge repairs.This Council On Foreign Relations “Renewing America” blog post gives a brief, broad overview of the nation’s deteriorating road conditions and the inability of gas taxes to pay for needed repairs.It appears that Vermont may abandon the tradition of

Now What? That's a fairly common question at select board and school board meetings this time of year, especially in down economy years.

What happens after municipal officials invest time, energy and money planning a project that the voters turn down at town meeting? Should they throw in the towel? Scale down the project and ask again? What about trying to do a better job explaining why the project is needed?

Planners in St. Albans know downtown parking is going to be a hassle this spring and summer. The city's downtown revitalization project will certainly make negotiating Main Street worse, before it makes it better. So to keep shoppers and other downtown business clientele coming, the city is offering up free off-street parking. The town's website states:

The momentum to reform Vermont’s earned income tax credit appeared to run out last week, but Governor Peter Shumlin continues to lobby a small group of state senators. He hopes to strike a deal on his proposal to subsidize child care by redirecting $17 million from the tax credit for poor working Vermonters.

A week after a key House committee narrowly rejected his plan, Shumlin has his work cut out for him in the Senate.

AP/Toby Talbot

The House Transportation Committee is considering a bill that would explore why gasoline prices are higher in certain areas of Vermont.

Gas prices in the northwestern part of the state have been considerably higher than many other regions. The average disparity in prices in Chittenden County is about 22 cents.

Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, is sponsoring a measure that would require distributors to provide data to the attorney general’s office.

Key members of the House are skeptical of a Senate bill that calls for a statewide study of the impact of renewable projects on Vermont’s environment.

Last week, after hours of often heated debate, the Senate passed a stripped-down measure of a bill that originally would have given towns more control in the state review of energy projects that are proposed for their communities.

April showers bring out more than May flowers. They also signal the return of frog and salamander populations, including Vermont's iconic spring peepers. But increased development can mean more hazardous migrations for native amphibians.

After a long week debating budgets, taxes and renewable energy siting policies, Senate and House lawmakers can take a breath as they return to their committees this week to discuss a wide range of topics.The House Judiciary Committee will continue to take testimony on a measure that would decriminalize the poss

Kirk Carapezza / VPR File Photo

Vermont, which continues to emerge as a national health care leader, released on Monday the amount it proposes to charge consumers for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Under the proposed rates, the average cost for an individual would vary from $365.76 for the most basic package to $609.47 for the most comprehensive. Rates for family plans would be higher. People under certain income limits would get federal subsidies to pay for insurance.

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