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VPR News
5:22 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Frat Houses Fret Over Statehouse Tax Bill

The owners of the Sigma Phi fraternity house on College Street in Burlington would owe $31,068 this year in taxes if it didn't have a tax exemption.
Taylor Dobbs VPR

A tax bill in the statehouse has fraternities and sororities in Burlington on the defensive.

The bill would revoke a long-standing tax exemption for the owners of fraternity and sorority housing and require them all to pay taxes based on the appraised value of the property.

For the 10 fraternity and sorority houses in Burlington, those payments add up to $278,120 a year, and the students in those groups say the bill threatens their presence in the university community.

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VPR News
5:30 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Legislators Push 'Reset' On Broadband Goals

A bill moving through the Legislature sets ambitious new broadband goals for Vermont. 

If the goals are met, it would mean high speed fiber optic service for every Vermont location  within the next 10 years. But it's not clear how that goal will be reached, or how the improvements will be paid for.

Until now the state has set incremental targets for broadband coverage – beginning with the goal of simply providing some kind of service to every Vermont address.

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VPR News
5:17 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Thousands Of Vermont Health Connect Customers Stuck On Service Backlog

Vermont leads the nation when it comes to per-capita enrollment in the new health insurance exchange. But for many customers, the transition to Vermont Health Connect has been anything but smooth. And thousands of Vermonters are now stuck in a sort of insurance limbo as the state works to iron out wrinkles in the system.

Nearly a sixth of the state’s population will soon be getting its health coverage through plans sold on the new online exchange. And officials in the Shumlin Administration say they’ve exceeded their enrollment targets.

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VPR News
5:59 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Report Of Second Dead Child Rattles Lawmakers

The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations is investigating the death of a second child in Vermont within the past few months, raising ire among some lawmakers about the lack of information shared with them by state officials.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chairman of the special Senate Review Panel on Child Protection, learned Wednesday through the media of the death of a 14-month-old boy in Winooski on or around April 4.

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Vermont Edition
12:00 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Progressive Legislative Roundup

House Progressive Caucus leader Representative Chris Pearson.
VPR/Peter Hirschfeld

When the 2014 legislative session started, leaders in the Progressive Party were expressing concern with some of the policies of Governor Shumlin. How do they feel about the Governor now as the session winds down?

We’ll talk with the House Progressive Caucus leader, Burlington Representative Chris Pearson, and with Enosburg Representative Cindy Weed and Senator David Zuckerman about the progressive legislative priorities for the end of the session.

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VPR News
6:03 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Brattleboro Voters Overturn Budget

Fifteen percent of the town's voters cast ballots in Brattleboro's budget revote. Almost half voted early, by absentee ballot.
Susan Keese VPR

Voters in Brattleboro overturned the town’s 2015 municipal budget in a town-wide ballot Thursday. The $16 million spending plan was approved at Brattleboro’s representative town meeting on March 22. But later, more than the required 50 town meeting representatives signed a petition to revisit the budget in a town-wide referendum. The budget failed by a wide margin, 771 to 478.

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VPR News
5:51 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Lawmakers Put Pressure On Shumlin To Clean Up Lakes

House lawmakers have given final approval to legislation that aims to expedite the clean-up of Vermont waterways. But the bill that passed the floor Thursday doesn’t include any funding for the effort. And even its chief proponent says it won’t address the pollution crisis unfolding in places like Lake Champlain.

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VPR News
5:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Hand Held Cell Phone Ban For Drivers Is Stalled At Statehouse

VPR/Angela Evancie

Two key Senate committees have fundamental differences about the scope of a bill that would ban cell phone use while driving. Those differences could derail the legislation for the session.

Earlier this year, the House overwhelmingly supported legislation that prohibits drivers from using hand-held phones and other electronic devices.

One of the primary goals of the legislation is to give law enforcement officials a new tool to crack down on drivers who text while operating a car.

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VPR News
6:16 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Lawmakers Look To Boost Pay For Construction Workers

Members of the Vermont House want to boost the wages of laborers working on many state-funded projects. But leaders in the Senate are worried about how the proposal would impact local construction firms. And supporters of the legislation are running out of time.

The bill could pump as much as $3 million into the wallets of construction workers, according to an analysis conducted by the legislative analysts. It would do so by requiring firms who bid on some state-funded capital projects to pay prevailing wages as determined by the federal government.

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