By Senator Alice Nitka, Windsor County, February 26, 2010
Vermont Yankee/Entergy was in the news for most of the week. On Feb. 24th a vote was taken on Senate bill 289 which addressed the relicensing of the Vernon nuclear plant. The result was twenty-six opposed to granting a license extension beyond 2012 to four in favor of granting the twenty year extension. The full membership of the Senate was present and the four in favor of relicensing were two Democrats and two Republicans. Many citizens from around the state were present at the State House despite the heavy snowfall and difficult driving. Early in the morning several persons who would later in the day be in the building were seen cross country skiing behind the State House and others built snowmen and other sculptures on the front lawn.
Another bill generating interest was S-288, An Act Relating to the VT Recovery and Reinvestment Act, sometimes referred to as the “Jobs Bill” which passed the Senate with a unanimous vote. Some of the proposed investments and goals are Rural Broadband Investment, $8,750,000 for 2009 -10 with a goal of providing service to at least 10,000; VT Economic Development Authority/ VT Jobs Fund, $2,000,000 over 2 years with a goal of subsidizing interest on commercial loans; VT Employment Training Program, $2,900,000 for 2 years with a goal of promoting a highly skilled workforce with state subsidized training; Aviation Training Technical Training Center, $1,150,000 for 2 years with a goal of providing funds for continued planning and design of the center; Neighbor to Neighbor Program, $573,360 for 2 years with a goal of continuing this program which helps disabled and elderly persons to live independently as well as many other initiatives in the bill. S-288 now goes to the House for their consideration.
The “Challenges for Change” bill, S-286 has passed both the House and Senate. It addresses state government and the gap between available revenues and projected expenditures. It challenges policy makers, service providers and school administrators to design better methods for delivering services while spending less money and still achieving the outcomes specified in the bill. For example, the Dept. of Corrections is asked to reduce the number of persons coming into the prison system, decrease the recidivism rate, improve community safety and reduce the budget by $10 million the first year and by another $10 million the second year. A very tall order, however several routes are being reviewed such as reducing the number of detainees in prison who can’t “make bail” or don’t have any bail set. These are persons who have not been convicted of a crime but are charged. There are 395 male inmates in this status of the total male population in prison of 2,115. It is interesting to note that the crime rate is down and has been going down over the last few years but the incarceration rate is up. Incidentally, of the 2,115 men, 678 are serving time at prisons in West Tennessee and Kentucky. A prison bus runs back and forth to these states from VT every two weeks.
View daily committee schedules and all the bills at www.leg.state.vt.us Please feel free to contact me at home, 228-8432; at the State House, 1-800-322-5616; at email@example.com or at PO Box 136, Ludlow, VT 05149.