Thursday January 3, 2013

Shumlin urges pension reform after police case

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he’s going to push for pension reform legislation in the aftermath of the case in which a former state police trooper was charged with padding his time sheets.

Shumlin made the announcement Wednesday during a news conference where he and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn discussed other needed changes.

Last summer, former Sgt. Jim Deeghan was charged with claiming overtime he never worked. He has pleaded not guilty.

The legislation being proposed by Shumlin would ensure that public employees forfeit some or all of their pensions if they are convicted of certain crimes. It would not apply to the Deeghan case.

Other state officials say they would work to ensure the legislation is passed in the session that gets under way next week.

Weather Service says 2012 Vermont’s warmest ever

BURLINGTON (AP) -- The National Weather Service says 2012 was the warmest year on record in Vermont’s largest city.

Statistics kept by the Weather Service show the yearly mean temperature for Burlington last year was 50 degrees, beating the previous record of 48.4 degrees, which was set in 1998.

Records have been kept in Burlington since 1884.

The average yearly temperature from 1980-2010 was 46 degrees.

The top four warmest years on record have been since 1998.


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The fifth warmest year was in 1898.

New Hampshire teen pregnancy center closing its doors

LEBANON, N.H. (AP) -- A residential program that serves teenage mothers in parts of New Hampshire and Vermont is closing its doors, in part because of declines in teen birthrates.

But the closing of Hannah House in Lebanon, N.H., will leave some teenagers without the social services they have come to depend on.

Nationwide teen pregnancies have been declining for two decades and New Hampshire and Vermont have had among the lowest rates of teen pregnancies in the country.

Hannah’s House has rooms for six young women who are pregnant or are new mothers.

Recently the house had only one resident.

Executive Director Randy Walker says the trend now is to place young mothers with relatives.

He says officials hope to save outreach programs.

Governor-elect names her budget director

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has tapped a member of the legislature’s budget office to be her budget director.

Hassan says Gerard Murphy of Concord brings years of budgeting experience and knowledge to the post of budget director -- having served the past three in the Legislative Budgeting Assistant’s office.

Murphy’s previous experience includes budgeting roles in the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and in New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Hassan says a balanced budget is the cornerstone of a strong economy and reiterated her intent to balance the budget without resorting to a sales or income tax.

Hassan on Thursday will be inaugurated the 81st governor of New Hampshire, succeeding Gov. John Lynch.

Massachusetts to stop housing homeless families in hotels

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts intends to phase out a program that places homeless families in hotels and motels at taxpayer expense when there is no room in emergency shelters.

Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, says the state aims to phase out the program by June 2014.

It cost the state $45 million during the 2012 fiscal year as some families stayed in hotels for months.

Homeless families are placed in hotels when the 2,000 rooms in the state’s family emergency shelter system reach capacity. There were 1,700 families in hotels last month.

Gornstein said the program is not an efficient use of resources. Most hotels have no cooking facilities or play spaces for children.

Advocates for the homeless worry families will end up on the streets.

Lawmakers seek study on Mass. gun laws

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts already has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, but legislative leaders see room for improvement.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday asked Jack McDevitt, an associate dean at Northeastern University, to lead a special commission on gun violence, with a possible focus on keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

McDevitt said the recent killings of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has galvanized interest in protecting innocent people from gun violence.

DeLeo said the commission’s findings could lead to new legislation in the coming months.

Senate President Therese Murray also said Wednesday that she has discussed possible legislation that would address gun violence "without demonizing the mentally ill."

GOP Sen. Brown faults likely Democratic rival

BOSTON (AP) -- Republican Sen. Scott Brown hasn’t said whether he’ll run for John Kerry’s Senate seat, but he’s already taking a shot at a possible Democratic rival.

Brown, who lost his re-election battle last year to Elizabeth Warren, questioned how much time U.S. Rep. Edward Markey spends in Massachusetts.

Markey, a Malden Democrat, has said he’ll run for Kerry’s seat if Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.

Speaking on WTKK-FM Wednesday, Brown said of Markey, "Does he even live here?" Markey and his wife own Markey’s boyhood home in Malden, but also own a home in Chevy Chase, Md.

A Markey campaign aide accused Brown of launching "false, personal attacks" and said Markey has lived in Malden his entire life.

Brown, who also owns a home in Washington, said he has been flying home from Washington every weekend for nearly three years and has never seen Markey on an airplane.