Thursday January 31, 2013

Vt. to offer spring hunting season for snow geese

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s going to be a special snow geese hunting season this spring.

Vermont officials say the state’s season is being adopted at the recommendation of federal and state wildlife scientists in response to concerns about a growing number of snow geese across North America.

Eight states in the Atlantic flyway, from North Carolina to Vermont, are planning to hold spring snow goose seasons, known formally as a "conservation order."

The state says the populations of snow geese and similar species have grown to record levels over the past three decades.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the overabundance of certain species of geese, which nest in far northern regions of North America, is harming their fragile arctic breeding habitat.

Vt. Veterans Home asks for $2M more

BENNINGTON (AP) -- The Vermont Veterans Home is seeking an additional $2 million in state funding for its budget.

Most of the Bennington home’s funding comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and other health insurance programs. But President Joseph Krawczyk testified Tuesday before a legislative committee that the home will require additional state funds to cover expenses.

Krawczyk testified employees are scheduled for pay raises another contracted benefits.


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He also said electricity and fuel costs are also rising.

Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, a Democrat and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the home might need more than $2 million. Officials said the home is running a deficit in the current budget.

Vt.company touts most expensive teddy bear

SHELBURNE (AP) -- The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is touting what it claims as the world’s most expensive teddy bear, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Shelburne-based company has put a $30,000 price tag on the 4 1/2-foot-tall bear it is calling The Big Hunka Love Diamond Bear.

That’s because the bulk of the price is the 5.9 carat, one-of-a-kind "fire rose" diamond ring made by Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry in Burlington.

The Big Hunka Love bear also comes with a red velvet bowtie.

Vermont Teddy Bear says the Big Hunka Love bear is the most expensive teddy bear the company has ever sold.

Right-to-work bill back before N.H. legislators

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Legislation that would excuse nonunion employees from contract-negotiation fees is up for discussion once again before lawmakers, after two recent failed attempts.

New Hampshire labor leaders, workers and community members were lobbying against the latest bill Wednesday, this one introduced by former House Speaker William O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican.

Legislators defeated a similar bill last year. Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill in 2011.

Like the previous bills, the current bill would permit non-union employees to abstain from paying union fees for contract negotiations.

N.H. legislators discuss tests for elderly drivers

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire legislative committee is taking testimony on a bill that would require elderly drivers to take road tests to renew their driver’s licenses.

Bette Champney told the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday that her husband and another motorcyclist were killed last year when they were hit by a car driven by an 87-year-old man.

The driver also died.

That and other crashes have renewed the debate over whether older drivers should have to take road tests based on their age.

Rep. Tara Sad, D-Walpole, said she thinks 85 might be the age with which to start.

New Hampshire House considering who controls social media

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s House is considering what happens to Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts after the user’s death.

The House voted 222-128 Wednesday to give state Rep. Peter Sullivan, the sponsor of a bill that would have given control to the executor of the deceased person’s estate, time to instead write an amendment that establishes a study of the issue.

Sullivan faced tough odds winning passage of his original proposal. A majority of the House Judiciary Committee recommended that the House kill the bill as unenforceable and premature.

Opponents argued contracts between the user and the social media site outline what happens when the user dies.

Sullivan had argued New Hampshire should join five other states that have laws on what happens to social media accounts after death.

Mass.governor picks ex-aide Cowan as interim senator

BOSTON (AP) -- Gov. Deval Patrick has named William "Mo" Cowan, a former top aide, to serve as interim U.S. senator for Massachusetts until a special election is held to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state.

Patrick formally announced his selection at a Statehouse news conference on Wednesday, calling Cowan a trusted adviser and friend who has earned the respect of people throughout government.

The 43-year-old Cowan said he was humbled by the appointment. He stepped down as the governor’s chief-of-staff last month after previously serving as chief legal counsel.

Cowan says he has no plans to run for any public office in the future and would return to the private sector after his interim appointment.

The North Carolina native will be the state’s second African-American U.S. Senator. Edward Brooke served from 1967-1979.