Thursday March 14, 2013

New funding sources eyed for heat efficiency

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A Vermont House committee is eyeing new funding for energy initiatives that had appeared doomed for lack of money just weeks ago.

Lawmakers have been trying to come up with money to pay for stepped up weatherization of homes, expanded state support for low-income heating assistance and subsidies for the renewable energy industry.

Gov. Peter Shumlin wanted to use about $17 million raised from a new tax on charitable betting tickets known as break-open tickets. But lawmakers say there are big doubts the tax would raise anywhere near that much, and that they don’t want to hurt the charitable efforts ticket sales pay for.

Now under consideration: a new energy efficiency charge on heating fuels, or shifting sales tax revenues on fuels sold to businesses to a dedicated energy fund.

Vermont air show canceled due to cuts

ESSEX JUNCTION (AP) -- Organizers have canceled this summer’s "Wings Over Vermont" air show, saying they couldn’t continue with plans for the August event after studying the impact of automatic federal spending cuts that took effect this month.

The Vermont National Guard Foundation announced the cancellation Wednesday. The U.S. Air Force Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, were scheduled to headline the show.

"The implementation of across-the-board cuts in federal spending has caused the curtailment of the Thunderbirds 2013 show schedule.


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Effective April 1, all of the team’s performances have been cancelled," according to the Thunderbirds’ web site.

The foundation noted the Department of Defense directed the Air Force to cancel aviation support to public events for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Rick Brehm, director of the Wings Over Vermont Air Show, said there was no single factor that stood out as the reason for cancelling the show. But he added resources no longer can be committed with the hope the budget cuts will be reversed.

Vt. officials: It’s time to remove bird feeders

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is urging people to take down their bird feeders to avoid attracting hungry bears emerging from their winter dens.

Col. David LeCours of the department recommends taking down the bird feeders and not feeding birds until Dec. 1.

Bears often eat seeds in the wild, so a birdfeeder full of seed is a concentrated source of what a bear considers natural food.

LeCours also advises not to leave pet food outside, wash down barbecues after using them. Garbage containers also should be secured.

N.H. House votes to reverse voter registration law

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The House has voted to change a voter registration law that will make it clear that out-of-state college students have a right to vote in New Hampshire.

Wednesday’s 190-149 vote sent a bill to the Senate that changes the voter registration form to remove references to registering motor vehicles and drivers’ licensing requirements.

State Rep. Shawn Jasper, a Hudson Republican, argued students should be notified of the requirements if they claim New Hampshire as their legal domicile and residence for voting purposes.

But State Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat, said the right to vote has nothing to do with registering a car or getting a driver’s license.

A judge put the law on hold last fall before the election and ordered the state to issue new voter registration forms.

N.H. forum explores economic impact of arts, culture

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, who now helps oversee the National Endowment for the Arts, says the next economy will run on creativity.

Hodes, who was appointed by the Obama administration to the National Council on the Arts, spoke Wednesday at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts’ forum on how arts and culture support the state’s economy. He said employers are increasingly seeking creativity in new hires.

The forum also included discussion of a recent report showing that 162 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in New Hampshire create $115 million in annual economic activity.

N.H. House approves raising speed limit

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Drivers would be able to go 70 miles per hour on a stretch of Interstate 93 north of Concord, N.H. under a bill headed to the Senate.

The House voted 292-65 Wednesday to raise the limit from 65 mph to 70 mph from Exit 18 to the Vermont border. The current speed limit would remain the same through Franconia Notch.

The House rejected bills raising the limit as high as 75 mph on the interstate system.