New England briefs

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14 candidates running in Vermont Presidential Primary

Ten Republicans and four Democrats have qualified to be placed on the ballot in Vermont's March 1 presidential primary.

State law requires any candidate seeking to have his or her name printed on the ballot of a major party presidential primary to file petitions signed by no fewer than 1,000 registered Vermont voters, along with a $2,000 filing fee.

Joining Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley on the Democratic ballot is Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, a California businessman.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Anyone registering for the first time or in a new town can do so online at www.olvr.sec.state.vt.us. Voters can then access and update information about their registration and polling place on the My Voter Page at www.mvp.sec.state.vt.us.

Vermont reaffirms goal of 90 percent renewable by 2050

The state of Vermont is reaffirming its commitment to getting 90 percent of the state's energy from renewable sources by 2050.

To help reach that goal, Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, officials and lawmakers on Tuesday outlined the state's updated comprehensive energy plan.

Some of the interim steps include reaffirming the legal goal of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 and reducing per capita energy consumption by 15 percent by the same date.

One of the ways to reach those objectives will be to convert more heat and transportation energy to efficient electric technologies such as heat pumps and electric vehicles.

At a Statehouse event, Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia said Vermonters are showing they want sources of clean, renewable energy.

Vermont cites turkey hunt data to gauge flock health

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says the state's turkey hunt was about average last year.

Statistics released Monday by Fish and Wildlife show that 5,874 turkeys were taken during Vermont's three hunting seasons - the spring youth hunt, the regular May spring season, and the fall hunt.

Turkey Project Leader Amy Alfieri says turkey reproduction was above average in 2015, but severe winters and wet springs over the past couple years may have contributed to a lower-than-average harvest this fall.

Biologists estimate Vermont's wild turkey population is between 45,000 to 60,000 birds.

Shumlin defends $1 million from Enterprise Fund for company

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is defending his decision to give $1 million from the state's Enterprise Fund to Global Foundries, the successor to IBM in Essex Junction.

The decision has been criticized by some lawmakers, but Shumlin says it encouraged $79 million in new investment by the company.

Dozens of lawmakers last week wrote to Shumlin to say the money could better have been used to help address some of the state's budget troubles.

But at an appearance Monday before the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Shumlin said if the former IBM plant in Essex Junction — which Global Foundries took over last year — were to close, the impacts would be greater than $1 million in state revenues.

Gov. LePage takes a pass on State of the State speech

Facing an impeachment effort, Gov. Paul LePage is skipping the traditional State of the State address to a joint session of the Maine Legislature.

LePage told radio station WVOM in Bangor on Tuesday that it'd be "silliness" for him to face lawmakers a couple of weeks after some of them tried to impeach him.

Instead, he said, "I'll send them a letter and call it a day."

Peter Steele, communications director for LePage, confirmed that the Republican is opting to deliver a written message instead of a live address.

A small group of Democrats who've accused the governor of abusing his power for pressuring an organization to rescind a job offer to House Speaker Mark Eves plans to press for an investigation that could lead to impeachment when the House convenes on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the governor previously called the claims "frivolous."

LePage has delivered the annual address to the Legislature but there's no requirement for a formal speech. The Maine Constitution says only that the governor "shall from time to time give the Legislature information of the condition of the state."

Steele said there's historical precedent for both Maine governors and U.S. presidents to deliver their annual addresses to lawmakers in writing.

"This was done in the past before Gov. Curtis began the modern tradition of doing it live in front of the Legislature. Historically, the U.S. president also delivered a written message to Congress until President Wilson began delivering it live," Steele said.

Sea turtles brought south from New England for treatment

Cold weather in New England has meant more patients for sea turtle hospitals in the South.

The South Carolina Aquarium said five loggerhead sea turtles stunned by the cold were flown south Monday from the New England Aquarium in Massachusetts.

Three of the turtles are being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston while the other two are being treated at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Officials say that cold weather off New England earlier this month stunned about 400 turtles.

When temperatures in shallow water get too cold, turtles can be stunned in a condition similar to hypothermia. Stunned turtles tend to float the surface and some wash ashore or become easy prey for predators.

– The Associated Press


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