News January 9

Senator Sanders

New York Fed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has left the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, more than six months after lawmakers called for his resignation because of JPMorgan's multibillion-dollar trading scandal. Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would prevent bank executives from serving on the boards of regional Fed banks, the American Banker and Bloomberg News reported. Sanders had also pushed for a 2011 study from the Government Accountability Office that called on the Fed to take steps to prevent conflicts of interest on the boards of its regional banks. "This is not just a perception problem - the problem is real," Sanders said. LINK

McConnell is ‘Dead Wrong’ Sen. Sanders said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was “dead wrong” when he said that the tax debate is over and now it’s time to cut spending. “Sen. McConnell is dead wrong when he rules out additional revenue as part of the solution to our deficit crisis,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “He is also wrong when he suggests the solution to the deficit situation is to cut Social Security, veterans’ benefits, Medicare and Medicaid,” The Hill reported online. LINK

Bennington School Budget The Mount Anthony Union Finance Committee asked school administrators to trim a budget request. One board member suggested eliminating the $27,000 budget for the high school's Twilight Program which allows students at risk of dropping out to work mornings and attend classes after the normal school day. The program has been praised by Sen. Sanders as a creative way to get at-risk teenagers to graduate, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK

Guns “Vermont gun laws are among the weakest of any state … In 1990 the powerful NRA helped defeat congressman Peter Smith who lost the election to Bernie Sanders. Sanders later opposed the Brady Bill …” Dr. Margaret Newton wrote in a letter to the editor of the Brattleboro Reformer. LINK

Independent Senator New Maine Sen. Angus King decided to caucus with Democrats after conferring with fellow independent Sen. Sanders and others, he told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. LINK

National

Hottest Year on Record 2012, the year of a surreal March heat wave, a severe drought and a massive storm that caused broad devastation in the mid-Atlantic states, turns out to have been the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States, The New York Times reported. Scientists expressed doubt that such a striking new record would have been set without the backdrop of global warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. LINK

Flu Outbreaks U.S. emergency rooms have been overwhelmed with flu patients, turning away some of them and others with non-life-threatening conditions for lack of space. Forty-one states are battling widespread influenza outbreaks, ABC News reported. LINK

Vermont

Gun Sales Soar Sales of firearms are soaring in Vermont and across the country. In Vermont, the number of FBI background checks conducted on prospective buyers climbed from 3,191 in November to 4,845 in December — an increase of more than 50 percent, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

USPS The Postal Service is holding meetings in Vermont communities to give residents a chance to discuss options in advance of cutbacks. At a recent meeting in Barnard and in surveys, customers chose cutting back hours instead of closing the post office. Postal service spokesman Tom Rizzo said in some cases hours are being cut from eight to six, but many of the 141 Vermont post offices will see hours cut in half, The Associated Press reported. LINK

State Hospital Gov. Peter Shumlin said federal funds and insurance payments will cover about 70 percent of the cost of a new state hospital and other improvements to the mental health system. The old Waterbury state hospital was flooded by Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA and insurance payments will cover $30 million of the $42 million cost of a new 25-bed Berlin facility, plus new beds in Brattleboro, Rutland and at a temporary facilities in Middlesex and Morrisville, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Welch Secures Medicare Help Tucked away in last week's “fiscal cliff” compromise was a provision that will provide several million dollars to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital under a program that helps small rural hospitals with a high percentage of Medicare patients. Funding for the program expired on September 30, but Rep. Peter Welch worked with colleagues from rural states to include funds for the program in the compromise, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Legislature Convenes The Vermont Legislature is set to convene for the 2013 session. Wednesday's opening day will be largely symbolic with the House and Senate each electing its leaders. On Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin will be inaugurated at the Statehouse to his second two-year term, AP reported. LINK