News February 26

Wind Moratorium A Vermont state Senate committee today will take up a bill that would impose a three-year moratorium on utility-scale wind projects in the state. Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes a moratorium that he said would slow progress on developing alternative sources of energy nationwide, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Energy Efficiency Thirty-two residents in Mount Holly, Vt., weatherized their homes last year as part of an energy efficiency contest and clinched a $10,000 prize from NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to insulate the town offices. “Weatherization saves families hundreds of dollars on fuel bills every year, supports jobs in our state, keeps more of our energy dollars in state, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions,” Sen. Sanders said in the Rutland Herald. LINK

Global Warming Sen. Sanders proposed a fee on emissions that cause global warming. Sen. David Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate environment committee, opposed the Sanders-Boxer bill. He told the Lafourche Parish, La., Daily Comet that “the cost of nearly everything built in America would go up” as a result. Sue Prent called it “a nice idea” in a Green Mountain Daily blog claiming that the measure “would significantly bolster” nuclear energy. LINK, LINK

Treasury Secretary Sen. Charles Grassley said on Monday he would vote against Jacob Lew when the Senate Finance Committee takes up the nomination today. Grassley said was bothered by the “hypocrisy” of Lew’s investment in a Cayman Islands tax shelter. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Sanders also have signaled they will oppose Lew, The Wall Street Journal reported online. Sanders’ opposes Lew because of his ties to Wall Street, according to Breitbart  and Townhall. LINK, LINK, LINK

Income Tax Turns 100 In a single generation during the 20th century, progressive taxes helped the United States go from a nation two-thirds poor to a nation two-thirds middle class. Today’s low tax rates on the wealthy, however, have widened the income and wealth gap. “The United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth,” Sen. Sanders said in The American Prospect retrospective on the 100th anniversary of the 16th Amendment authorizing the income tax. The erosion of progressive tax rates resulted in inequality that is “worse today in America than at any time since the late 1920s,” Sanders said. LINK

World

Italy Election projections showed no sign of a coalition strong enough to form a government in Italy, Reuters reported. The country’s two houses in parliament were deadlocked Monday evening following a vote characterized as largely anti-austerity. Growing political uncertainty may lead to a revival of Italy’s debt crisis, still burdened by a two-trillion Euro debt.  LINK

South Korea South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, was sworn in Monday, delivering an address focused on improvement of the South Korean economy and demanding North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Sequester President Obama spoke to the nation’s governors on Monday, asking them to put pressure on Congress to avoid sequestration through a compromise on spending and revenue, CBS News reported. "These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little bit of compromise. While you are in town I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation" and remind them what's at stake,” Obama said. LINK

Lew: No Carbon Tax “The administration has not proposed a carbon tax, nor is it planning to do so,” Treasury secretary nominee Jacob Lew wrote in response to questions from Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, The Hill reported. The committee is scheduled to vote on Lew’s nomination today. The administration has consistently distanced itself from carbon pricing, a measure endorsed by many policy wonks as the most effective means of addressing global warming, National Journal reported.

Gun Safety Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has released a series of gun-violence prevention bills for mark-up in the panel on Thursday, Politico reported. The bills include measures to stop illegal gun trafficking, require universal background checks, and increase school safety. LINK

Senate to Vote on Hagel The Senate is slated to vote Tuesday on proceeding with the nomination of Chuck Hagel to Defense Secretary, The Associated Press reported, after GOP Senators signaled late Monday they would no longer block the nomination. LINK

S&P Lawsuit The United States Justice Department included details on more than 25 former and current Standards & Poor’s employees allegedly involved in fraudulent subprime mortgage approvals in its lawsuit against the financial ratings agency. The suit is the only current attempt to charge anyone in relation to the financial crisis that led to the recession, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election, The New York Times reported. LINK

Blizzards National Weather Service officials issued blizzard warnings and watches in Kansas and Oklahoma through late Monday, marking the second blizzard in less than a week for the region. The storm is tracking north and east, also hitting West Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Vermont

Sequester Gov. Peter Shumlin expressed concern Monday if Congress does not stop across-the-board spending cuts due to kick in Friday. At the White House after a meeting with President Obama and other governors, Shumlin declared: “There is no way the state of Vermont has the cash to mitigate the impacts on our most vulnerable, on our military, on our teachers, on our law enforcement, the Times Argus reported. 

Solar Street Lights Vermont's largest electric utility and the city of Rutland are getting the go-ahead for a pilot solar streetlight program. The Public Service Board approved the collaborative project between Green Mountain Power and Rutland, AP reported. LINK

Gun Safety Rep. George Till is introducing legislation to impose a 48-hour waiting period on retail transactions at gun shops, in an effort to reduce gun suicides. 124 of the 130 gun deaths in Vermont over the past two years were due to suicide, VPR reported. LINK

F-35s Brig Gen. Steven Cray, the Vermont National Guard’s incoming adjutant general, said he was not concerned over a grounding order for a group of F-35 fighter jets that might be coming to South Burlington. He spoke to a rally of about 300 supporters of bringing the next generation of fighter jet to the National Guard in Vermont, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK