News February 28

Senator Sanders

Dental Crisis Sen. Bernie Sanders will chair a hearing Wednesday on the dental crisis in America. "We have a real crisis both in terms of access to affordable dental care and the consequences of a lack of treatment," he told The Nation. LINK

Postal Service Sen. Sanders is pushing for legislative changes that would stop or delay mass closings of mail processing centers. He and 26 other senators recently signed a letter to congressional sponsors of postal legislation seeking to prevent cuts to first-class mail delivery, the Middletown, N.Y.,Times Herald-Record and the Crawford County (Ill.) Daily News reported. LINK, LINK

USPS A constructive alternative proposal has been advanced by David C. Williams, inspector general of the USPS. In a letter to Sanders, he said "one option to provide needed short-term flexibility for the Postal Service to address its current financial crisis" would eliminate a requirement for the postal service to make annual $5.5 billion payments into a retiree health benefit fund that already has accumulated $44 billion, William Murphy wrote in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. LINK 

World

Syria In a referendum that western leaders called a farce, the Syrian government announced Monday that voters approved a new Constitution. The news came as activists said that scores of people had been killed across the country in the government's violent crackdown, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Dental ER More Americans are turning to the emergency room for routine dental problems - a choice that often costs 10 times more than preventive care and offers far fewer treatment options than a dentist's office, according to an analysis of government data and dental research. Most of those emergency visits involve trouble such as toothaches that could have been avoided with regular checkups but went untreated, in many cases because of a shortage of dentists, particularly those willing to treat Medicaid patients, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Dental Care Cuts in RI Rhode Island would no longer cover routine dental care for low-income adults under a proposal by Gov. Lincoln Chafee that aims to save the state $2.7 million. Public health advocates say the state could end up paying more if people show up at emergency rooms with serious complications from preventable dental problems, AP reported. LINK

Keystone Pipeline The Canadian firm hoping to build a massive oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. gulf coast announced Monday that it will push ahead with plans to construct a segment from Oklahoma to Texas. The White House welcomed TransCanada's plans for the southern pipeline segment, and he pledged that a new application for the pipeline from Alberta, Canada, would receive a thorough assessment, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Reid: Republicans Biased Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said prejudice against Hispanics is part of the reason Senate Republicans are blocking immigration reform and the confirmation of a Hispanic State Department nominee, National Journal reported. LINK

Vermont

Vermont Poll Vermonters oppose Citizens United, love Obama and would prefer to see their governors serve four-year terms, according to the results of a poll released today by the Castleton Polling Institute. It's the first survey of registered voters indicated that 76 percent of Vermonters favor a constitutional amendment to limit spending on political campaigns, the Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK

Renewable Energy A bipartisan group of governors agreed to lobby Congress for a four-year extension of renewable energy tax credits, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday. Shumlin, in Washington for a National Governors Association meeting, said he told President Obama that the governors would partner with him, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Vermont Yankee The nuclear plant owner is appealing a federal court order saying the judge didn't address the possibility that state regulators could close the plant by denying it permission to store high-level radioactive waste on its property, Vermont Public Radio reported. The Shumlin administration, meanwhile proposed a steep increase in the fee Entergy Vermont Yankee pays to discharge heated water into the Connecticut River. LINK, LINK

Citizens United Sen. Virginia Lyons sat on stage at St. Michaels College on Monday waving dollar bills in the air. "Do you get it? I'm speaking!" Lyons said, referencing the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, which Lyons said defined money as speech and corporations as people, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK