News February 4

Senator Sanders

Vaccinations A measles outbreak in the United States has started a new debate on the merits of mandatory vaccination of all children, which currently is required only in Mississippi and West Virginia. “Obviously, vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Daily Beast. “I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that’s wrong.” LINK

White House Budget White House Budget Director Shaun Donovan on Tuesday defended President Barack Obama's budget proposal before the Senate Budget Committee. “We need a budget that creates millions of jobs, raises wages, makes college more affordable, and demands that the wealthiest people in this country pay their fair share," Sen. Sanders said in The Fiscal Times. The budget “moves us in the right direction,” Sanders said on KUIK-AM in Portland, Oregon. At the hearing, Sanders praised the Obama administration on job growth and cutting a $1.4 trillion deficit, Talk Radio News Service reported. As the panel’s ranking member, Sanders will need to approve any prospective deal between Democrats and Republicans, US News & World Report said. LINK, LINK, LINK, AUDIO

Congressional Budget Office The House and Senate Budget committees have accelerated efforts to choose a new Congressional Budget Office director. House Chairman Tom Price and Senate Budget Chairman Michael Enzi initially were considering more than a dozen potential candidates. As has been the practice in the past, the ranking members of the budget committees, Sen. Sanders and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, have been included in the final interviews, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK

No Austerity With the recent victory by the anti-austerity party in Greece, progressives in the United States must fight against Republican austerity measures, Richard Eskow wrote for The Huffington Post. Sen. Sanders said the victory in Greece "tells us that people around the world will no longer accept austerity for working families while the rich get richer." LINK  

Trade Deal Despite declining wages and an increasing income gap, the White House and Republicans are pushing another disastrous free trade agreement. Sen. Sanders pushed for greater transparency in a letter to the U.S. trade representative, Heather Gautney noted in The Huffington Post. LINK

Burlington College The sale of a large portion of the Burlington College campus to a developer has been finalized, the college said Tuesday. A developer paid $7.65 million for 27 acres on the campus of the financially-strapped college and plans to buy the main building on the campus for $2 million. The college in 2010 borrowed $10 million to buy the property under former President Jane Sanders, the wife of Sen. Sanders, VTDigger reported. LINK

Watters’ World The Bennington Banner said Fox News’ Jesse Watters responded on Monday to students at Mount Anthony Union High School who had accused him of unethical journalism in a piece that used man-on-the-street interviews in Bennington to demonstrate that Vermonters are liberal. "Are you denying that Vermont is a liberal state?" Watters asked. "I've got two words for you: Bernie Sanders. Here's another: socialist." LINK, VIDEO


Jordan Hangs Two Jihadists Jordan hanged two Iraqi jihadists on Wednesday including a female militant in response to an Islamic State video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive by the hardline group. Sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack in Amman, Rishawi was executed at dawn, according to Reuters. LINK

Argentina Plot Thickens A warrant for the arrest of President Cristina Kirchner was found in the home of recently-deceased prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, The New York Times reported.  LINK


Homeland Security Senate Democrats Tuesday stopped a Republican plan to use funding for the Department of Homeland Security to block President Barack Obama's immigration actions, Reuters reported.  LINK

Veterans Bill A bill aimed at reducing suicide among military veterans is headed to the president for his signature after having passed the Senate on Tuesday, AP reported. LINK  

Intelligence Data Collection The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Tuesday that the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies must delete any communications data after five years if not relevant for intelligence requirements, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Refinery Strike Resumes A strike by U.S. refinery workers entered a third day on Tuesday as contact resumed between the lead industry negotiator and union leaders, Reuters reported.   LINK


Vaccinations Three years after a bruising debate brought some changes to Vermont's laws on childhood immunizations, some lawmakers are considering revisiting the issue amid a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people across the U.S. and in Mexico. A Senate passed-bill in 2012 was significantly scaled back in the House after critics called it an assault on parents' right to choose whether to have their children vaccinated, The Associated Press reported.

Doctor Shortage Fewer Vermonters than ever are without insurance, thanks largely to a recent expansion of Medicaid. But just because low-income residents have insurance doesn’t necessarily mean they’re having an easier time finding a doctor. Over the past year or so, tens of thousands of Vermonters have become newly eligible for Medicaid as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act. But there’s one big problem with Medicaid: It only pays doctors about 60 percent of what it costs to care for a patient. And it’s created a disturbing dilemma for many primary care doctors: Turn away Medicaid patients, or suffer financially for taking them on, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Disaster Declaration Ten of Vermont's 14 counties have been declared federal disaster areas, which will help defray the costs of repairing public and utility infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed in the storms that hit the state last month. The declaration means the affected areas will be eligible for federal reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the costs of storm response and recovery, according to AP.

Dairy and the State Economy A new study says the dairy industry brings $2.2 billion in economic activity to Vermont each year, and that dairy accounts for more than 70 percent of the state's agricultural sales. The study was funded by the Vermont Dairy Promotion council, AP reported. 

Milk Monopoly Vermont lawmakers will be getting an update from the attorney general's office on the status of a proposed $50 million settlement that the cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay thousands of Northeast farmers to settle antitrust allegations. A judge is expected to decide soon whether to approve the settlement and farmers now have until May to submit a claim, AP reported.

30% of Vermont Lacks Broadband The Federal Communications Commission last week significantly raised the bar on what constitutes high speed broadband. In doing so, it created an even greater challenge to delivering broadband to rural customers, including those in Vermont. Vermont Telecommunications Director Jim Porter says about 70 percent of Vermont addresses have speeds that already meet the new standard, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Veterans Home Officials at the Vermont Veterans’ Home say they expect to need the state to cover about 25 percent of their total budget for the foreseeable future as the home looks to combat the demographics and economics working against it. Chief Operating Officer Melissa Jackson gave the House Appropriations Committee an overview Tuesday of the home’s $22 million budget for the 2016 fiscal year. She said the home is counting on about $5.5 million from the state, the Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK