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Journal Archives

Half of Vermont towns will see increased property tax rates

The numbers are in.

Two weeks after lawmakers and the governor resolved a budget impasse centered on a dispute over property taxes, the Department of Taxes published the rates taxpayers will see reflected in their bills this year.

More than half of the towns in Vermont, 135 out of 249, will see higher average homestead property tax rates than last year — even though Gov. Phil Scott was able to harness surplus money to prevent a hike in the average residential property tax.

But that’s no surprise. In May, the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office predicted that this would happen.

Scott and lawmakers bought down the average statewide rates, but that doesn’t change the fact that some towns voted to spend more on education than others and will see higher rates.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2018/07/15/great-headline-property-tax-rates/

Sanders rakes in campaign dough

Sen. Bernie Sanders once again led the pack in fundraising in the second quarter of the year.

The Vermont independent had nearly $7.6 million in his war chest at the end of June, according to the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Over the course of three months, Sanders raised $1.4 million. The entire amount came in the form of contributions from individuals, according to his campaign. Sanders has continued his strategy from his 2016 presidential bid of asking supporters for small donations of $27.

Sanders, who has sworn off donations from committees associated with corporations, reported no money from political action committees.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2018/07/16/sanders-rakes-in-campaign-dough/

Missing South Carolina cat safely recovered in Falmouth

FALMOUTH — Lucy, the South Carolina cat who accidentally hitched a ride to Maine, will soon be on her way home.

Lisa Smith, a volunteer with Maine Lost Cat Recovery and executive director of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team shelter in Cumberland, said traps were set July 13 in “the three locations that sounded the most promising,” based on sightings reported by residents in the Hartford Avenue area.

Early the next morning, when the traps were checked, Lucy was in one and a raccoon was in the other, Smith said. She said Lucy may be headed home as early as Thursday, accompanied by a HART volunteer.

“After several sightings, we put traps out in likely places and baited them with food,” Smith said. She said Lucy, a 2-year-old calico, was in “surprisingly good shape. She was a little thin, but has bounced back very nicely (over the weekend).”

Read more: http://www.theforecaster.net/missing-south-carolina-cat-safely-recovered-in-falmouth/

What's this thread worth without pictures?

23 injured after explosion hurls 'basketball-sized' lava bomb onto tour boat

KAPOHO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least 23 people were injured Monday morning after a lava explosion sent rocks and other debris flying into the air onto a tour boat in waters off the coast of Kapoho, according to Hawaii County officials.

A 'basketball-sized' lava bomb punctured the roof of the tour boat, which was carrying about 49 passengers while observing Kilauea's Kapoho ocean entry point, leaving a large hole and seriously injuring at least one woman.

The woman was later airlifted to the Queen's Medical Center on Oahu for emergency treatment, family members tell Hawaii News Now. County officials say the woman, believed to be in her twenties, suffered a fractured femur.

The incident, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson, is currently the subject of a multi-agency investigation that also involves the U.S. Coast Guard and Hawaii County police.

Read more: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/38655817/at-least-23-injured-after-lava-explosion-near-tour-boat-off-big-island

Maine lawmakers in special session finally respond to opioid crisis

AUGUSTA — After two years of virtually no progress, the most recent session of the Legislature finally produced what treatment advocates regard as meaningful responses to Maine’s epidemic of opioid abuse.

Three new laws moved forward earlier this month, despite veto attempts by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The first funds the creation of a so-called $6.6 million “hub-and-spoke” initiative to align treatment and recovery programs to ensure that fewer people who need help slip through the cracks or relapse without intervention.

The money in the legislation helps pay for medication-assisted treatment – such as methadone and Suboxone – for the uninsured, who are the most likely to lack access to treatment. Some 400 to 500 people will gain assistance.

Read more: https://www.pressherald.com/2018/07/16/lawmakers-in-special-session-finally-responded-to-opioid-crisis/

Paul LePage defends hold up on public campaign funds

PORTLAND (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage on Friday defended his refusal to release over $1 million in overdue public campaign funds to more than 120 legislative candidates and one gubernatorial hopeful.

LePage and his finance chief Alec Porteous argued in legal briefs that the courts can’t decide whether a governor should sign a financial order. Their lawyer argued that candidates have failed to prove that the hold on some public campaign funds will cause “irreparable harm” to their campaigns.

Several publicly financed candidates and an advocacy group are suing LePage and Porteous for refusing to sign routine financial orders this spring to release the money, which was due through June. The governor’s move left Maine’s ethics commission able to only pay out 26 percent of the $1.4 million it owed candidates for that period.

“The governor must follow the law and release the funding. There is no legal excuse for throwing the election into turmoil,” said John Brautigam, an attorney for the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.

Read more: http://www.sunjournal.com/paul-lepage-defends-hold-up-on-public-campaign-funds/

Maine physician declares she will challenge Collins in 2020

MILBRIDGE — A longtime physician who moved to Maine three years ago announced Monday she plans to run as a Democrat against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2020.

Dr. Cathleen London said the state’s four-term Republican senator “has forgotten who she represents.”

“Rather than putting her constituents first, it has become apparent that when it comes to the tough decisions, it is President Donald Trump and the GOP first and Mainers last,” London said.

Collins has not said anything about her plans for the 2020 race, but others are not wasting time declaring they want to beat her.

Read more: http://www.sunjournal.com/maine-physician-declares-she-will-challenge-susan-collins-in-2020/

Woman claimed 'gross misconduct,' filed whistle-blower suit over concealed gun permits

TALLAHASSEE - A former supervisor in Adam Putnam’s Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sued the agency in 2013, claiming “gross misconduct” in the handling of gun permit applications and that quotas for approving concealed weapon permits “guaranteed abuse,” according to documents reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times.

In a whistle-blower lawsuit filed in a Leon County circuit court , the former chief of the Bureau of License Issuance, Xenia Bailey, said she was threatened with retaliation for saying workers were deficient in processing licensing applications, and that her bosses told her she “worked for the NRA [National Rifle Association].”

The agency denied most of Bailey’s allegations in court filings. But in a settlement signed in 2016, the agency agreed to pay $30,000, without admitting wrongdoing, including a $10,000 lump sum payment to Bailey and $20,000 for her attorney’s fees and costs.

The agency’s elected leader, Putnam, announced his bid for governor six months after the settlement was reached.

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article214933360.html

Texas' fetal remains burial law shames women, abortion providers argue in trial

AUSTIN — For 45 minutes on Monday, Blake Howard Norton shared her miscarriage experience in a federal courthouse.

The trial over Texas' fetal remains burial law started Monday. Attorneys representing abortion providers who sued the state health department attempted to lay a foundation showing that the law, which requires fetal tissue from abortions and miscarriages to be buried or cremated, adds undue burden on women seeking abortion and clinics who provide them.

Norton, a licensed therapist and daughter of Austin Rep. Donna Howard, gave her testimony about a miscarriage she had in 2015. She was 11 weeks pregnant when a regularly scheduled ultrasound showed the fetus had no heartbeat, she said.

Her doctor recommended getting an abortion procedure as soon as possible to remove pregnancy tissue instead of waiting for her body to pass it naturally. Norton scheduled one at Seton Medical Center, a Catholic hospital in Austin. Right before she went into surgery, a nurse handed her a form to sign that outlined the options for fetal tissue disposal — burial by Seton, or private burial. She ultimately signed the form to get the procedure done.

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/07/16/texas-fetal-remains-burial-law-shames-women-abortion-providers-argue-trial

'Asian Nazi' asks judge to reprimand his Dallas defense attorney for 'political motive'

Dallas defense attorney Mick Mickelsen "is acting more like a prosecutor than a zealous advocate" for his client, according to a handwritten note a Gregg County jail inmate sent a judge.

Heon Yoo, from Tyler, is being held on federal firearms violations charges. Self-styled as the "Asian Nazi" on social media, he gained notoriety for creating videos such as "Sieg Heil Taylor Swift!" and speaking about his white supremacist views on University of North Texas and University of Texas at Tyler campuses.

"I believe at this point he has a political motive to get me convicted, since he actually told me 'You have poor judgement. Trump hates you because you are an immigrant,'" Yoo wrote.

Mickelsen declined to comment on the case, but he noted Yoo "has an interesting personality."

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/07/16/asian-nazi-accuses-dallas-defense-attorney-political-motive-get-convicted
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