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Senators reach bipartisan deal on national GMO labeling law


MONTPELIER — A bipartisan deal has been reached by two key members of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on a national GMO labeling law that would nullify Vermont’s labeling law set to take effect on July 1. The compromise bill was announced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, and its chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. The legislation would create the first mandatory, nationwide label for food products containing genetically modified organisms that are commonly referred to as GMOs. “This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement. Continue Reading →

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Senate bill to legalize marijuana is unveiled


MONTPELIER — Legislation to be introduced next month when lawmakers return to the State House would allow those 21 and over to grow and possess marijuana as early as July 2016. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Jeanette White, D-Windham, and Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, would allow for the retail sale of pot and permitted lounges, in 2017. White crafted the bill following a series of hearings by the Senate Government Operations Committee this fall. The committee could not reach consensus on a bill, she said. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers mull how, not if, to legalize marijuana

Sen. Jeanette White

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers are taking up a central question surrounding marijuana legalization, and that is not whether to legalize, but how to do it. The Senate Government Operations Committee took testimony Tuesday from a very one-sided selection of members of the public who touched on questions surrounding licensing, distribution and retail sales, but not if cannabis should be legalized in the first place. During the last legislative session, the committee spent its Friday afternoons combing through a 150-page study from the Rand Corp. — commissioned by the state and released in January — that looked at legalization, from the number of users in the state to potential revenue and the impact on tourism. Committee Chairwoman Jeanette White, D-Windham, acknowledged from the start of Tuesday’s hearings that the question of whether marijuana should be legalized will not rest with her committee, but with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Continue Reading →

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Sorrell outlines state’s GMO case for lawmakers

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell told the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday that he expects a judge to rule on dueling motions in the GMO labeling case within the next three months, which will help lay out a path for the rest of the case. A host of food industry groups filed suit last year against the state’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, 2016, claiming it is unconstitutional. Sorrell briefed the committee Wednesday on the status of the case. The plaintiffs have asked the judge for a summary judgment, claiming the state is restricting their free speech rights by forcing them to label products that contain GMOs. They also claim the state cannot prevent them from calling a product natural if it contains GMOs. Continue Reading →

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Vermont calls more GMO hearings, extends comment deadline

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Attorney General’s office is calling a second public hearing on the state’s rules to implement the ban on genetically modified organisms.

In addition to the second hearing scheduled for Feb. 4 at the Vermont Statehouse, the state has extended by two weeks the deadline for submitting written comments on the proposed rules. The new deadline for written comments is Feb. 12. Continue Reading →

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