GMO bill splits local legislators by party

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Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle May 21, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

Orleans County farmers and consumers won’t be immediately affected by Vermont’s first-in-the-nation passage of legislation requiring labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation allows two years for the rulemaking process, and potential challenges are brewing in the courts and in Congress in the meantime.

“I’m really proud of Vermont as a state,” said Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, a leader in the organic farming movement. He said he has always thought those who like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ought to be happy to include them on their labels.

“Well, if it’s that safe, label it and be proud of it,” he said.

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Starr, Rodgers, Johnson prevail in Primary election

by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle 8-29-2012

State Senate candidates Bob Starr and John Rodgers and Representative Bill Johnson came out on top in local Primary elections Tuesday.

Mr. Starr and Mr. Rodgers survived a three-way contest for two nominations on the Democratic ballot with James Guyette of Derby Line.  Mr. Starr, of North Troy, is the one incumbent.  Mr. Rodgers of Glover has served in the House but not in the Senate before.

Mr. Johnson of Canaan, the incumbent, defeated challenger Maurice Connary of Brighton to claim the single Republican nomination in his Essex-Caledonia-Orleans District.  There were no Democratic or Progressive candidates on the ballot in the district.

Voter turnout for Orleans and parts of Essex counties was extremely low, about 9 to 10 percent.

Every vote counted.  In fact, in Bloomfield, Mr. Johnson got one vote, and his opponent had none.

With all towns in the Essex-Caledonia-Orleans district reporting except Lemington, the votes were 72 for Mr. Johnson and 25 for Mr. Connary.

“I’ve always thought it’s been an honor to serve my constituents,” said Mr. Johnson.  He has recently retired from dairy farming and has served in the House for 17 years.

He said he looks forward to going back to the Legislature, especially if he is reappointed to the Ways and Means Committee which handles taxes.

“One of the things that the Legislature has got to figure out is how to pay for the new health care,” he said.

“It’s going to take all of the resources that we can muster,” he said, mentioning that health care is one-fifth of Vermont’s total economy.  “It will probably be a payroll tax.”

Mr. Johnson said he had been afraid voter turnout would be very low.  In his home town of Canaan, he and his wife voted two hours after the polls had opened and were the first to vote.

The state Senate

 Not all the towns reported in as of press time Tuesday evening, but with all but a handful of results, it seemed clear that Mr. Starr and Mr. Rodgers would prevail.  Mr. Starr, who has 33 years of experience serving the voters in Montpelier, was top vote-getter with 947, and Mr. Rodgers had 816 to Mr. Guyette’s 476.

“If I win I’d just like to thank my supporters,” said Mr. Rodgers.  He said he looks forward to debates and forums and any chance he can get to get out there and make sure the voters know who he is.

Mr. Starr and Mr. Rodgers, the Democrats, will square off against Republicans Bob Lewis of Derby, who stepped down a representative for Orleans-1 in order to run for Senate, and Jay Dudley of Barton.

In the tightest statewide race of the day, at press time with 95 percent of precincts reporting, the incumbent attorney general, William Sorrell, was ahead with 20,614 votes compared to 20,000 votes for his challenger, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan, according to WCAX’s website.

In Orleans County and nine Essex County towns, Mr. Sorrell had 612 votes and Mr. Donovan had 523.

contact Bethany M. Dunbar at:  bethany@bartonchronicle.com

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