July 2, 2013

New England Dispatches

From news service reports

BOSTON

Lawmakers OK fund to help blast victims who lost limbs

Massachusetts lawmakers have agreed to create a $200,000 fund to help seriously injured victims of the Boston Marathon bombing move to new homes or modify their existing ones.

The measure, included in a supplemental appropriations bill approved Monday by the House and Senate, would provide grants to bombing victims who lost limbs in the April 15 attack.

The grants would help them pay for changes to their homes or to move to a new home if necessary.

The money would be in addition to payments from the One Fund, the primary compensation fund for bombing victims.

The bill also authorizes the state retirement board to issue a killed-in-the-line-of-duty death benefit to the family of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who authorities said was fatally shot by the Marathon bombing suspects.

 

House and Senate approve compromise spending plan

State lawmakers have approved a $34 billion state budget that includes additional state aid for cities and towns and enough funding for the University of Massachusetts to avoid a tuition increase.

The House voted 123-29 and the Senate 36-3 on Monday to accept the compromise spending plan worked out by a six-member conference committee over several weeks.

The budget is for the new fiscal year that started on Monday, but the state will continue to operate under a stopgap budget until Gov. Deval Patrick reviews the spending plan.

 

Cape Wind signs agreement with construction company

The Cape Wind has signed a $15 million deal with a Falmouth company to do the upland construction work needed to bury the offshore project's electric cables.

Cape Wind announced Monday that Lawrence-Lynch Corp. also will build a conduit between Cape Wind's buried land cables and its submerged ocean cables.

The $2.6 billion Cape Wind project aims to be the nation's first offshore wind farm. The 131-turbine project was proposed in 2001, but has been delayed by lengthy review and opponents who say it will ruin the sound and that its power is overpriced.

The project aims to start construction by the year's end and produce power by 2015.

MONTPELIER, Vt.

Governor repays $54 million to U.S. Department of Labor

Three years after Vermont cut benefits to unemployed workers and began borrowing from the federal government to shore up its unemployment trust fund, Gov. Peter Shumlin hit the send button Monday to pay the borrowed money back two years early.

Vermont businesses will begin feeling the benefit in January, when their unemployment insurance tax will be reduced $21 per employee. They'll also avoid an increase in that tax, thanks to the state paying back $54 million to the U.S. Department of Labor, Shumlin said.

The tax savings to employers will total about $54 million a year, said Dennis LaBounty, political director of the Vermont AFL-CIO labor federation. LaBounty expressed disappointment that some of the savings were not being used to restore benefit cuts seen by workers.

CONCORD, N.H.

Tourism officials expecting 1% rise in summer visitors

New Hampshire tourism officials are expecting about 13.6 million out-of-state visitors this summer who will spend about $1.9 billion.

The Institute for New Hampshire Studies said that represents about a 1 percent increase in population and 2 percent increase in spending from last year.

The state Division of Travel and Tourism Development said summer accounts for 40 percent of visitation and spending to New Hampshire. Most of the visitors will be from New England, the Middle Atlantic and eastern Canada.

Lori Harnois, director of the division, said 860,000 visitors are expected for July Fourth weekend.

 

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