The Leahy Letter -- November 19, 2010

Organic Trade Group Moves Headquarters To Vermont

This fall Senator Leahy joined more than 30 community and business leaders to welcome the Organic Trade Association to Brattleboro, where the group is moving its headquarters. The OTA's move brings more than 20 jobs to Vermont and underscores Vermont's role as a national leader in organic agriculture and local food systems. The OTA is the business association for organic agriculture and other products and members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers, retailers and many others. The move coincides with the 20th anniversary of the National Organic Standards Act, written by Senator Leahy, which created the national organic standards and labeling program.

Attorney General Eric Holder Visits Vermont, Addresses Symposium On Opiate Drug Abuse

PJL Holder Opiate Conference

On September 10, Senator Leahy participated in a symposium in the Statehouse in Montpelier tackling the problem of opiate drug abuse. The session was hosted by Vermont's U.S. Attorney Tristram J. Coffin, and attended by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. A packed House chamber listened on as the first panel, parents of children who fell victim to drug addiction, shared their stories. One father, Skip Gates, explained the impact to his family of the devastating loss of his son, Will, a skier at UVM, to a heroin overdose. The clear message from the parents is that no one is immune -- once a child's drug addiction took hold, he or she became almost unrecognizable, their families were forever changed, and their communities suffered as well.

The goal of the conference was to refocus community efforts across the state to prevent and treat drug addiction, and to take full stock of the individuals, families, and communities. These goals have been echoed in three Senate Judiciary Committee field hearings that Senator Leahy has held in Rutland, Barre, and St. Albans to identify the best way to counter drug abuse and drug violence in rural America.

Vermont Boys & Girls Clubs Receive $1 Million In Federal Funding

Senator Leahy at the Rutland BGCA

On October 13, Senator Leahy announced that Vermont's Boys and Girls Clubs have been awarded more than $1 million by the U.S. Department of Justice to help fund activities and programs administered by the Clubs. He announced the funding for Vermont's Clubs while visiting the Rutland Boys & Girls Club -- which earlier this year also received a merit award for best overall programming among Boys & Girls Clubs across the country with budgets under $500,000.

Senator Leahy has been a longtime champion of efforts to strengthen and expand Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, especially in rural areas like Vermont. He is the author of the bipartisan Boys & Girls Clubs Centennial Reauthorization Act, which will authorize appropriations for the Boys & Girls Clubs through 2015.

The Clubs are represented in all 50 states and reach millions of young people each year, providing after-school, evening, weekend and summer programs.

New Headquarters in Vermont for National PTSD Center Reflects Support of Veterans Suffering Invisible Wounds of War

PTSD Center Ribbon Cutting

To Senator Leahy, the new headquarters building for the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) says much about the four-decade evolution of PTSD from being a little-known disorder to being understood and treated as a front-burner veterans medical issue. He made that observation on October 12 while taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility, which is housed on the campus of the VA Medical Center at White River Junction. Senator Bernie Sanders, who worked closely with the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to bolster the budget for the facility, also participated in the ceremony.

"I can't say enough about the work done by the men and women of the National Center for PTSD," Senator Leahy said. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy has sponsored investments in the Center to address PTSD cases among troops returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We used to think of PTSD as something faced only by Vietnam veterans. So many of our troops coming home today also suffer from PTSD. It is more important than ever for us to look after those who have done and given so much for their fellow citizens and who now suffer from the invisible wounds of war."

Senator Leahy and the University of Vermont Announce $3 Million Project Linking Campuses To Broadband Network

Senator Leahy joined representatives of the University of Vermont on October 28 to announce $3 million in new federal funding for the development of a high-speed fiber optic network. The funding, which is jointly administered by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and is used by the North East Cyberinfrastructure Consortium, will allow UVM to connect with other research institutions across the region and also to research centers across the nation and around the world. Among the first projects that will benefit directly from this powerful resource is a large-scale study of algal blooms in Lake Champlain and other lakes. The data shared by researchers at several universities will provide greater understanding of the blooms and may help to prevent the formation of toxic algal blooms in the future.

Senator Leahy was instrumental in securing the funding , which supplements the $171 million already coming to Vermont for broadband development under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Meaning of 'Lame Duck'

On Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" today, a caller asked Senator Leahy where the term "lame duck" originated, as in the "lame duck" congressional session now underway. Here's the answer: according to the Library of Congress, the expression "lame duck" was originally applied in 18th Century Britain to bankrupt businessmen, who were considered as "lame" in the sense that the impairment of their powers rendered them vulnerable. By the 1830s, the usage had been extended to officeholders whose service already had a known termination date.

Members of Congress in similar circumstances are also considered "lame ducks." The expression may be applied to members who are known not to be seeking re-election, as well as to those who have been defeated. In particular, however, after an election of Congress, all the members who did not gain reelection can be described as lame ducks until the term of the new Congress starts.

News You Can Use: Does the Government Owe You Money?

The Internal Revenue Service is looking for 138 Vermont taxpayers whose refund checks were returned due to mailing address errors. Altogether, these refunds totaled $84,172.

If you have not received your refund, check the status at Where's My Refund, visit the IRS website for more information, or call Senator Leahy's IRS caseworker at 802-863-2525.

The Vermont State Treasurer's Office also recently published its annual listing of Vermonters who have unclaimed money held by the State. The publication appeard in Vermont daily newspapers November 8-13. You can also search the online database for a complete listing of all claimable properties. This is a FREE service.

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David Carle: 202-224-3693