The Latest: Senate approves energy siting bill

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Latest on Vermont Legislature (all times local):

4 p.m.

The Vermont Senate has approved a renewable energy siting bill that calls on the House to make some changes to its version. A key difference between the two is that the Senate wants $300,000 to fund local and regional energy planning efforts.

The bill calls for greater say for regions and towns in where solar and wind energy projects are located, which town officials and some citizens' groups have complained they don't now have. The Senate added the funding to help the regions and towns step up their energy planning work.

Now it appears there may be another bump in the road for the bill. The Senate version calls for wind developers getting a state permit between last month and July 1, 2017 to live by rules on sound that are not expected to be developed by the later date.

2 p.m.

A bill calling for contraceptives and sterilizations, including vasectomies, to be covered under employer-sponsored health plans, is headed to Gov. Peter Shumlin's desk.

The Vermont House on Wednesday concurred with minor Senate changes on to a bill the House passed earlier. The bill bars those plans from charging copays and deductibles.

Concurrence with the Senate came on a voice vote without the debate that occurred when the measure first passed the House two months ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in March about whether religiously affiliated organizations should be exempt from the requirement that they include contraceptives coverage in their employee health insurance plans.

The next day, on March 24, the Vermont House defeated a narrower exemption. It would have applied just to houses of worship, and not to religiously affiliated schools and hospitals.

The bill has no religious exemption.

11 a.m.

The Vermont Senate is set to debate House changes to a bill aimed at giving towns more say in siting of renewable energy projects.

The House, meanwhile, is looking at Senate changes

With lawmakers expected to adjourn Friday or Saturday, the pace of action on bills is picking up.

Several already have fallen by the wayside this week, including one to more clearly define when a worker is an employee eligible for workers' compensation and other benefits and when he or she is an independent contractor.

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