- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - One item on the 2016 agenda for Vermont lawmakers is a package of stiffer penalties for those who assault or threaten state social workers.

The move follows the August shooting death of Lara Sobel, a social worker with the Department for Children and Families in Barre. Jody Herring of Barre has pleaded not guilty to charges that she fatally shot Sobel as well as three of Herring’s own relatives after her child had been taken into state custody.

Social workers would join police officers, health care workers and a handful of other professions protected by enhanced criminal penalties for assaults or threats against them.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to take up the bill in the early weeks of the 2016 session.

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