Bob Kinzel

Host, Reporter

Bob is a veteran Vermont journalist, specializing in political reporting. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse. Prior to joining VPR full time in 2002, Bob ran the Vermont News Service for 21 years. The service provided daily local news for eleven stations, including VPR. Bob started the News Service following a stint as news director for WNCS.

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The Vermont Constitution may be amended to clarify its ban on slavery.
Wikimedia Commons

It's often repeated that Vermont's was the first state constitution to outlaw slavery, but the language of the document may actually have some caveats. Sponsors of a constitutional amendment want to change the language to make the ban absolute. We're talking about the history and the proposal.

Looking into the empty interior of the Vermont Senate chamber. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling and green curtains adorn the windows.
Oliver Parini / For VPR, File

The Vermont Senate has given its final approval to legislation that would impact how voters in Chittenden County are represented in that chamber.

Testimony is heard on the House floor.
Toby Talbot / AP

This week House lawmakers gave an extension to some—but not all—school districts that have yet to merge under Act 46, giving some districts as much as an additional year to comply with the state's school district merger mandate.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos discusses cybersecurity and priorities in the new legislative session on "Vermont Edition."
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Washington, D.C. We're talking with Sec. Condos about what he learned at the NASS meeting about voting security and cyber threats facing states today, and discussing constitutional amendments in the legislature.

A piggy bank straddling the line of two different color backgrounds.
HighLaZ / iStock

Key lawmakers are questioning Gov. Phil Scott's plan to finance a $7-million increase in child care funds, saying the proposal is akin to "raiding" the state's education fund.

Talk of changing the gubernatorial term of office from two to four years has surfaced again in Montpelier. We'll hear the pros and cons of making a change from former Vermont Governors Madeleine Kunin and Howard Dean.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

Back in 1870, Vermont made a bold move. It doubled the length of the gubernatorial term of office from one year to two. Is it time to double it again? And what would be the repercussions for the length of terms in the State House and Senate?

Looking into the empty interior of the Vermont Senate chamber. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling and green curtains adorn the windows.
Oliver Parini / For VPR, File

How are amendments made to the Vermont Constitution? And how many amendments have there been over the years? VPR's senior political reporter Bob Kinzel provides historical context around this process and a look at what amendments are proposed for this year.

Marijuana plants.
gaspr13 / iStock

The Senate Judiciary Committee is quickly moving ahead with a tax-and-regulate marijuana bill, but the plan could face an uncertain future with the Scott administration because it doesn't include the driver impairment measures that the governor says must be part of the bill.

Gov. Phil Scott stands with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson behind him on the day of the budget address.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

In his budget address, Gov. Phil Scott outlined his key spending initiatives for the coming year. This includes a proposal to finance a long-term plan to clean up Lake Champlain - and the state's other major lakes and streams - with existing revenues. We're taking a closer look at the Governor's budget priorities.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

Rep. Pattie McCoy sits in the Vermont House chamber, looking ahead with hands folded.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Since the Civil War, there has never been a time when the Republican Party in Vermont has had so few members in both the House and the Senate. GOP leaders say this current situation has a profound impact on the role of the Republican caucuses at the Statehouse.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins us to talk about her legislative agenda.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

One of the goals of House Speaker Mitzi Johnson is to create economic development programs that can revitalize rural parts of Vermont. We're talking with Speaker Johnson about her priorities for the coming legislative session.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott at a podium with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, flanked by signs that laid out their paid family leave proposal.
Robert Garrova / NHPR

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu have announced plans to create a bi-state voluntary paid family leave program. Scott said the proposal will help attract new workers to both states without the need to implement a state-mandated program.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, standing and speaking to people gathered.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Senate leaders say they hope to quickly pass a bill that would create a retail marijuana market that the state would tax and regulate.

Gov. Phil Scott called for a bi-partisan approach to dealing with the state's key issues during his inaugural address on Jan. 10, 2019
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

During his inaugural address Thursday afternoon, Gov. Phil Scott urged lawmakers to support bipartisan solutions to many of the challenges facing the state of Vermont. Scott said the state's experience needs to stand in contrast to "a national political environment that's brought out the worst in the public process."

Gov. Phil Scott shares coffee with his legislative colleagues at the opening of the 2019 Vermont Legislature.
Matthew Smith / VPR

In his second inaugural address, Gov. Phil Scott outlined his priorities for dealing with the major challenges facing Vermont. We're talking with Gov. Scott about his agenda and what it means for the Vermont economy, property taxes, education spending and more.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks a a podium that says Come Together, Fight Back on it, in front of a purple background.
Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press File

In late May 2015, standing at the lakefront in Burlington, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders formally announced that he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination. But should Sanders pursue another presidential run during the 2020 campaign, it's likely to look different from that first bid.

The makeup of Congress is vastly different as Rep. Peter Welch returns to Washington.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR FILE

The new Congress opened facing the partial shutdown of the federal government. As he returns to Washington for his seventh term, Rep. Peter Welch joins us to discuss his thoughts on the efforts to resolve the impasse.

Looking outward and upward at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. There are statues but really no people, as a partial shutdown is in effect.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

The partial federal government shutdown continues — and it looks like the shutdown will last into the new year.

The Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission is ready to share its findings and recommendations on new pot laws in Vermont.
Labuda / iStock

Even though it's now legal to possess, consume and grow small amounts of marijuana in Vermont, that doesn't mean we've seen the end of pot legislation. The Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission has been evaluating what has happened in other states and listening to Vermonters' thoughts on the future of pot laws. We'll hear the results from the co-chairs of the commission.

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