Peter Hirschfeld


Peter Hirschfeld covers state government and the Vermont Legislature. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse.

Hirschfeld is a leading Vermont journalist who has covered the Statehouse since 2009, most recently as bureau chief for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. He began his career in 2003, working as a local sports reporter and copy editor at the Times Argus.

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The interior of the VPR talk studio with a microphone, chair and VPR logo on the wall.
Meg Malone / VPR

Republican Gov. Phil Scott and lawmakers in the Vermont House want to pour more than $10 million into Vermont's childcare system, to address issues of affordability and availability. However, leaders in the Senate say they aren’t ready to commit to the funding plan.

Barre mother Nina Lemieux sits with her three kids, Billie, Brightlynn and Boston (from left). Shortly after Lemieux's daycare provider shut down unexpectedly in 2017, Lemieux lost her job, her savings and her apartment.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

House lawmakers last month approved a substantial increase in funding for childcare services, but leaders in the Senate say they aren’t ready to commit to the proposal.

An empty classroom with desks and a chalkboard.
maroke / iStock

In a partial ruling Friday in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of forced school district mergers, Franklin County Judge Robert Mello has dismissed several complaints lodged by the more than 30 school districts that filed the suit.

Gov. Phil Scott, at the podium, joined elected officials from Bennington Wednesday to announce a financial settlement with the company linked to PFOA contamination in the Bennington area.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The state has reached a settlement with the owners of a manufacturing facility that may be linked to the contamination of hundreds of private drinking wells in the Bennington area.

The exterior of the Vermont Statehouse
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

House lawmakers Thursday advanced legislation that would create a statewide paid family and medical leave program in Vermont, but the bill faces some of the same political hurdles that derailed a similar proposal last year.

Marine veteran Jason Mosel, left, and Valerie Pallotta, at Snap Fitness in Berlin. Mosel used his world record attempt for most burpees in a 12-hour period  to raise money for a suicide prevention fund named in Pallotta's son's honor.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Last Friday evening, at a gym in central Vermont, Marine veteran Jason Mosel began his quest to break the world record for the most burpees in a 12-hour period.

House lawmakers Wednesday approved a doubling of the tax on heating fuels Wednesday to raise revenue for a low-income weatherization program.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

The Vermont House of Representatives has approved legislation that would boost funding for home weatherization programs. But opponents of the bill say the tax on heating fuel used to pay for it will drive up the cost of living for the people who can least afford it.

Sen. Patrick Leahy talks to reporters at Burlington International Airport Sunday. Leahy says he wants Robert Mueller's report into alleged Russiona interference in the 2016 election to be released in its entirety to Congress and the public.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Attorney General William Barr may have unveiled top-level findings from Robert Mueller’s report into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but Sen. Patrick Leahy says he won’t be satisfied until the special counsel’s full report is released to the public.

A picture of narcotics seized by police. Some Vermont lawmakers want to decriminalize possession of buprenorphine, an opioid that's often used to treat substance use disorder.
AP/Toby Talbot

The House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation decriminalizing possession of buprenorphine. But some law enforcement officials say non-prescribed use of the drug, which is used to treat opioid use disorder, should remain a crime.

Rodney Chayer, of Duxbury, at a public hearing regarding gun legislation at Vermont Technical College in Randolph, Vt.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

About 200 gun rights advocates traveled to Randolph Tuesday evening to weigh in on proposed gun legislation that they say violates their right to bear arms.

A sign outside a polling place in Burlington encouraged voters in Ward 6 to vote Tuesday. School budgets up for consideration on Town Meeting Day fared well, with all but three passing.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Town Meeting Day voters by and large approved local school budget proposals Tuesday, despite the fact that increases in education spending are outpacing what districts asked for last year.

State Board of Education Chair Krista Huling looks over a school district map during a meeting to review Act 46 mergers. A judge has denied a request from more than 30 school districts to temporarily halt the Act 46 merger process.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file


A Franklin County judge has dealt a setback to the dozens of Vermont school districts contesting an order that could force them into involuntarily mergers as early as this July.

Alyssa and Rob Black, whose 23-year-old son died by suicide in December, asked lawmakers Thursday to create a waiting period for gun purchases in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The parents of a 23-year-old man who committed suicide last December are asking lawmakers to create a waiting period for gun purchases in Vermont.

At the opening of an affordable housing development in Milton in 2017, Gov. Phil Scott said investments in affordable housing are important for Vermont's economy. Lawmakers this year are considering another major bond to spur housing development.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR file

Vermont lawmakers this year are considering another major affordable housing bond, but State Treasurer Beth Pearce said taking on more long-term debt now could compromise the state’s financial position.

Lawmakers elected Col. Greg Knight, of Huntington, to serve as the next adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The next leader of the Vermont National Guard said he plans to reform an organization that came under fire last year after a series of stories alleging sexual harassment and other misconduct.

Hundreds of Vermonters turned out for a public hearing earlier this month on an abortion-rights bill introduced in Montpelier. The Vermont House preliminarily approved the legislation by a vote of 104-40 Wednesday evening.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

An abortion-rights bill approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday evening wouldn’t change the legal status quo in Vermont, but the legislation nonetheless spurred a six-hour debate on the House floor.

Sen. Bernie Sanders stands outside a blue bus that says Bernie 2016 on the side of it.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press File

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary will be similar to 2016 in at least one regard: Bernie Sanders is running for the nomination. But political observers say the electoral landscape has changed dramatically since Sanders’ last presidential bid, and not necessarily in ways that favor his latest candidacy.

Four sixth-graders stand in a row looking at the camera
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A controversial exhibit at the Champlain Valley Fair has lawmakers contemplating new restrictions on “the display of individuals for money.”

A view from a boat on Lake Champlain, looking at a piece of tree-covered land jutting out.
Meg Malone / VPR File

Gov. Phil Scott’s long-term plan for clean water funding may have gotten a chilly reception in Montpelier, but the administration’s proposal has received a tentative stamp of approval from the federal agency overseeing Vermont’s pollution-reduction efforts.

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.