Peter Hirschfeld

Reporter

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.

Ways to Connect

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.

House lawmakers approved an amendment Thursday that would give some school districts an extra year to comply with a district consolidation mandate.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

House lawmakers have decided that some Vermont school districts need more time to comply with a merger mandate, but they’ve left a fast-approaching deadline in place for others.

Brittany Lovejoy, of Montgomery, wears a black veil at a public hearing in Montpelier Wednesday, where she urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would create a "fundamental right" to abortion in Vermont.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

It’s been more than 45 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, but as Vermont House lawmakers learned at a public hearing Wednesday evening, the debate over abortion rights is as intense as it’s ever been.

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

House lawmakers appear poised to grant a yearlong reprieve to about half of the Vermont school districts that face a fast-approaching deadline for complying with a controversial school governance mandate.

Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux swears in a room full of deputies.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A shortage of mental health treatment beds in Vermont has forced hospital emergency rooms to provide unprecedented levels of psychiatric care in recent years. Many of those ERs have used sheriff’s deputies to supervise violent or disruptive patients, but officials now say that practice runs afoul of federal regulations.

Portions of Main Street were submerged Saturday morning after a water main break sent water cascading into downtown Montpelier.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A water main break in downtown Montpelier turned portions of Main Street into an icy river Saturday morning.

Gov. Phil Scott has proposed closing the Salisbury Fish Culture Station, seen here, to save money in next year's budget. But angling industry experts say the closure could severely reduce the number of fish available for stocking.
Department of Fish & Wildlife, courtesy

Vermont's angling community is fighting a proposal to close one of the Department of Fish & Wildlife's five fish hatcheries.

Stowe is one of about 30 school districts in Vermont challenging a state law that requires them to merge with other districts. House lawmakers will vote next week on whether to delay that merger mandate, to give the court case time to resolve.
Ian Noyes / VPR file

The Vermont House of Representatives will vote next week on postponing implementation of a controversial school governance law.

Will Lambek, Jose Luis Cordova Herrera, and woman who identified herself as Olga, from left, testified in the Legisalture last week. They say migrant farmworkers fear that local police will out them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

Civil rights groups say Vermont isn’t doing enough to prevent local police agencies from helping federal authorities identify and detain immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Gov. Phil Scott stands at a podium in the Vermont House chamber at the Statehouse delivering his budget address.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott used his budget address Thursday to call for the first proposed tax increases of his tenure, but simultaneously backed a plan to dramatically lower the estate tax paid by wealthy Vermonters.

Northern Vermont University President Elaine Collins, seen here on the Johnson campus, says state colleges need more state funding in order to lower tuition rates and increase support services for students.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Elected officials will need to nearly double the state’s contribution to higher education if they want to ensure Vermont students have access to an affordable college education, according to the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System.

A view of the US Capitol dome as seen through a window from the Russell Senate building.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Vermont’s Republican governor and Democratically controlled Legislature have managed to do what elected officials in Washington, D.C., so far have not: provide financial relief to the federal workers forced to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers such as Putney Rep. Michael Mrowicki, at the podium, are pushing for legislation that would give school districts more time to comply with a law that requires many districts to merge. About 30 districts are challenging the merger law in court.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A tri-partisan group of lawmakers want to postpone a legal deadline that will otherwise force Vermont school districts into involuntary mergers by July 1.

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.

A group of Vermonters, including Justin Sinkevich, at right holding a sign, rallied in Montpelier last week in opposition to a carbon tax. While some lawmakers favor the concept, leadership in the House and Senate are resistant to the idea..
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A growing number of climate advocates say increasing the price of fossil fuels is the surest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but leaders in the House and Senate are resisting calls for a carbon tax in Vermont.

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

The 2019 legislative session will inevitably include partisan fights and scathing floor debates, but on opening day at least, a spirit of unity prevailed in Montpelier.

A dusting of snow on top of the golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Here's a look at what issues are likely to come up for discussion in the Vermont Legislature during the coming months.

Lawmakers this year will take up many of the same issues they debated in 2018, including paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage, and whether or not to tax and regulate cannabis.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

State revenues may be outpacing expectations this year, but the leaders of the House and Senate say growing demand for services could complicate the budget process during the 2019 legislative session.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe have competing views on the wisdom of moving to a tax-and-regulate model for cannabis sales in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said lawmakers in his chamber will fast-track legislation that would create a retail market for cannabis sales in Vermont, but House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said she isn’t convinced Vermonters are ready for a tax-and-regulate system.

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