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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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.

Sen. Bernie Sanders takes the stage on the first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention before a crowd of people holding blue Bernie signs.
John Locher / Associated Press File

Sen. Bernie Sanders didn't win the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, but some of his supporters from two years ago are hoping he'll reboot his candidacy for the next presidential election.

With a conservative majority now in control of the U.S. Supreme Court, Vermont lawmakers will look to codify abortion rights in the state constitution.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

A proposal from Vermont lawmakers to add an abortion-rights amendment to the state constitution has advocates on both sides of the issue gearing up for an emotional debate over the future of reproductive rights in the state.

The number of children taken into state custody has increased over the past six years, and lawmakers are struggling to find ways to ensure their wellbeing.
Moussa81 / iStock

Lawmakers are looking for novel ways to relieve stress on a child welfare system that’s straining under the weight of Vermont’s opioid problem.

A bobcat is seen in this game camera photograph in Brandon in December 2017.
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, via Associated Press

A bobcat attack Wednesday in the Upper Valley sent two people to the hospital, but Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials say they were able to kill the animal.

Close-up photo of cannabis plant
Yarygin / iStock

Vermont State Police have disbanded a decades-old program that used military helicopters to spot illicit cannabis farms from on high.

Steffen Gillom, Sha'an Mouliert, Tabitha Pohl-Moore, Beverly Little Thunder and Wafic Faour, from left, are among the leaders of color asking Bernie Sanders to do a better job bringing social justice advocates from Vermont into his "progressive movement."
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Sen. Bernie Sanders has in many ways become the figurehead of the national progressive movement, but leaders of color in Vermont say his spotty track record on racial justice issues could undermine his status as its leader.

Now, those same advocates are trying to lay the groundwork for what they hope will be a more collaborative relationship with Sanders in the future.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jane O'Meara Sanders at a podium in 2016 with Sanders' campaign website displayed.
John Locher / Associated Press

As Bernie Sanders seeks to broaden his national appeal among the black and Latino voters who would be critical to his success in a 2020 presidential campaign, the white senator from Vermont is struggling to improve a complicated relationship with racial justice leaders in his own backyard.

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

Hundreds of people flocked to the Statehouse Friday to see the goddess of agriculture reclaim her perch atop the golden dome.

A stock photo of prescription medicine bottles.
Oxford / iStock

State officials are looking to reduce prescription drug costs in Vermont’s Medicaid program by sidestepping the pharmacy “middlemen,” but they’re struggling so far to find a drug wholesaler that’s willing to sell directly to the state.

Gail Wolf stands next to Flora Palm at Palm's house in St. Albans.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The nonprofit agencies that provide home-based health care to thousands of residents across Vermont are bracing for a hit to the federal funds that account for the majority of their operating revenue.

Protesters represent two sides of the debate in front a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Matt Rourke / AP

The national debate over abortion rights will land in Vermont next year, when Senate Democrats plan to pursue either legislation or a constitutional amendment that would codify at the state level a legal right to abortion.

Former state senator Norm McAllister, seen here outside a courthouse, was convicted in 2017 of prostituting a female tenant on his farm. The Vermont Supreme Court Friday ordered a retrial in the case.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR file

A former state senator convicted in 2017 of selling sex with a tenant on his Franklin County farm has been granted a retrial by the Vermont Supreme Court.

The Statehouse without its Ceres statute on a gray day in November with snow on the ground.
Meg Malone / VPR

It’s been more than a decade since Republicans controlled either chamber of the Vermont Legislature, but the results from last week’s elections will push House and Senate Republicans even further to the margins in Montpelier.

Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a podium at the GOP Election Night headquarters with a VT GOP banner behind him.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Gov. Phil Scott may have cruised to re-election Tuesday, but he’ll return to the governor’s office with diminished power over state government.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott won his re-election bid in Vermont's gubernatorial race.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

The "blue wave" that Democrats had been hoping for nationally on Tuesday crashed over Vermont a long time ago, but one Vermont Republican has somehow maintained his foothold in this otherwise left-leaning state.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist and Republican incumbent governor Phil Scott say they have very different leadership styles in approaching the top issues facing the state.
From left: Matthew Smith / VPR ; Henry Epp / VPR

The outcome of the 2018 race for Vermont's governor could have a profound effect on government policy for years to come.

State Treasurer Beth Pearce.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The state of Vermont’s sterling reputation on Wall Street took a modest hit Tuesday when Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the state’s general obligation bond rating.

An image of the Vermont state flag.
btgbtg /

Gov. Phil Scott and the rest of Vermont’s incumbent statewide officeholders appear to be on a safe track toward re-election, according to the results of a new poll commissioned by VPR and Vermont PBS.

Rep. Janssen Willhoit (right) is challenging TJ Donovan for the office of Vermont's attorney general.
Rep. Brian Keefe (right) and Peter Hirschfeld (left) / Willhoit Campaign (right) and VPR (left)

Republican State Rep. Janssen Willhoit is challenging incumbent Democrat TJ Donovan for the position of Vermont attorney general. Donovan and Willhoit joined Vermont Edition for a live debate - part of our series of candidate debates in the run-up to November election.