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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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. 

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan speaking during the 2016 election. Donovan is seeking a second two-year term in the Nov. 6 election.
Oliver Parini / VPR file

TJ Donovan is the incumbent Democrat in the Nov. 6 election, seeking a second two-year term as Vermont's attorney general. Vermont Edition spoke with the candidate to hear what he'd aim to accomplish in a second term.

Rep. Janssen Willhoit on the floor of the Vermont Capitol. Willhoit is the Republican candidate for attorney general in the Nov. 6 election.
Rep. Brian Keefe / courtesy Willhoit campaign

Janssen Willhoit is a Republican representing St. Johnsbury in Vermont's Legislature. He's also an attorney, a graduate of Vermont Law School and the Republican candidate for attorney general.

From left, Sen. Richard Westman, Sen. Tim Ashe and Savi Van Sluytman, executive director of Lamoille County Mental Health Services, at a meeting in Morrisville Monday. Employees at the agency say they don't have enough funding to meet demand.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The workers on the frontlines of Vermont’s mental health system say they’re struggling to meet increased demand for their services.

Commissioner of Buildings and General Services Chris Cole stands in a wing of the Statehouse that's been overtaken by mold. Cole says it'll cost an estimated $500,000 to clean up the committee rooms before lawmakers return in January.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A mold infestation in the Vermont Statehouse has rendered 14 legislative committee rooms temporarily unfit for human occupancy.

Don Turner and David Zuckerman are the two major-party candidates for Vermont Lieutenant Governor.
photos by Angela Evancie and Ric Cengeri / VPR

We're kicking off the first of our general election debates, and partnering with Vermont PBS to air live on both radio and television. Joining us are the two major-party candidates for lieutenant governor: incumbent Progressive/Democrat David Zuckerman and his Republican challenger, House Minority Leader Don Turner Jr.

A state ethics commission says Gov. Phil SCott has a conflict of interest, due to his financial ties to a company that does business with the state. Scott says he rejects the commission's opinion.
Lisa Rathke / Associated Press File

The Vermont State Ethics Commission said this week that Gov. Phil Scott has a financial conflict of interest. The governor rejects the panel’s opinion, however, and says voters can decide next month whether he’s violated the state code of ethics.

The exterior of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on a blue-sky day.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

With only about a month until Election Day, candidates for statewide office are garnering most of the media attention in Vermont. However political action committees appear to be focusing most of their energy on local races for House and Senate.