Vermont Edition

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Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

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Your car's "check engine" light can mean anything from mechanical issues to emissions concerns. We're looking at the end of the state's "conditional pass" and what it means for car inspections going forward.
baloon111 / iStock

This month the Vermont DMV sent out a postcard alerting motorists to the end of "conditional passes" for cars failing emissions tests during inspection, along with a list of ways to get a vehicle "ready" for inspection.

For many, the postcard led to confusion rather than clarity. We're looking at what's changed for Vermont's vehicle inspections and what you need to know about getting your car ready for inspection.

Attorney General TJ Donovan announced the results of the investigation into the alleged racial harassment of former state Rep.  Kiah Morris on Januart 14, 2019.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has released findings on the alleged racial harassment of former state Rep. Kiah Morris, saying that Morris was a victim of harassment but there is not enough evidence to prosecute. We're talking with the attorney general about the investigation, his office's new bias incident reporting system and his other priorities in the coming year.

Good News Garage reports that vehicle donations are down markedly from the previous year.
Artem Marchenko / Flickr

Without a statewide mass transit system, the need for an automobile is more acute in Vermont than in many other areas of the country. Especially in our most rural towns. And for many people, affording a reliable vehicle can be out of reach. Good News Garage, a nonprofit that refurbishes donated vehicles and gives them to Vermonters in need, is reporting lower vehicle donations this winter. But not a lower need for cars.

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

Paid family leave, a $15 per hour minimum wage and a tax-and-regulate marijuana system are expected to be some of the key issues decided on in this session of the Legislature. Vermont Edition speaks with Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe on the prospect of these and other issues.

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.

Politico report on fresh allegations of sexual harassment within the the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Herb Swanson / VPR

The 2016 presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has faced accusations of "sexual violence and harassment" by staffers who worked on the campaign. Now new reporting from Politico identifies a senior campaign director who allegedly made inappropriate physical advances on a junior staffer in 2016.

The partial government shutdown has lasted since December 22. We're talking about the impact on Vermont.
Jose Luis Magana / AP

The partial shutdown of the federal government has now stretched to almost three weeks. We're looking at the impacts the shutdown is having on our state, from some federal employees going without pay to ripple effects on airports, farms and research. And we want to hear if you've been affected.

Photographer Matthew Thorsen's pictures have appeared in "Seven Days" for more than 20 years.
Diane Sullivan / courtesy Seven Days

For more than 20 years photographer Matthew Thorsen's pictures were a mainstay in Vermont’s weekly newspaper Seven Days, capturing the people, events and landscapes of the state and defining the paper’s visual style. He was well-known in Burlington's art and music scenes, as much for his quirky sense of style and shock of bleach blond hair as for his photographs.

Thorsen died on New Year's Day after a yearslong battle with cancer. He was 51. 

Monica Caffrey of Jay is a three-time national champion in professional indoor surfing.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

Vermont is not known for its great surfing. But the second-ranked pro indoor surfer in the world lives in landbound — and snowbound — Jay, and she's not even out of high school yet. She's 16-year-old Monica Caffrey.

The focus turns back to Montpelier as the Legislature convenes for a new biennium.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

When the gavel sounds, the new legislative session begins. Vermont Edition will be at the Statehouse as the 75th biennial session of the Vermont Legislature convenes, broadcasting live from the Cedar Creek Room.

Vermont's new chief information security officer, Nicholas Andersen, says the state faces evolving threats to cybersecurity and citizen data held by the state.
bgblue / iStock

The state of Vermont will spend millions of dollars on cybersecurity through 2019 to keep the data you share with the state—like at the DMV or when you do your taxes—protected from threats in cyberspace.

We're talking with Vermont's new chief information security officer, Nicholas Andersen, about what those threats are and how they're evolving. Andersen works in the state's Agency of Digital Services.

We're talking about a trending desire to get off social media, and what's involved in quitting.
strelss / iStock

As Facebook and other big social media networks increasingly treat user information as a commodity - and as these networks are having big impacts on the world stage - many users are looking to quit. Or at least, they're talking about it. We're looking at where the push to quit is coming from and what's involved in getting off these platforms, for good and for ill.

Rep. Peter Welch was sworn in to a seventh term on Thursday, Jan. 3.
Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Congressman Peter Welch was sworn in for his seventh term in Congress on Thursday. Welch returns to Washington amid a government in shutdown, a House of Representatives now controlled by his party, the Democrats, and a vote for a new Speaker of the House.

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.

Protesters carry signs at a Chicago rally against sexual assault and rape culture in 2015.
Bob Simpson / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Education is proposing new rules for how sexual assault and harassment is handled on college campuses. The changes could limit the types of complaints schools can investigate and potentially allow live hearings where victims could be cross-examined.

The department says it's to protect both accusers and the accused, but victim advocates fear the changes could discourage victims from reporting abuse.

Send us your thoughts on the past year in the form of a haiku!
Jay Parker / Flickr

We're starting off 2019 in poetic form. Send us a haiku about your 2018: events, moments, thoughts. Or write one about your hopes for the new year.

Gov. Scott's support of new gun legislation after events in Parkland, Florida and at Fair Haven Union High School was one of the top stories in Vermont this year.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR FILE

What a year in news in Vermont. Home-grown recreational marijuana became legal. Mid-term elections drew many more voters than expected, even in the August primary. Act 46 had many communities concerned. And now the Bernie 2020 guessing is in full swing. We'll talk to some of Vermont's top reporters about the state's big news stories from 2018.

Ann Braden's new book is "The Benefits of Being an Octopus."
courtesy Ann Braden

Brattleboro writer Ann Braden became known to many Vermonters when she started the advocacy group GunSenseVT in 2013. Meanwhile, Braden, a former teacher, was raising two small children and writing. And now her debut novel has been published to rave reviews.

Dr. David Toll in his office at 85 Main St. in St. Johnsbury, where he practiced medicine for decades until age 90.
Matthew Payeur / Empire Imaging, courtesy

Dr. David Toll was a physician who practiced medicine in St. Johnsbury for decades and connected with patients from across the Northeast Kingdom and northern New Hampshire. He saw patients from childhood into middle age and worked until he himself was 90. And over this weekend, he died. He was 93 years old.

The E.A.S.Y company makes sketchpads that allow blind students to draw and graph.
courtesy E.A.S.Y.

One barrier to entry for blind people into science and technology fields4 is the challenge they may face drawing, doing the drafting required for engineering, or even doing mathematics that require graphing. 

In 2011, with support from the National Federation of the Blind, a UVM student and two UVM engineering professors started a company that makes drawing tablets that create raised lines that blind people can touch. And - critically! - they also figured out a way to make an effective eraser.