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The Vermont Legislature

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VPR reporter and Vermont Edition host Bob Kinzel has been covering the Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. To take advantage of his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series — Ask Bob. Check out past questions and submit your own here.

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Sen. Patrick Leahy | Sen. Bernie Sanders | Rep. Peter Welch | Congress

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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Dartmouth College.
Cheryl Senter / AP

Ten days ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders had a heart attack at a campaign event in Las Vegas. Doctors discovered Sanders had a blocked artery and inserted two stents to repair that blockage. But what does Sanders' health mean for the campaign, and the Democratic presidential primary? Vermont Edition talks with senior campaign advisor Jeff Weaver to get an update on the candidate and his campaign.

The stage for a July 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate.
Paul Sancya / AP

How will Sen. Bernie Sander's recent heart attack affect the 2020 Democratic presidential race? His campaign says there will be little impact, and he'll be back in action for the fourth Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Oct. 15. We're talking with reporters in Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa about how the dynamics of the race are shifting.

A two-photo collage with the cover of "Whistleblowers" on the left and a profile picture of Stanger on the right.
Book cover courtesy of Yale University Press / Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Whistleblowers are in the headlines right now, but speaking out about government impropriety is nothing new in American politics. In fact, protection for people who come forward is written into our earliest laws. We're talking with Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger about her new book on America's history with whistleblowers, and why, despite our laws, they often face retaliation.

Mitch Wertlieb talking with 'March authors' Andrew Aydin and Rep. John Lewis
Ryan Newswanger / Vermont Humanities Council, courtesy

The graphic novel March tells the story of the life of Democratic Rep. John Lewis, one of the key leaders of the civil rights movement. Lewis chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and he was one of the principal organizers of the 1963 March on Washington, as well as the march across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin spoke about the civil rights movement, past and present, at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts.
Vermont Humanities Council

Congressman John Lewis is the sole surviving member of the "Big Six" civil rights leaders of the 1960s. He's dedicated his life to nonviolent protests in pursuit of social justice. And along with co-author Andrew Aydin, Lewis wrote about his life and work in the graphic novel series March, a 2019 Vermont Reads selection. Today on Vermont Edition, we'll hear highlights from an event featuring Lewis and Aydin recorded live at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, Oct. 7.

Three people stand behind a podium with an ACLU banner on it.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union unveiled a legislative agenda Tuesday it says elected officials could use to cut the state’s prison population in half. Items on the agenda include the elimination of cash bail and the decriminalization of many drug crimes.

Rep. Peter Welch seated at a Capitol Hill committee meeting
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

A number of House committees this week are ramping up their investigation into possible impeachable activities by President Donald Trump. As one of the three members of the House to serve on both the Intelligence and Oversight committees, Vermont Rep. Peter Welch is involved in the impeachment inquiry.

Updated at 12:59 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a long-awaited set of cases testing whether the federal law that bars sex discrimination in employment applies to LGBTQ employees.

Specifically, the question is whether employers are free to fire employees because they are gay or transgender.

The Supreme Court may be eager to portray itself as an apolitical institution. But this term, political questions writ large are knocking at the high court door.

The upcoming term will almost surely be a march to the right on almost every issue that is a flashpoint in American society. Among them: abortion, guns, gay rights, the separation of church and state, immigration and presidential power.

Sen. Bernie Sanders on the stump.
Paul Sancya / Associated Press File

Sen. Bernie Sanders has been discharged from the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center after suffering a heart attack, according to a press release from his campaign.

Kolby LaMarche is pictured here with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Kolby LaMarche, courtesy

The new chair of the Burlington Republican Committee is Kolby LaMarche, a 17-year-old senior at Burlington High School. He's not old enough to vote currently, but can hold the position because he will be 18 by the time of the next general election.

The White House is seen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, as House Democrats move aggressively in their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Impeachment has been splashed across headlines and fodder for news stories across the country after House Democrats officially launched an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump late last month. But what actually happens when Congress impeaches a president?

Students holding blue Bernie signs outside
Cheryl Senter / Associated Press

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders "is up and about" following recent surgery, and plans to attend an upcoming Democratic presidential debate, the campaign announced Thursday afternoon.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

President Trump now says China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Trump brought up China, just days before restarting trade talks with Beijing, while answering questions about his call with his Ukrainian counterpart and what specifically he hoped Ukraine would do about the Biden family.

Congressman Peter Welch prepares for a floor speech.
Eman Mohammed / VPR

Congressman Peter Welch sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which is moving quickly with investigations into national security concerns raised by a whistleblower's complaint of President Trump's activities related to Ukraine and alleged solicitation of interference with the 2020 presidential election.

House Democrats are set to launch a new phase of their impeachment inquiry on Thursday when former Ambassador Kurt Volker, until recently a top State Department representative to Ukraine, is scheduled to meet with investigators.

Then, on Friday, the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, is due on the Hill.

More witnesses are expected next week, all for depositions behind closed doors with members of Congress and their staff.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is canceling presidential campaign events "until further" notice following a heart procedure, campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver said Wednesday morning.

Weaver said in a brief written statement that Sanders "experienced some chest discomfort" during a Tuesday evening campaign event.

Sen. Bernie Sanders holding a microphone
Cheryl Senter / Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has cancelled campaign events for the foreseeable future after receiving medical attention for chest discomfort Tuesday.

A dozen candidates have qualified for the fourth Democratic presidential debate. They will appear together on one night, making the October faceoff the most crowded yet.

The minimum age for buying tobacco products in New Hampshire is going up, but not as much as some advocates wanted.

After a bill to increase the purchase age from 18 to 21 stalled in the Senate, much of its language resurfaced in the state budget. But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the budget in June, and the compromise budget he signed this past week includes a provision to raise the age only to 19.