Vermont Legislature

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People carrying a banner reading honor Black lives
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Legislation that arrived on Gov. Phil Scott’s desk last week would establish a new use-of-force standard for police agencies across Vermont, but public safety officials say the proposed statute would send law enforcement officers into murky legal waters and are urging the governor to veto the bill.

Logo for The Frequency podcast, from VPR.
Lara Dickson / For VPR

Property values determine taxes, but what happens when the town can’t go inside homes for appraisals? Plus, dealing with the state’s budget gap, merged school districts set to split, and Burlington plans to limit crowds in bars.

A man in a grey suit jacket and red tie on the House floor
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

This fiscal year, Vermont's revenue is expected to drop by $275 million  — that's the number the Legislature's economist Tom Kavet presented to Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders last week.

Phil Scott at a podium
Screenshot / ORCA media

Vermont plans to open a grant program next week to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A view inside the Vermont statehouse.
Toby Talbot / AP

State lawmakers have been working for weeks on plans to distribute several hundred million dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds across Vermont. The governor announced his plans last month, and says lawmakers are dragging their feet. This hour, we talk with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and House Appropriations Chair Kitty Toll about what their COVID-19 relief efforts are for small businesses and individuals.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Tim Ashe join "Vermont Edition" to discuss what was and wasn't accomplished in the recent legislative session.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR FILE

The legislative session will likely be extended into the summer, and there are still many things still waiting for the Vermont House and Senate to finish. On that list are the state budget, coronavirus relief bills and priorities from the pre-COVID-19 era. This hour, we talk with the Senate and House leaders about their plans moving forward.

Vermont State Colleges System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding standing before a computer
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding told the Senate Education Committee this week that the state college system is in a crisis situation due to COVID-19. And to rebound, the system may have to take drastic action that could include permanently closing campuses.

People spread out in the Vermont House chamber.
Mike Dougherty / VTDigger

The Vermont House passed legislation addressing the COVID-19 crisis Wednesday evening. While lawmakers had come up with a plan to pass the bills with just a few members present to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus, they were held up for several hours when Arlington Democrat Cynthia Browning called for a quorum —a majority of members — to vote on the bills.

A person standing in the middle of a room in front of a microphone.
John Dillon / VPR File

The Vermont House first had to overcome a procedural challenge before voting Wednesday on legislation designed to address the COVID-19 crisis.

A person elbow bumping another person.
Mike Dougherty / VTDigger

Lawmakers returned to Montpelier Tuesday to face a much different world than the one they left on March 13.

An aerial view of a table with a bowl of clementines and person seated nearby
Elodie Reed / VPR File

The Vermont Legislature reconvenes Tuesday in an emergency session to address the COVID-19 crisis. The agenda includes expanding unemployment benefits, helping health care providers, and changing public meeting laws to allow town officials to meet remotely during the crisis. 

But in their time away from Montpelier, the lawmakers, like many others around the country, have struggled to adjust to a new world of working remotely.

Front of Vermont Statehouse
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Lawmakers plan to return to the Vermont Statehouse next week to act quickly – and safely – on legislation designed to help the state recover from the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus.

Statehouse doors with signs stating it is closed.
John Dillon / VPR

The "People’s House" is closed. The Vermont Legislature adjourned last Friday until next Tuesday, and probably for longer.

But that doesn't mean legislative work has ground to a halt.

Gov. Phil Scott at a COVID-19 press briefing last month. The governor says Vermont businesses should sign up as soon as possible for the second round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency Friday evening in response to the coronavirus, restricting visitor access to longterm care facilities and prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people. But his executive order stopped short of closing Vermont's public schools, which will remain open for the time being.

A marijuana plant.
Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

Updated 4 p.m. Thursday

After voting 90 to 54 Wednesday to tax and regulate pot sales in Vermont, House members gave their final approval Thursday afternoon.

People sitting at round desks on a red-carpeted floor.
Elodie Reed / VPR File

Updated 3 p.m.

Vermont's minimum wage is set to rise over the next two years after the House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Phil Scott's veto.

A composite of four photos, each showing a downtown view.
VPR Staff

As lawmakers work to overhaul Act 250 — the state's main development review law — registered voters support easing environmental review for developments in Vermont's downtowns, according to a new VPR - Vermont PBS poll.

A person holds up a hand-drawn sign reading "Fake Legislative Process"
John Dillon / VPR

A key House committee Thursday approved a major overhaul of Act 250, Vermont’s development review law.

An empty day care classroom.
Kids' Work Chicago Daycare / Creative Commons

This month, Vermont child care provider Loveworks announced it will close its centers in Montpelier, Williston, and Milton.

In a letter to families, President Lisa Zengilowski said these locations "have proven too difficult to make financially sustainable" and will close on Friday, March 13.

Headshot of John Killacky.
Todd R. Lockwood, Courtesy

Leaving his multi-year post as executive director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington and moving into a new role as a citizen legislator serving the city of South Burlington had John Killacky feeling "humbled" — and a bit nervous.