Vermont Legislature

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Three images, two of zoom screens with many panels on either side of an image of the front of the Statehouse against a blue sky
Screenshot / YouTube, Doug Kerr / Flickr

Vermont lawmakers closed out what Senate President Becca Balint called “a session for the history books” Friday evening after passing a $7 billion state budget that includes moonshot investments in broadband, affordable housing, climate initiatives and other longstanding policy priorities.

Miniature Vermont and U.S. flags sit on a desk in a otherwise empty House Chamber of the Vermont statehouse.
Matthew Smith / VPR File

Lawmakers are coming down the homestretch of the 2021 session and there seem to be some significant budget issues dividing legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Scott. This hour, we talk with Vermont's legislative leaders about this and other issues. 

A photo of the Vermont Statehouse, taken from below the steps leading up to it, with a green forested hillside in full green foliage behind it on a sunny day.
Doug Kerr / Flickr

Elected officials in Montpelier this year have an unprecedented amount of money to work with while crafting the state’s budget. That’s thanks to an unexpected boost in state revenues and a series of massive COVID relief packages from Congress. How to spend that money, however, has become a source of tension between the Republican governor and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

Vermont Senator Becca Balint in Legislature
Maria French, Courtesy

Friday marked the halfway point for Vermont’s legislative session, also known as "crossover day." It marks the deadline for bills to be passed out of committee, which can help signal which measures stand a chance of passing the full body.

an orange prescription bottle, syringes and white pills
Moussa81 / iStock

A total of 134 Vermonters have died from opioid overdoses through November of last year, a 35% increase from the 99 deaths reported in all of 2019. A group of lawmakers met last week to discuss potential policies, and one idea stood out: decriminalizing drugs in Vermont.

The Vermont Statehouse surrounded by snow.
Henry Epp / VPR File

Governor Phil Scott has proposed a small increase in state spending. But he also has plans to invest more than $200 million in one-time federal stimulus money. This hour, we look at the Democrats' budget priorities with House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint.

Senator Joe Benning stands at podium
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR Files

Lawmakers from both parties are grappling with the aftermath of Wednesday’s events, when a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building. In Vermont, some prominent Republicans, including Gov. Phil Scott, are also speaking out against Trump for his role in inciting violence.

Gov. Phil Scott at a podium with lights in the background
Glenn Russell / Pool photo

Vermont's 2021 legislative session opened Wednesday (albeit in different fashion than in past years), and Gov. Phil Scott delivered his inaugural address Thursday evening.

The House Chamber, pictured above in 2019, will remain mostly empty for the foreseeable future of the 2021 legislative session
Matthew Smith / VPR file

The second day of the new legislative session is traditionally the biggest ceremonial day in the Statehouse, a time when officials are sworn into office and a joint session of the legislature packs into the House chamber for the Governor’s inaugural address. But the pandemic means this new session is anything but traditional.

Two men in masks walk past the granite columns of the statehouse
Elodie Reed / VPR

Today marks the first day of the new legislative session in Vermont, and outgoing Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman gaveled in the Senate for an in-person floor session this morning.

A conversation with Becca Balint, incoming Senate President Pro Tem, as a new legislative session begins. Plus, COVID-19 numbers are rising regionally and the UK mutation is expected to show up soon.

Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would increase the proportion of education resources going to districts with economically disadvantaged students.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Wednesday is the first day of the 2021 legislative session, and the Statehouse is faced with quite an unusual openining day, followed by a remote start to the session. This hour, we talk with freshman lawmakers and Statehouse employees about their plans, hopes and worries for 2021. 

Vermont Senator Becca Balint in Legislature
Maria French, Courtesy

Democratic Sen. Becca Balint of Brattleboro is poised to be the first woman and openly gay person in Vermont history to serve as the Senate president pro tempore. Balint joins a historic all-female leadership team in the Legislature, during a session that is sure to be dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Vermonters.

Republican Sen. Randy Brock, pictured here during his 2012 gubernatorial campaign, returns to this the State House as the new Senate Minority Leader.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Republican Sen. Randy Brock of Franklin County is a familiar face in the halls of Montpelier. He's served multiple terms in the Senate and as state auditor, but he returns to the Capitol this month in a new leadership role as Senate Minority Leader.

A check-in with some Vermonters who are trying to manage economic uncertainty. Plus, a conversation with the new Speaker of the House, affordable housing, and an airplane hangar.

A woman sits at a desk in the Vermont House chamber.
Elodie Reed / VPR file

The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Vermonters is likely to dominate this year's biennium, which is set to begin this week. The new legislative session will open with a new slate of lawmakers poised to take over in leadership positions. That includes Rep. Jill Krowinski, of Burlington, who is slated to become the new Speaker of the House.

Rep. Pattie McCoy sits in the Vermont House chamber, looking ahead with hands folded.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

There are some big changes in leadership at the Statehouse to mark the start of a new biennium in Montpelier. But one of the few familiar faces belongs to Rep. Pattie McCoy, who represents Poultney and Ira. She's been reappointed House Minority Leader, making her the only holdover from 2020 in a leadership role.

Vermont’s electors to the Electoral College will meet today. Plus, vaccines on the way, cuts to federal unemployment, and housing for Vermonters experiencing homelessness.

An upward view of the statehouse dome.
Elodie Reed / VPR File

Health concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic mean the 2021 legislative session will be quite different from previous years. But before lawmakers get together in January, Vermont's three electors to the Electoral College will meet in Montpelier on Monday, Dec. 14.

A woman sitting at a table by a woodstove
Erica Heilman / VPR

Terri Williams was recently elected to the Vermont House of Representatives for the Essex-Caledonia district, which has exactly one representative. Independent producer Erica Heilman visited the freshman lawmaker at her house in Granby, and they talked in her garage during the first freezing rain this fall.