Vermont Legislature

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Jenny Green sits in front of a laptop computer that's loading a New York Times web story.
John Dillon / VPR

The promise of modern communications has bypassed many people and many rural communities in Vermont. And once again, the Legislature and the governor are promising to do more to deliver broadband to underserved areas.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand an employer's ability to administer drug tests to employees.
sercansamanci / istock

Vermont's laws on workplace drug testing make it difficult to test employees after they're hired. Now lawmakers are considering a bill expanding an employer's ability to test workers suspected of being under the influence on the job, or if they cause an accident. We're looking at Vermont's existing drug testing laws, the proposed changes and what it means for workers and employers.

Lawmakers elected Col. Greg Knight, of Huntington, to serve as the next adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The next leader of the Vermont National Guard said he plans to reform an organization that came under fire last year after a series of stories alleging sexual harassment and other misconduct.

Vogel: Act 250 Review

Feb 21, 2019
Ted Samuelsen / Housing Vermont

Now almost 50 years old, the Land Use and Development Act known as Act 250 has been largely successful in preventing suburban sprawl as well as preserving the forests and farms that are such a prominent part of the Vermont landscape and identity. But that success has been costly, adding considerable expense in time and money to large commercial projects and to housing projects with more than ten units.

Hundreds of Vermonters turned out for a public hearing earlier this month on an abortion-rights bill introduced in Montpelier. The Vermont House preliminarily approved the legislation by a vote of 104-40 Wednesday evening.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

An abortion-rights bill approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday evening wouldn’t change the legal status quo in Vermont, but the legislation nonetheless spurred a six-hour debate on the House floor.

Lawmakers are drafting rules to regulate the cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis. But what Vermont's rules will be and if there's support to make them law remains an open question.
Seastock / iStock

Last year Vermont legalized the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana. Now Vermont lawmakers are drafting rules for a legal and regulated system to buy, sell and grow cannabis. We're looking at what's being proposed for commercial cannabis in Vermont.

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

The Vermont Senate has given its final approval to legislation that would impact how voters in Chittenden County are represented in that chamber.

Testimony is heard on the House floor.
Toby Talbot / AP

This week House lawmakers gave an extension to some—but not all—school districts that have yet to merge under Act 46, giving some districts as much as an additional year to comply with the state's school district merger mandate.

Brittany Lovejoy, of Montgomery, wears a black veil at a public hearing in Montpelier Wednesday, where she urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would create a "fundamental right" to abortion in Vermont.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

It’s been more than 45 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, but as Vermont House lawmakers learned at a public hearing Wednesday evening, the debate over abortion rights is as intense as it’s ever been.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

House lawmakers appear poised to grant a yearlong reprieve to about half of the Vermont school districts that face a fast-approaching deadline for complying with a controversial school governance mandate.

Marijuana plants.
gaspr13 / iStock

The Senate Judiciary Committee is quickly moving ahead with a tax-and-regulate marijuana bill, but the plan could face an uncertain future with the Scott administration because it doesn't include the driver impairment measures that the governor says must be part of the bill.

Northern Vermont University President Elaine Collins, seen here on the Johnson campus, says state colleges need more state funding in order to lower tuition rates and increase support services for students.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Elected officials will need to nearly double the state’s contribution to higher education if they want to ensure Vermont students have access to an affordable college education, according to the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System.

A view of the US Capitol dome as seen through a window from the Russell Senate building.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Vermont’s Republican governor and Democratically controlled Legislature have managed to do what elected officials in Washington, D.C., so far have not: provide financial relief to the federal workers forced to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

Lawmakers such as Putney Rep. Michael Mrowicki, at the podium, are pushing for legislation that would give school districts more time to comply with a law that requires many districts to merge. About 30 districts are challenging the merger law in court.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A tri-partisan group of lawmakers want to postpone a legal deadline that will otherwise force Vermont school districts into involuntary mergers by July 1.

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

Since the Civil War, there has never been a time when the Republican Party in Vermont has had so few members in both the House and the Senate. GOP leaders say this current situation has a profound impact on the role of the Republican caucuses at the Statehouse.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins us to talk about her legislative agenda.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

One of the goals of House Speaker Mitzi Johnson is to create economic development programs that can revitalize rural parts of Vermont. We're talking with Speaker Johnson about her priorities for the coming legislative session.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, standing and speaking to people gathered.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Senate leaders say they hope to quickly pass a bill that would create a retail marijuana market that the state would tax and regulate.

A group of Vermonters, including Justin Sinkevich, at right holding a sign, rallied in Montpelier last week in opposition to a carbon tax. While some lawmakers favor the concept, leadership in the House and Senate are resistant to the idea..
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A growing number of climate advocates say increasing the price of fossil fuels is the surest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but leaders in the House and Senate are resisting calls for a carbon tax in Vermont.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Attorney General TJ Donovan said Monday he will not file charges in the reported racial harassment of former State Rep. Kiah Morris, though he believes Morris and her family were victims.

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