Vermont Legislature

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A dusting of snow on top of the golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Here's a look at what issues are likely to come up for discussion in the Vermont Legislature during the coming months.

Lawmakers this year will take up many of the same issues they debated in 2018, including paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage, and whether or not to tax and regulate cannabis.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

State revenues may be outpacing expectations this year, but the leaders of the House and Senate say growing demand for services could complicate the budget process during the 2019 legislative session.

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.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe have competing views on the wisdom of moving to a tax-and-regulate model for cannabis sales in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said lawmakers in his chamber will fast-track legislation that would create a retail market for cannabis sales in Vermont, but House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said she isn’t convinced Vermonters are ready for a tax-and-regulate system.

An aerial view of an damanged bridge with a construction vehicle nearby.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

Act 250, Vermont’s major land use and development review law, is approaching the mid-century mark. And a commission that has spent the last 18 months looking at its future says the law need to be updated to reflect more current environmental threats, such as climate change.

With a conservative majority now in control of the U.S. Supreme Court, Vermont lawmakers will look to codify abortion rights in the state constitution.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

A proposal from Vermont lawmakers to add an abortion-rights amendment to the state constitution has advocates on both sides of the issue gearing up for an emotional debate over the future of reproductive rights in the state.

The number of children taken into state custody has increased over the past six years, and lawmakers are struggling to find ways to ensure their wellbeing.
Moussa81 / iStock

Lawmakers are looking for novel ways to relieve stress on a child welfare system that’s straining under the weight of Vermont’s opioid problem.

Single-use plastic bags hang on a wall.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR File

The city of Boston’s ban on plastic grocery bags went into effect Friday, and a regional environmental group says it will push for legislation to impose a similar ban in all six New England states.

An excavator amid rocks at the Sheffield Quarry.
Jon Pierre Lasseigne / Associated Press File

A state-appointed commission is winding up 18 months of work reviewing the successes, the failures and the future of Act 250, the state’s landmark development review law.

Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a podium at the GOP Election Night headquarters with a VT GOP banner behind him.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Gov. Phil Scott may have cruised to re-election Tuesday, but he’ll return to the governor’s office with diminished power over state government.

A sign for Progressive/Democrat Chris Pearson. Pearson is one of six incumbent state senators in Chittenden County running for re-election.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Thirteen candidates are vying for the six state Senate seats in Vermont’s most populous county. 

Lawn signs for the candidates. Republicans are hoping to beat House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Ben Joseph in the Chittenden-Grand Isle District. The GOP candidates are Leland and Michael Morgan, an uncle and nephew from Milton.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR File

This election, Republicans hope to unseat Vermont Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson. Johnson has been in the legislature for 15 years and just finished her first term as speaker.

From left, Sen. Richard Westman, Sen. Tim Ashe and Savi Van Sluytman, executive director of Lamoille County Mental Health Services, at a meeting in Morrisville Monday. Employees at the agency say they don't have enough funding to meet demand.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The workers on the frontlines of Vermont’s mental health system say they’re struggling to meet increased demand for their services.

Commissioner of Buildings and General Services Chris Cole stands in a wing of the Statehouse that's been overtaken by mold. Cole says it'll cost an estimated $500,000 to clean up the committee rooms before lawmakers return in January.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A mold infestation in the Vermont Statehouse has rendered 14 legislative committee rooms temporarily unfit for human occupancy.

The exterior of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on a blue-sky day.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

With only about a month until Election Day, candidates for statewide office are garnering most of the media attention in Vermont. However political action committees appear to be focusing most of their energy on local races for House and Senate.

Secretary of State Jim Condos wants to make it easier for Vermonters to appeal a denial of a public records request
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Secretary of State Jim Condos is backing an effort to give Vermonters easier access to public records.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

My mother, Mary Broderick, served on my Connecticut hometown’s Board of Education for years, eventually serving at the state and national level. It was inspiring, but I still sometimes wondered if the cause was worth the cost - because it’s hard to do a job that doesn’t pay well and requires time away from your family even when you love it.

Rep. Kiah Morris, left, speaks at a podium during a Statehouse press conference about a racial justice bill back in March.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR File

Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris is speaking up about her decision not to seek re-election — and she said being the target of hate both online and in the real world played a factor in her decision to withdraw her candidacy. 

Headshot of Kiah Morris in the Vermont House chamber.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR File

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is investigating online threats made against a state representative from Bennington.

Rep. Kiah Morris at a podium in March speaking about racial justice legislation
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris is no longer seeking re-election.