Bob Kinzel

Host, Reporter

Bob is a veteran Vermont journalist, specializing in political reporting. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse. Prior to joining VPR full time in 2002, Bob ran the Vermont News Service for 21 years. The service provided daily local news for eleven stations, including VPR. Bob started the News Service following a stint as news director for WNCS.

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House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins "Vermont Edition" to discuss some of her priorities this legislative session.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson says passing a paid family leave bill this year is one of her top priorities.

We're talking with Speaker Johnson about that bill, plus education funding, water quality, the push for a higher minimum wage and other big issues.

Senate Health and Welfare chairwoman Sen. Claire Ayer is backing a plan to allow Vermont to purchase some prescription drugs from Canada at much lower costs
Angela Evancie / VPR File

The Vermont Senate Committee on Health and Welfare has given its unanimous approval to legislation designed to save Vermont consumers and state government programs millions of dollars in prescription drug costs.

A sign posted at Vermont Public Radio showcases the rise in state minimum wage over recent years. The photo has a filter out areas of the document while leaving other parts in focus.
Photo: Emily Alfin Johnson; Photo Illustration: Meg Malone / VPR

A key Vermont Senate committee has given its approval to legislation increasing the state minimum wage to $15 an hour over a 6-year period. 

Senate Transportation chairman Dick Mazza says he'll oppose a primary enforcement seat belt law this year
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Efforts to strengthen the enforcement of Vermont's seat belt law are running into opposition in the Vermont Senate.

Facing a $58 million funding gap, Vermont lawmakers and the governor have competing proposals to pay for Vermont's schools in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Miatagirl / iStock

A new plan being developed by the Vermont House Committee on Ways and Means could make some significant changes to how Vermont finances education. The plan would shift some of the burden from property taxes to income taxes.

House Ways and Means chairwoman Janet Ancel is hopeful that this is the year for lawmakers to consider a new plan to fund education
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The Vermont House Committee on Ways and Means is taking a serious look at making some significant changes in the way education is financed in the state.

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation voted for the January 2018 federal government shutdown, citing concerns over DACA recipients, the so-called "dreamers" of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Scott Kirkwood / National Parks Conservation Association

Elizabeth Hewitt covers Washington, D.C. politics for VTDigger. She was covering the Capitol as Vermont's Congressional delegation voted for what ultimately became a three-day shutdown of the federal government.

A Vermont State Police cruiser watches for speeding drivers on I-89 in September 2015.
Steve Zind / VPR

Vermont lawmakers are taking up a new highway safety bill that could make failure to wear a seat belt a "stoppable offense," as well as introduce tougher penalties for young motorists using cell phones while driving.

The push comes after a third of victims in Vermont's fatal crashes last year weren't wearing seat belts, in what was the deadliest year on Vermont roads in four years.

Senate Transportation chairman Dick Mazza says he'll oppose a primary enforcement seat belt law this year
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

The Vermont House has given strong initial support to a highway safety bill that includes the primary enforcement of Vermont's seat belt law.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

It's now less than 10 months before the November election and still we're not sure Sanders will be seeking re-election to a third term.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe strongly supports raising Vermont's minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of years.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

The Vermont Senate could vote in the next few weeks on a bill that raises the state minimum wage from the current $10.50 an hour to $15 an hour over a period of several years. 

The legislation is a top priority for Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, but the plan is opposed by Gov. Phil Scott.

In addition to “widespread” flu outbreaks across the country this winter, the flu vaccine is only about 30 percent effective this year, according to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
Toby Talbot / AP

Vermont and nearly every other state in the U.S. is experiencing "widespread" flu outbreaks this winter, and the state health commissioner says the peak of flu season is still to come.

Senate President Tim Ashe joins "Vermont Edition" to discuss his legislative priorities, including a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

Raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of years is one of Senate President Tim Ashe's top priorities for this legislative session. Sen. Ashe joins Vermont Edition to discuss this and other key issues.

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation say they will vote against a short term budget bill if it fails to include Democratic priorities
Toby Talbot / AP/file

The three member of Vermont's congressional delegation say they will vote against a short term funding bill if the plan doesn't maintain a balance between domestic and military spending and  if it doesn't include an immigration reform proposal.

The Chittenden Regional Correctional facility could be closed under the plan proposed by the Scott Administration.
Courtesy, State of Vermont

Key legislative leaders say a new proposal by the Scott Administration to build a multi-purpose 925-bed prison in Franklin County is an ambitious plan that deserves a comprehensive review.

PIlls on a tabletop.
Tomas Nevesely / i-stock

A new Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont report shows there's been a dramatic reduction in the number of prescriptions being written for opioid pain medication in Vermont.

Blue Cross officials says new state prescribing policies, which went into effect July 1, 2017, are a major factor in the decline.

Toby Talbot / AP/File

The administration of Gov. Phil Scott is proposing the construction of a campus-like corrections facility in Franklin County that would include 925 beds.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman addresses supporters of a tax-and-regulate marijuana legalization plan at the Statehouse on Tuesday.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

Gov. Phil Scott has made education spending one of his top priorities, and he's vowed to oppose any plan to raise the statewide property tax rate to meet new budget pressures. 

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman joins Vermont Edition to talk about property tax reform, and what he thinks of the governor's hard line. We also talk about health care, minimum wage and paid family leave — and the lieutenant governor's continuing push for a tax-and-regulate plan on marijuana.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, pictured here at a Senate Budget Committee hearing back on Nov. 28, 2017,
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is encouraging Democrats to withhold support of any proposed Republican budget agreement unless it includes provisions to protect essential domestic programs and provides legal status to the children of undocumented workers, often known as "Dreamers."

Marijuana plants.
Labuda / iStock

The Vermont Senate has given its approval to legislation legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. On a voice vote, the Senate backed a bill Wednesday that allows individuals to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow two mature plants.

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