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.

Ways to Connect

VPR's Bob Kinzel.

The Legislature gets back to business in Montpelier next week and it has a long list of issues to address. Lawmakers will have to draft a state budget for next year without knowing the full impact of the federal sequestration cuts, as well as vet several tax plans, including the gas tax, a tax on soda and a tax onbreak-open tickets.

Burlington Free-Press Reporter Terri Hallenbeck, Dave Gram of the Associated Press and VPR's Ross Sneyd look at these topics as well as the future of efforts to regulate wind projects and an end-of-life bill.

The Sequester Cometh

Mar 1, 2013
Toby Talbot / AP File

It's March 1st and the across the board government spending cuts known as the sequester are supposed to go into effect today. We'll discuss what those cuts might mean for Vermont with Congressman Peter Welch and Governor Shumlin.

AP/Toby Talbot / Vermont Adjutant General Steven Cray

Vermont is the only state in the country that has its adjutant general elected by the Legislature. In 48 states, the governor selects the person to fill the role. In South Carolina, they are elected by the voters. The position was vacated by Adjutant General, Michael Dubie who was chosen by President Obama to serve as Deputy Commander of the United States Northern Command.

The Legislature chose Air Guard Brigadier General Steven Cray. The other candidates were retired Army Col.Michael Bullock, Army Col. Darryl Ducharme and South Burlington patent lawyer James Leas.

Welch On The Sequester

Feb 15, 2013
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and others finish a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, to

President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But before Congress can take up anything else, they have to re-negotiate the debt ceiling and keep sequestration cuts from going into effect on March 1st.

Congressman Welch discusses these and other issues facing Congress.

Also on the program, VPR's John Dillon provides analysis of the week's news.

Sweet on Soda Tax?

Feb 8, 2013
AP/Jacquelyne Martin

This morning, the house health care committee will begin hearing testimony about the SSB tax. This bill would implement a penny per ounce tax on sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages. Vermonters consume an average of 50 gallons of soda a year per person.

Last year, New York City passed a law restricting sales of large-sized sugary soft drinks, but Denmark abandoned its controversial sugar and fat taxes. Attempts to tax sugar-sweetened beverages in the US have failed in more than 30 states and at the federal level.

AP/Toby Talbot / Transportation revenues have dropped in the state which could affect Federal dollars.

People are driving more fuel-efficient cars, which is just one reason that Vermont transportation revenues are down. That means that the state could miss out on available federal funds. Some lawmakers want to raise new transportation revenues so this funding doesn't go unclaimed.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Pat Brennan of Colchester and Dick Mazza, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, discuss the options available to the state.

Also on the program, VPR's John Dillon provides analysis of the week's news.

AP/Toby Talbot / House Speaker Shap Smith with Governor Peter Shumlin.

During his inauguration speech last week, Governor Peter Shumlin proposed a plan to increase child care subsidies by taking money from the earned income tax credit. We hear House Speaker Shap Smith's take on the plan, he discusses the proposal to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and a bill to decriminalize marijuana.

He also discusses the future of the Waterbury State Office Complex, possible budget cuts and the possibility of raising the gas tax.

AP/Toby Talbot / Gov. Peter Shumlin points to supporters during his inauguration to a second term on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 in Montpelier.

Governor Peter Shumlin chose one topic only for his inaugural address - education. The governor will be our guest Friday on Vermont Edition to explain the education priorities he set out in Thursday's speech. We also talk with Shumlin about whether he'll push for gun control and the potential for a gas tax increase to generate revenue for the Transportation Fund.

Vermont and Lincoln

Jan 4, 2013
Flickr/BradJWard

The new movie about President Abraham Lincoln has raised a lot of interest about Lincoln's role in the Civil War and the difficult decisions he had to make. We'll discuss some of the key Vermont connections to Lincoln and how Vermonters responded to Lincoln's leadership with historian Howard Coffin and Hildene Executive Director Seth Bongartz.

Also, we'll hear from Congressman Peter Welch about his vote on the last minute 'fiscal cliff' legislation.

AP/Toby Talbot / The Democratic primary for Attorney General between incumbent Bill Sorrell and challenger T.J. Donovan was one of the biggest

The debate over basing the F-35s in Burlington raged this year. As did the construction of industrial wind farms. The merger between Green Mountain Power and CVPS also had its detractors. A heated primary campaign for Attorney General didn't stop the Democrats from a near sweep of statewide races. The state almost fully recovered from Tropical Storm Irene,but FEMA funding was short of what was expected. And the governor had a much-publicized encounter with some bears.

The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut put the issue of gun control back in the headlines. This week, Senator Patrick Leahy said he'd hold hearings on gun control legislation. We hear from Senator Leahy on what he thinks should happen with gun laws.

And retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis discusses how politics influences gun control legislation in Vermont and Washington.

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation strongly oppose a new GOP tax plan
Toby Talbot / Associated Press/File

January 1, 2013 will bring big tax increases and massive budget cuts unless Congress and the president resolve their impasse concerning the federal deficit. The self-imposed fiscal cliff was intended to create an imperative for deficit problem-solving, but President Obama and the Republican-led House of Representatives have yet to reach an agreement.

The Senate Health and Welfare committee plans to take a detailed look at a bill creating a publicly financed primary care system for all Vermonters
Chitose Suzuki / Associated Press

Vermont is moving towards a single payer health care system, and doctors trying to imagine how an overhauled system will change the way they treat and interact with patients. Among the issues are the possible rationing of health care, and who decides some of the critical budgetary decisions that will have to be made. We hear from two doctors debate the possible ramifications of single-payer health care: Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Jonathan Weker.

Middlebury College Political Science Professors Bert Johnson and Matt Dickinson.

Once again, Vermont was the first state that was declared as a victory for President Obama when he wasre-elected Tuesday. In addition, Vermont gave the President one his most lopsided victories, second only to Hawaii.

Middlebury College political science professors Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson - known as the Professor Pundits - discuss some of the key factors in the presidential race,the future of the Electoral College and the influence of money on our political system.

Toby Talbot / AP

All the campaign calls, handshakes, honk-and-waves and debates end Tuesday with the election. We take one last opportunity to evaluate this year's races.

VTDigger's Anne Galloway, Pete Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau and VPR's John Dillon join Bob Kinzel to look at the people and issues in all the statewide races. They also discuss the impact that Super PAC money has had in this campaign, particularly in the race for Treasurer.

VPR

When Governor Peter Shumlin named Jeb Spaulding as his Secretary of Administration, Beth Pearce was elevated to fill his position as Treasurer. She now faces challengers Republican Wendy Wilton and Progressive Don Schramm, in what has been the most contentious race of this election cycle.

Bob Kinzel hosts a debate of the three major party candidates as they outline their qualifications for the position.

AP/Toby Talbot

Vermont's Attorney General is called the state's top law enforcement officer. Seven-term incumbent Bill Sorrell (D) is running for re-election and faces major party opposition from Jack McMullen (R) and Ed Stanak (P).

Video Deep Links - Attorney General's Debate

Listen to the entire debate, orc lick the topics below to jump to that section.

Bob Kinzel's questions to thecandidates:

AP Photo / Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and challenger John MacGovern, right.

The major party candidates for U.S. Senate,incumbent Bernie Sanders (I) and challenger John MacGovern (R), met in a live debate Friday, Oct. 12, on Vermont Edition, moderated by VPR's Bob Kinzel.

Listen to the entire debate, or click to specific topics.

Bob Kinzel's questions to the candidates:

Fiscal Cliff Looms

Oct 5, 2012
Senator Patrick Leahy
AP/Toby Talbot

Congress put off decisions about several tax and budget issues when it adjourned last month. If those bill aren't passed soon after the election, the tax burden on the average Vermont household will go up 6 percent, about $3,500, starting January 1, 2013.Our guest on Vermont Edition is Senator Patrick Leahy to discuss the stalemate over these bills, and what it will take to resolve these critical issues during Congress' lame-duck session after the November election.

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