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

According to former Governor Jim Douglas, the Republican Party has two paths it can follow in the future.

One is to promote a narrow group of issues based on a strict ideological and inflexible point of view. The other is to become a “big tent” Party that allows its members to have different positions on a number of controversial social issues such as same sex marriage and abortion.

Douglas says it is now clear that the inflexible approach, as promoted by many local Tea Party groups, is not the path that the GOP should pursue in the future.

Pete Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau talks with VPR's Bob Kinzel about the future of the Republican Party in Vermont and the steps to end the division on issues.

Fri 5/21/13 Noon & 7PM How can the Republican Party connect with mainstream America? Former Governor Jim Douglas talks with Bob Kinzel about the future of Vermont's GOP. We'll also hear from Pete Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he regrets calling for the resignation of senator Al Franken before the Senate Ethics committee had a change to fully investigate the matter
Toby Talbot / AP/File

Senator Patrick Leahy has decided not to include an amendment providing rights to same sex couples in the immigration reform bill because he’s concerned that it could cause a number of senators to vote against the overall legislation.

Over the course of the last three weeks, the Senate Judiciary committee considered hundreds of amendments to an immigration reform bill.

The State of Vermont says a newly formed Health Care Cooperative has serious financial problems and should not be given a license to offer insurance policies beginning next year. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, member owned Cooperatives can be licensed to sell health insurance policies on a state exchange beginning in 2014. To do so, they must receive both federal and state approval.

Congressman Peter Welch is urging members of Congress to remember the lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before sending military supplies to opposition forces in Syria.

Earlier this month, Welch was part of a Congressional oversight mission that traveled to a number of countries in the Middle East.

He says seeing almost half a million refugees at a camp along the Turkish – Syrian border was a sobering experience that highlighted the limits of what the United States can do in this conflict.

Senator Patrick Leahy’s plan to strengthen an investment visa program has been added to the massive immigration reform bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee.

The committee is in the process of reviewing hundreds of amendments to the bill. Leahy serves as the chairman of the panel.

The EB-5 visa program grants green cards to foreign businesspeople and their families in exchange for a $500,000 investment in a sanctioned economic development project.

As part of the agreement, it must also create at least ten new jobs.

AP/Toby Talbot

Fri 5/17/13 Noon & 7PM The Legislature adjourned late Wednesday night after finalizing the budget, and passing controversial bills on marijuana decriminalization, end of life care, and drivers licenses for non-citizens. There were quite a few proposals left on the table, however. VTDigger's Anne Galloway, Pete Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau and VPR's John Dillon join Bob Kinzel to look back at 2013's legislative session.

Senator Patrick Leahy is optimistic that a new Farm Bill, one that makes big changes in national dairy policies, will win broad bi-partisan support in the Senate. However, the outlook in the House is less certain.

For months, there’s been no Farm Bill in place because of major differences between the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Now, there’s a new effort in Congress to pass this legislation.

By a vote of 15 to 5, the Senate Agriculture committee has given its approval to a bill that restructures current dairy policies.

AP/Toby Talbot

At a little after 10:20 Tuesday night, House Speaker Shap Smith brought the gavel down on the 2013 Legislative session.

It was a session that was dominated by money issues. The budget was tight and lawmakers rejected Governor Peter Shumlin’s plan to increase spending on child care services by taking money from the state’s earned income tax credit program.

AP/Toby Talbot

High on the list of “must-pass” bills as the Legislature inched toward adjournment on Tuesday was a plan to finance Vermont’s new health care exchange beginning in January 2015. The estimated annual cost is $18 million.

When the exchange goes into place, it will be financed initially by a continuation of the current assessment on employers that don’t offer coverage to their employees. That assessment is roughly $400 a year for each employee.

Toby Talbot / AP

Legislative leaders decided on Monday not to challenge Gov. Peter Shumlin over their plan to lower income tax rates.

The key to the deal was the assurance by the governor that he will work with lawmakers on a similar tax plan next January.

Democratic leaders at the Statehouse didn’t relish the possibility of getting into a major fight over taxes with a governor from their own party in the final days of the session.

Toby Talbot / AP

The governor and legislative Democrats still can’t agree on tax policy. That means the legislative session will continue into next week.

The question facing Democratic leaders on the tax plan was whether or not they wanted to directly challenge Governor Peter Shumlin.

Under the proposal, some personal income tax deductions would be capped, and a minimum tax rate for people who earn more than $125,000 would be put into place and the new revenue would be used to lower all of Vermont’s marginal income tax rates.

End Of Life Bill Recap

May 10, 2013

It was an intense week in the Vermont Senate over the debate on the End of Life bill – and there were many times when the outcome was totally in doubt. VPR reporter John Dillon has been following the story and explains the twists and turns it's taken from the Senate, to the House, and back and forth again.

Legislative leaders are working on a new tax plan that could put Governor Peter Shumlin in an awkward position.

For most of the session, the tax committees at the Statehouse worked on a plan to raise new revenue by capping income tax deductions and by imposing a minimum 3 percent tax rate for everyone who makes more than $125,000.

But the plan seemed to be dead when the Governor and Legislative leaders announced a deal to balance the state budget without raising any taxes.

AP/Toby Talbot

Fri 5/10/13 at Noon & 7PM The legislative session is in its final days and the fate of a number of bills will be decided soon. On the next Vermont Edition, our guest is House Speaker Shap Smith. We discuss the latest on a budget plan that would lower taxes for many people, marijuana decriminalization and legislation to restrain education spending.

Also, VPR's John Dillon recaps the strange twists and turns taken by a bill that supporters had hoped would  allow what they call "death with dignity" and what opponents call "physician assisted suicide."

Before the legislative session ends, lawmakers are expected to consider two important tax bills that deal with education spending and the financing of the state’s health care Exchange.

Big increases in school spending are expected over the next two years and lawmakers are looking at ways to encourage towns to limit their budget growth.

Currently, if a town spends 25 percent above the statewide average, a sizeable penalty is imposed. Under a bill passed by the House, this threshold would be reduced to 21 percent over several years.     

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

Governor Peter Shumlin and Legislative leaders have agreed on a plan to balance next year’s budget without raising new taxes but some changes to the income tax could still happen.

For weeks the Administration and legislative leaders have been negotiating over the size of next year’s budget and the tax package that would be needed to support the budget plan.

Then, at the end of last week, they got the unexpected good news that revenues for April were $16 million higher than expected.

Senator Patrick Leahy says he plans to introduce an amendment to the immigration overhaul bill that would provide new rights for same-sex couples.

Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, and he expects his panel will consider hundreds of amendments to the immigration bill.

AP/Toby Talbot

Fri 5/3/13 Noon & 7pm The 2013 Legislative session is winding down and the fate of many key issues will be decided in the next few weeks. Friday on Vermont Edition, we get a status update on issues like taxes, marijuana decriminalization and end of life care with Statehouse reporters Peter Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau and VPR’s John Dillon.

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