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

Governor Shumlin's plan to transfer $17 million from the state's Earned Income Tax Credit program to pay for his child care initiative is under fire in the Senate.

Shumlin is looking to the Senate to keep his plan alive because it was rejected by the House last month.

The EITC is a federal program and Vermont matches 32 percent of a household's federal credit. The program is designed primarily to assist low income working people with children.

The Senate Transportation committee is set to make a key change in the gas tax bill that was adopted by the House several weeks ago.

Lawmakers are eyeing the gas tax as a way to raise new revenue to allow the state to take full advantage of all federal matching money that's available.

The Transportation Fund has a major shortfall this year because the gas tax is levied on a per gallon basis nd sales have dropped more than 40 million gallons over the past 7 years.

This year Senator Bill Doyle tabulated almost 14,000 surveys from all parts of the state, and by a margin of 56 to 33 percent, those responding to the Survey said they didn't want to increase the gas tax to pay for road and bridge repairs.

Doyle says he was surprised by these results.

"I will say that I knew it would go down but I didn't think it would go down 2 to 1, said Doyle. Most of us drive to work and when you drive to work you're using a lot of gasoline."

Play Ball, 2013!

Mar 29, 2013
VPR/Ric Cengeri / The 2013 baseball season begins Sunday night.

The smell of the grass. The smack of ball into mitt. The crack of the bat. All signs that the baseball season is near. The 2013 season opens Sunday night when the Texas Rangers travel to Houston to face the now-American League Astros.

This should prove to be an interesting season in the AL East, where the Red Sox and Yankees could struggle. Toronto made some major off-season moves, the Orioles continue to develop and the Tampa Bay Rays have gone from also-rans to perennial contenders.

Governor Peter Shumlin

Mar 28, 2013
Former Gov. Peter Shumlin says he underestimated the political and policy challenges of implementing a single payer health care system in Vermont.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Back in January, the Governor laid out his budget plans and priorities. And his second inauguration speech was devoted almost entirely to education.As the Legislature now debates tax revenues and tries to agree on a budget, Governor Peter Shumlin joins us to offer his reaction to the State House maneuvering.

AP/Toby Talbot / This photo taken March 20, 2013 shows people listening to Lindsey Tucker, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Vermont

Vermont's new health care exchange will go into effect in January 2014. Starting then, all individuals and companies with fewer than 50 employees will be required to purchase health insurance coverage through that exchange.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

In the next few weeks,lawmakers will consider a number of critical issues, including how to raise newtax revenue, local control over energy projects, an end of life bill and the decriminalization of marijuana.

Senate President John Campbell talks about these and other issues.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The debate over putting a moratorium on wind energy projects in Vermont and taken a turn. Now a bill in the Statehouse would instead give towns a greater say in whether wind projects could be built within the town's lines by subjecting projects to Act 250 criteria. We discuss who should decide where wind energy projects are built in Vermont with state Sen. Joe Benning,who supports a moratorium, and Gabrielle Stebbins of Renewable Energy Vermont who argues for a statewide approach to wind projects.

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
A new law will redirect uncollected bottle deposit money from the beverage industry to clean water programs
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.

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

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

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.