Kirk Carapezza

Online Editor/Reporter

Kirk is a reporter for the NPR member station in Boston, WGBH, where he covers higher education, connecting the dots between post-secondary education and the economy, national security, jobs and global competitiveness. Kirk has been a reporter with Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis.; a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkCarapezza.

 

Ways to Connect

Michael Dwyer / AP

Most years, Saint Anselm College is just another private religious college in New England. But every four years, come presidential primary season, this mid-level liberal arts school punches well above its weight.

shironosov / iStock.com

The cost of college is a hot topic around kitchen tables and on the campaign trail. But will it be a year from now, when Americans vote for a new president? A new WGBH News poll indicates there’s increased interest now, but history tells us other themes will probably surpass it in the general election.

Molley Riley / AP

As students are increasingly stressed about their finances, debt-free college is all the rage. Politicians are using the concept as an attractive campaign platform, but critics say it makes more sense in theory than in practice.

AP/Toby Talbot

Several dozen people who lost their homes to tropical Storm Irene nearly two years ago are only now starting to get the money they need to get back on their feet. The town of Northfield plans to buy 13 properties where homes were destroyed.

After two long winters, the leaves have turned green again here on Water Street. You can still see signs of Irene. ‘No Trespassing’ signs hang in the windows of empty homes. There’s still silt covering most of the lawns here.

The Vermont Legislature is tying up loose ends today as it prepares to adjourn for the year.

Lawmakers are expected to work well into the evening to reach an agreement on the proposed $1.4 billion general fund budget.

The end of the session came into sight after legislative leaders opted not to challenge Gov. Peter Shumlin over their plan to lower income tax rates. The key to the deal was to get reassurance from the governor that he will consider a similar tax plan next January.

Toby Talbot / AP File Photo

Lawmakers agreed on Monday to decriminalize the possession of small amounts marijuana.

The move comes just months after Colorado and Washington State took the issue a step further and legalized pot.

Right now, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in Vermont is a misdemeanor that can result in six months in jail for a first offense – two years for subsequent offenses.

Toby Talbot / AP

House Speaker Shap Smith is optimistic that legislative leaders will wrap up a budget bill by the end of the day. If that happens, the Legislature is on track to adjourn the 2013 session Tuesday evening.

But the two-day timetable depends on whether Democrats in the House and Senate and Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin can agree on a revenue package.

The tax-writing committees have been busy on an income tax proposal they say is revenue neutral. The plan would lower taxes for 250,000 filers but raise taxes on about 15,000 upper-income earners.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

With the support of some members of the Vermont business community, the House on Friday morning finalized a bill to require labeling food that contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The vote was 99-42.

Hundreds of businesses and all 17 of the state’s food cooperatives have expressed their support for GMO labeling.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

The state Legislature has taken a major step toward changing the way food is labeled in Vermont.

On Thursday, the House approved legislation to require labeling of food that contains genetically modified organisms – or GMOs. Boosted by public support, lawmakers said the benefits of GMO labeling and the right of consumers to know what’s in their food outweighs the risk of a potential lawsuit brought by the dairy and biotech industries. If passed, Vermont would become the first state to require GMO foods to be labeled.

VPR/John Dillon

With the end of the legislative session looming, lawmakers are considering a number of bills ranging from food labeling to child care.

The Senate took up an omnibus education bill on Thursday that includes legislation that would extend the right to organize a union to child care workers. An earlier version of the bill died in committee, when one of its sponsors, Sen. Bill Doyle, R-Washington, voted against it.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

In our hyper-connected world, some may find that it’s increasingly difficult to slow down long enough to read and truly enjoy a poem. A professor at the University of Vermont is encouraging his students to appreciate the sound and feel of poems.

Major Jackson says at an early age he fell in love with condensed language as a reader of poetry. His working-class African-American grandparents kept books filled with poems in their northern Philadelphia home. From time to time, Jackson would come across a poem that resonated with him sonically.

Despite the threat of a federal lawsuit, the House passed legislation on Wednesday that would cap donations to political action groups known as “Super PACs.” In a lengthy floor debate, House members said many Vermont voters are disillusioned with how much money pours into politics – at the state and federal level.

House Speaker Shap Smith said his constituents’ concerns have largely revolved around Super PACs, which aim to control the message in political campaigns.

AP File/Toby Talbot

Vermont officials say the state has received approval from FEMA to start demolition of the state office complex in Waterbury. Many of the buildings had to be abandoned after flooding by Tropical Storm Irene.

Administration Secretary Jeb says state officials received verbal approval last week and they're expecting written approval later this week.

Spaulding says the demolition work can begin in a couple of months.

And he says they expect to hear from FEMA in the near future about how much the state will be reimbursed in all for the $124 million project.

The Senate passed over more controversial items on its agenda Wednesday morning, including a bill that would allow child care workers to unionize and the end-of-life bill that has resulted in several stalemates. Those bills were likely to be taken up later in the afternoon.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

Congress continues to search for a compromise on immigration reform. Meanwhile, Vermont is the latest state to approve legislation that allows those in this country illegally to apply for the right to drive. The bill passed in the House on Tuesday, 105-39, extends eligibility for driving and identification purposes.

It’s estimated that there are about 1,500 immigrant workers in Vermont, without whom this state’s vibrant dairy industry would likely collapse.

The Vermont Legislature is one step closer to decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

On Tuesday, the Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval to legislation that would make it a civil offense rather than a crime to possess one ounce or less of pot. The vote was 24-6.

The Senate version slightly amends the bill that overwhelmingly passed in the House last month, adding a new system for penalties for people under 21.

In the House and the Senate, supporters have made it clear that this bill would not legalize possession of marijuana in Vermont.

A key panel is sending to the House floor legislation that would require labels on genetically modified food sold in Vermont.

The House Judiciary Committee voted, 7-4, on Tuesday to advance a bill that would prohibit the use of the term “natural” on the labels of foods, while exempting meat and dairy that has been fed genetically engineered grains.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

The House has advanced a bill that would allow people who are in the United States illegally to apply for the right to drive in Vermont.

The legislation is designed to improve mobility for migrant workers who are often isolated on Vermont farms.

The bill would create what are described as drivers’ privilege cards. It would allow the state to issue IDs that look different from a regular state license.

The Vermont House is expected to advance today a bill that allows those who may be in this country illegally to apply for the right to drive.

The bill would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards, allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue IDs that would look different from a regular state license.

AP/Toby Talbot

The clock is running out on the 2013 legislative session, and it appears time has run out for a bill requiring labels on genetically modified food sold in Vermont. While lawmakers remain concerned that a state law on genetic labeling could provoke a lawsuit from the biotech industry, supporters are holding out hope.

In 1998, the American company Monsanto ran ads in France and in the UK. Monsanto supported labels on food that was made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The ads appeared in newspapers shortly after the European Union passed labeling laws.

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