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

The Vermont Senate is set to give final approval on Friday to a bill that's intended to bolster Vermont’s response to prescription drug addiction by providing wider access to the state’s drug monitoring system.

House and Senate negotiators will soon begin working on a compromise version of the 2014 budget. One of many differences between them is how the state workforce that administers the welfare-to-work program would be affected.

The Vermont State Employees’ Association said on Thursday that the Senate budget would save the jobs of case managers that administer the program known as “Reach Up.”

The House Transportation Committee voted 7-4 on Wednesday in favor of a Senate bill that would allow the state to grant driver identification cards to Vermont residents who are in this country illegally.

Last week, testimony before the committee turned sour when some farm owners questioned some of the migrant farming community’s behavior. Migrant farmers and their advocates characterized that approach as a last-ditch effort to block the legislation from moving forward.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

On Wednesday morning, at the Sunoco station off Route 2 in Montpelier, Bob Grant of Plainfield was filling up his black Chevy truck and two red canisters.

“This is for my garden tractor,” Grant said, pointing to the canisters. “I’m retired but I have a lot of gardens, a lot of lawn.”

The retired grocery store owner stared at the pump as his total climbed higher – above $60. And as his tank topped off, Grant said he would gladly pay the new 5.9 cent per gallon gas tax increase that went into effect on Wednesday in Vermont.

Supporters of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in Vermont are one step closer to their goal.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 4-1,  to advance the House bill that would make it a civil offense – instead of a crime – to possess one ounce or less of marijuana.

Judiciary Chairman Dick Sears was opposed until his Committee amended the bill for the state to treat people under 21 the same for possession of marijuana as for alcohol.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

As public funding for pre-kindergarten plummets nationwide, Vermont lawmakers are debating whether to boost state spending on early childhood education.

On Tuesday, the Vermont House advanced a bill that would extend access to pre-kindergarten. Supporters say the goal is to make it universal across the state, but opponents wonder how – and who – will pay for it.

AP/Toby Talbot

At the Statehouse today, lawmakers are spending much of their time on the House and Senate floor debating a slew of bills. The only thing that’s certain, though, is death and taxes.

AP/Toby Talbot

It promises to be another busy week at the Statehouse. As the House and Senate burn down the clock on the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers will spend a lot of time on the floor debating spending and policy priorities.

The end-of-life choices bill is back on the calendar this week as the House Judiciary Committee considers a number of amendments.

Under a bill approved 85-to-53 by the Vermont House on Friday, teachers and municipal employees who are not members of a union would still have to pay agency fees.

Supporters argue that Vermont’s municipal and educational institutions have been unionized for years, and they say new hires have known they’re accepting a position in a union shop.

Speaking on the House floor after the vote Friday, Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, D-Burlington, said those workers have always accepted their benefits while expecting their workplace rights to be upheld.

AP/Toby Talbot

The Vermont House overwhelmingly passed on Friday a bill that was originally proposed as a moratorium on ridgeline wind development in Vermont. Over the past two months, though, the bill was reduced to a study of how the state approves renewable energy projects.

The House voted 140-to-3 to approve the Senate bill.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

At the Statehouse this week, some Vermont farm owners are raising public safety and liability concerns about a bill that would grant driver identification cards to Vermont residents who are in this country illegally.

It’s the latest effort to stall the legislation, which easily cleared the Senate earlier this month. But migrant workers and their advocates say some of the farmers’ arguments and allegations sound offensive and discriminatory.

The push to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana has hit a snag in the state Senate.

A bill passed by the House earlier this month that would make it a civil offense – instead of a crime – to possess one ounce or less of pot could get a makeover in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Legislature continues to set funding priorities, and a key Senate committee this week is seriously considering capping how much mortgage interest someone can deduct from their state income taxes. Supporters say the plan would raise much-needed revenue.

The Senate Finance Committee could advance as early as Wednesday a proposal that would limit the deduction to $12,000.

AP/Toby Talbot

It’s kale versus chicken, David versus Goliath.

For months, a Vermont folk artist who prints ‘Eat More Kale’ t-shirts above his garage in Montpelier has been trapped in a legal battle with a fast food chain whose slogan is “Eat Mor' Chikin'.”

AP/Toby Talbot

Governor Peter Shumlin is not backing down from his position on gun control, even as momentum in Washington for universal background checks seems to have run out of steam.

Shumlin continues to call for a 50-state solution.

Last week, the U.S. Senate defeated the Obama administration’s gun-control proposals.

AP/Toby Talbot

Before the Vermont House closes the legislative session sometime next month, lawmakers could still vote on a bill that would change the way food sold in Vermont is labeled.

Time is short, but a key House committee turned quickly this week to genetically engineered organisms – or GMOs – as it considered a bill that would require labeling of such products. If passed, though, the measure could become a legal challenge.

AP/Toby Talbot

The Air Force said on Thursday it will delay the release of its environmental impact statement for basing new F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington.

The Air Force says the final analysis won’t be released until the fall so that it can consider 2010 census data, and so that another public comment period can be held this summer.

A bill in the House that would guarantee paid sick days for Vermont workers gets a public hearing at the Statehouse in Montpelier from 6-8 p.m.

The bill proposes giving workers one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked up to 56 total hours – or seven days – each year.

Organizers hope tonight’s testimony will encourage House lawmakers to set committee hearings before the end of the legislative session.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

While the Vermont House backed a proposal Wednesday to change how the state selects its top military leader, it resoundingly rejected a number of amendments aimed to bring the debate over basing the F-35 fighter jet in South Burlington to the House floor.

The House voted to advance a bill that would replace a vote by a joint session of the Legislature with a 10-person panel charged with vetting potential candidates who have certain military credentials.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

Senator Patrick Leahy is responding today to a report that Vermont has already received preliminary approval to base the F-35 fighter jets, months before any official announcement from the Air Force is made public.

Pages