Matthew F. Smith

Producer, Vermont Edition

Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as a producer for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined VPR in October 2017.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years in China and the U.S. before pursuing a career in journalism.

State's attorneys in Windsor and Chittenden County are working with Vermont Law School's Center For Justice Reform on efforts to expunge misdemeanor marijuana offenses from the criminal records of Vermonters.
MmeEmil / iStock

On July 1 Vermont's marijuana laws will allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate small quantities of the drug for personal use. But possession under two ounces has been a misdemeanor offense in Vermont, which means thousands of Vermonters will have criminal records for offenses that will soon be considered legal in the state. Now Vermont Law School is working with states attorneys in two counties to facilitate expunging those offenses from Vermonters' criminal records.

Vermont lawmakers are creating a way to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. But how will the system ultimately work?
eyegelb / iStock

Vermont is embarking on an ambitious experiment to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs by importing cheaper medications from Canada. State lawmakers and the governor passed the proposal into law in mid-May, but the details - and federal approval - still need to be worked out. How will the plan actually work?

Gov. Phil Scott called a special session, which started this week, after vowing to veto the state budget passed by lawmakers.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The acrimony in Montpelier has been clear for weeks as Gov. Phil Scott stuck to his promise not to sign the budget passed by lawmakers. Now elected officials are back in Montpelier for a special session to resolve the budget impasse, but with familiar arguments on both sides of the divide, are they any closer to an agreement?

Author Loung Ung, right, talks with "Vermont Edition" host Jane Lindholm before the students in Essex High School's Global Leadership Program.
Anna Ste. Marie / VPR

Author Loung Ung was just five years old when communist revolutionaries known as the Khmer Rouge took control of her home country of Cambodia. Nearly a quarter of the population died in the ensuing genocide. But she survived, eventually making her way to Vermont. She recently returned to her alma mater to speak with students as part of Essex High School's Global Leadership Program. 

The Project ECHO telemedicine program lets teams of specialists work with primary care physicians to bring their expertise to patients in rural areas.
Intel Free Press / Wikimedia

Patients in rural Vermont seeking treatment for pain often face time-consuming travel to large regional hospitals and long wait times to see specialists. Now UVM's medical school is using a new telemedicine program to connect those specialists with primary care practitioners in rural areas to help patients get better care more quickly.

Marijuana seeds (left), a young marijuana plant (center), and a mature flowering marijuana plant. Cultivating a limited number of mature plants will be legal in Vermont on July 1, but getting started raises legal questions.
Wikimedia

Starting July 1, Vermonters 21 and older can legally posses an ounce of marijuana and cultivate a small number of the plants. But marijuana sales and distribution remain illegal under state law, so if you're interested, how can you get the seeds to get started? We're talking about how to legally start growing under Vermont's marijuana laws.

Newly exiled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Kazakhstan in 1953 (left); Solzhenitsyn  with his sons in Cavendish in August 1976; Solzhenitsyn at his self-made writing table in Cavendish during the 1980s.
Cavendish Historical Society, courtesy

His novels earned him the 1970 Nobel Prize in literature and exile from the Soviet Union, but in Vermont Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is also know for the nearly 20 years he lived and worked in the town of Cavendish. We're looking at the Russian writer's works, his time in the state and what his novels say to readers in 2018.

Facing a $58 million funding gap, Vermont lawmakers and the governor have competing proposals to pay for Vermont's schools in the final weeks of the legislative session.
Miatagirl / iStock

How will Vermont fund its schools? Gov. Scott's new plan would use nearly $60 million dollars in one-time funds to keep property taxes down, but Democrats in the legislature balked at a plan they say has a number of problems. 

A family photo of Suzanne Bombardier, the 14-year-old victim of a 1980 cold case murder.
Antioch Police Department

People around the country have been fascinated by the story of the Golden State Killer, the research by the late true-crime writer Michelle McNamara, and the arrest of a suspect in the decades-long mystery back in April. But one Vermont College of Fine Arts student's writing about a different California cold case generated interest of its own that caught investigator's attention and eventually an arrest.

LGBTQ Vermonters can face unique challenges and needs in rural areas.
ukayacan / iStock

Vermont has been seen as a leader in equal rights for LGBTQ people, but queer Vermonters living in rural areas can face unique challenges, from accessing healthcare to aging well as a queer senior to finding support networks. We're talking about the needs and experiences of LGBTQ Vermonters in rural communities. 

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

As Vermont's sole statesman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Peter Welch deals with consequential issues that affect his home state and the country.

Gov. Phil Scott and legislative leaders are still at odds over key budget issues, including an estimated $58 million needed for education funding.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

Lawmakers are working on finalizing a budget in the closing weeks of the legislative session, but key disagreements on school funding and other programs have yet to be resolved. We're looking at how the state budget is taking shape and where lawmakers and Gov. Scott's administration disagree.

State and Essex Police at Essex High School during an April 2017 school lockdown.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

School shootings across the country—and a potentially averted shooting in Vermont—spurred Gov. Phil Scott to call for a security review for all Vermont schools. We're looking at the assessment's results and the holes it identified in school safety. 

A bill proposing new regulations on toxic substances was vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott, but lawmakers are voting again and could override the veto.
Antoine2K / iStock

A bill that could change how Vermont regulates toxic substances was vetoed by Gov. Scott. Now lawmakers are working on a possible veto override. We're looking at what the bill could mean for Vermont, the reasons behind the governor's veto and the prospect of a possible override. 

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

Vermont State Police are emphasizing less-lethal weapons and tactics as they review their use-of-force procedures, as well as the policies that dictate when and how officers return to the job after critical incidents. But while some new weapons, tools and administrative changes have already been adopted, the policies surrounding use of force are still being reviewed.

What can state agencies like DAIL, the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, do to help Vermonters age well?
AleksandarNakic / iStock

The coming decades will bring pivotal demographic changes to Vermont as baby boomers retire in greater numbers and continue to get older. We're talking with DAIL—the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living—about their plans to help Vermonters "age well."

Rotor rust, tire tread, and other common issues could be eligible for advisory warnings under the DMV's updated vehicle inspection manual.
PxHere (left), Pixabay (middle), MeganLynnette via Flickr (right)

Vermont vehicle inspections went electronic last year, and while the rules for road-worthiness never changed, many reported headaches and failed inspections. Now the DMV's rules are getting an update. We're talking about the new inspection rules and what it means for Vermont drivers.

Opponents and supporters of Vermont's new gun laws made thier voices heard at Gov. Scott's public signing of the bills into law.
Chip Allen / Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott has signed three gun control measures into law, the first such rules for Vermont. We want to hear your thoughts on these laws and how you think they'll shape Vermont. 

From 1854 to 1929, poor and homeless orphans and foundlings from major U.S. cities were trained to rural parts of the country.
Kansas State Historical Society, courtesy

How did you or your family first come to Vermont? Maybe your family traces its history beyond memory. Perhaps you’re a transplant who remembers the first footstep in the Green Mountain State. St. Michael's College professor emeritus Daniel Bean has researched the unique history of a small group of Vermonters: orphans and foundlings rounded up in major cities and brought here on what he calls "orphan trains."

What's blockchain? The unqiue computer network is a new piece of financial technology that Vermont lawmakers believe offers big opportunities for the state.
MF3d / iStock

Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. These and other buzzwords make headlines in the world of finance, but underlying it all is a new piece of financial technology called blockchain. And state lawmakers are betting this new technology could be Vermont's next moneymaker, much like the state's captive insurance market.

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