Peter Hirschfeld

Reporter

Peter Hirschfeld covers state government and the Vermont Legislature. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse.

Hirschfeld is a leading Vermont journalist who has covered the Statehouse since 2009, most recently as bureau chief for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. He began his career in 2003, working as a local sports reporter and copy editor at the Times Argus.

Ways to Connect

The issue of whether to levy a tax on carbon pollution hasn't gained much traction yet in Montpelier. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsiblity is trying to broaden support for the concept.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The idea of a tax on gasoline and heating oil is politically fraught, to say the least, but one Vermont business group says it’s time for elected officials to embrace the carbon tax.

John Cotter, Margaret Cheney and Tom Knauer, from left, of the Public Utility Commission. On Thursday, a legislative panel approved the commission's proposal for stricter sound limits for wind turbines.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

In approving stricter sound limits for ridgeline wind turbines Thursday afternoon, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules has managed to upset both sides on the wind energy debate.

Sen. Christopher Bray is backing a per parcel fee on all property in Vermont to help fund water quality projects
courtesy / the Vermont Department of Health

A government official’s decision to bring armed law-enforcement officers to maintain order at a public meeting on water quality has raised questions about the use of force.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Vermont’s secretary of natural resources is out with a new plan to fund costly water quality improvements, but legislators have some concerns about where she wants the money to come from.

Some of the principal figures behind civil unions and same-sex marriage in Vermont celebrate the unveiling of a historic marker honoring passage of the laws.
Stefan Hard / The Times Argus

A historic marker rising prominently from the Statehouse lawn now commemorates Vermont’s outsized role in the history of gay rights.

Colin Benjamin, director of the Office of Professional Regulation, says an overhaul of rules governing alcohol and drug counselors will increase the supply of addiction-treatment specialists in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As substance abuse treatment agencies struggle to find qualified workers, state officials are trying to make it easier to become an alcohol and drug counselor in Vermont.

John Cotter, Margaret Cheney and Tom Knauer, from left, of the Public Utility Commission. On Thursday, a legislative panel approved the commission's proposal for stricter sound limits for wind turbines.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

The future of ridgeline wind energy in Vermont hinges in part on proposed sound standards for large turbines, but a special legislative committee is struggling to decide whether or not to accept the new rules.

Attorney General TJ Donovan says a lawsuit filed against the state of Vermont, for its alleged role in EB-5 frauds in the Northeast Kingdom, is without merit.
Oliver Parini / VPR file

Attorney General TJ Donovan is asking a judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit that seeks to hold the state of Vermont liable for its failure to stop alleged EB-5 frauds in the Northeast Kingdom.

An empty marijuana jar at the Canna Care Docs clinic in Burlington. The company opened its first location in Vermont last month, and offers patients a new avenue to medical marijuana.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Two weeks ago, a new health clinic opened its doors in Burlington to do in Vermont what it has already done in several other states: bring thousands of new patients into the state’s medical cannabis program.

A federal program that provides low-cost health insurance for Vermont children expired at the end of last month, but officials here say the state isn’t feeling a financial pinch just yet.

The issue of whether to levy a tax on carbon pollution hasn't gained much traction yet in Montpelier. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsiblity is trying to broaden support for the concept.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

A group of lawmakers has begun laying the political ground work for an increase in Vermont’s minimum wage. But legislators are struggling to find support in the business community for a plan that would take it all the way to $15 an hour.

Angela Evancie / VPR file

Vermont is on the verge of its second major teacher strike of the young school year after the South Burlington Educators' Association voted Friday to walk off the job Oct. 4 if they don't have a new contract in place before then.

Members of the Marijuana Advisory Commission met for the first time Thursday in Waterbury. Administration officials say it's now a matter of how, not if, Vermont legalizes marijuana.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Top officials in the administration of Republican Gov. Phil Scott say marijuana legalization is now inevitable in Vermont, and that they’ve been instructed to craft the framework for what will one day become an above-board cannabis market in the state.

The co-founders of the Phytoscience Institute, Willy Cats-Baril, Dr. Kalev Freeman, Monique McHenry, Tom Grace and Robin Grace, from left, say they started the firm to improve medical cannabis research. The institute won a license to open a dispensary.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

The Phytoscience Institute in Waterbury won a license last week to become the state's fifth medical marijuana dispensary.  Competition for the new dispensary license was fierce, with five applicants vying for the coveted registration certificate. But the CEO of the winning cannabis research firm says he doesn't expect to profit from the dispensaries themselves.

Burlington Rep. Kurt Wright, left, and Caledonia County Sen. Joe Benning held a press conference at Burlington City Hall Monday. They say they'll push for legislation next year that would ban teacher strikes.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The Burlington teacher strike is over, but it’s reignited a political debate that will run well into the next legislative session.

The Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. In a report to the federal government, Vermont disclosed that 17 inmates were sexually victimized in state-run prisons last year.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Seventeen inmates were “sexually victimized” in Vermont prisons last year, according to a recently filed disclosure by the Vermont Department of Corrections. 

Fran Brock, president of the Burlington Education Association, center, stands with picketing teachers outside Hunt Middle School Monday. Brock says elementary teachers need more time during the day to work with students, and develop lesson plans.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A teacher strike that began last Thursday has emptied school classrooms in Vermont’s largest city, but the head of the Burlington teachers’ union says the walk-out isn’t about money or benefits.

Montpellier's Ellyes Skhiri, right, vies for the ball against Lyon's Rafael Pereira Da Silva during a French League One game in Decines on Sept. 21, 2016. The Montpellier soccer team is sending a shipment of misspelled jerseys to Montpelier, Vermont.
Laurent Cipriani / Associated Press

In 1781, the city of Montpelier, Vermont, got its name from Montpellier, France. Now, Vermont’s capital is about to get something else from that French city: a shipment of soccer jerseys.

Aides to Vermont's congressional delegation briefed lawmakers Thursday on the federal budget situation. Kathryn Becker Van Haste, center, says a key piece of funding for a widely used health care program is set to expire at the end of the month.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont has so far dodged most of the federal spending cuts that many state lawmakers had feared, but the state is potentially only weeks away from a  severe hit to a widely used health care program.

Steve Agius is refuge manager at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Gov. Phil Scott has told the federal government that he has "concerns" about plans to expand the refuge.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A proposal to expand a U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge in northeast Vermont has stirred up long-running tensions between conservationists and the Vermont timber industry.

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