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

Chittenden Couty Sen. Chris Pearson says Vermont could improve enforcement of state water quality laws by allowing citizens to sue polluters.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As environmental advocates grow increasingly worried about whether government regulators will adequately enforce new water quality rules, some lawmakers want to give regular citizens the authority to hold polluters to account.

A complaint filed by Ismina Francois in 2016 has put a magnifying glass on working conditions for employees of color at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Berlin.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

After allegations of racial harassment at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin, Gov. Phil Scott says his administration is reviewing workplace conditions at the state-run facility.

Former Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand told lawmakers this week that the advent of marijauna legalization in Vermont should compel lawmakers to revisit the expungement process for misdemeanor cannabis convictions.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

After making some drastic changes to the state’s cannabis laws earlier this year, some lawmakers are now asking whether they should make it easier for people to expunge their old misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

A complaint filed by Ismina Francois in 2016 has put a magnifying glass on working conditions for employees of color at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Berlin.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

A new investigation paints a disturbing picture of workplace harassment at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin, where some African American staff members say they've been subjected to "offensive and racist comments" by co-workers.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

When Act 148 — the state's Universal Recycling Law — unanimously passed in 2012, it put a lot of new requirements on the state's waste haulers. Two years shy of the next key implementation deadline, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee is considering a bill that would ease some of those requirements.

Commissioner of Taxes Kaj Samsom, Secretary of Administration Susanne Young and Commissioner of Finance Adam Greshin, from left, walk reporters through a proposed tax overhaul that they say will avoid a $30 million tax hike on Vermonters this year.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The administration of Gov. Phil Scott unveiled a proposed income tax overhaul Friday that it says will protect middle-class Vermonters from an otherwise significant tax hike in 2018.

provided by Christine Hallquist

A longtime Vermont utility executive says she’s strongly considering running for governor as a Democrat.

Christine Hallquist, the CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, says she’s been contemplating a bid to unseat Republican Gov. Phil Scott for months. But she says her experience at the women’s march in Montpelier earlier this month pushed her closer to a decision.

Nearly 1,000 people showed up at the Statehouse Tuesday evening to argue for and against proposed legislation that would allow police to temporarily remove guns from someone arrested or cited for domestic violence.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

In the latest testament to the enduring salience of the politics of firearms in Vermont, nearly 1,000 people turned out at a public hearing in the Statehouse Tuesday evening to offer impassioned arguments for — and against — proposed gun legislation.

Will Lambek, left, and Enrique Balcazar, with Migrant Justice, say the new fair and impartial policing policy opens to door to increased collaboration between local police and federal immigration authorities.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Migrant farmworkers say a new policy to encourage bias-free policing in Vermont could actually end up increasing cooperation between state law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

Bradford Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas speaks at the Vermont Statehouse on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

As the #MeToo movement continues to illuminate the prevalence of harassment and abuse that many women face in the workplace, a tri-partisan group of Vermont legislators is trying to make it easier for victims to report bad behavior.

The rate of incarceration in Vermont has dropped by a third over the last decade, according to a new survey by Pew Charitable Trusts. But officials with the Vermont ACLU says the state still jails far more people than it needs to.
txking / iStock

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign that will try to cut the state's halve the prison population in Vermont.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, center, flanked by Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, say they have concerns with Gov. Phil Scott's approach to the issue of cost-containment in public schools.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

With an executive branch in Republican hands, and a Legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, ideological conflict is part and parcel of state government these days. And it became clear Tuesday afternoon where that partisan divide is widest.

Secretary of Administration Susanne Young and Commissioner of Finance Adam Greshin told reporters Tuesday that the governor's fiscal year 2019 budget plan ties rate of growth in state spending to the increase in Vermonters' wages.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

In a budget proposal that one administration official describes as having “no bells … and no whistles,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott is calling for a $5.9 billion spending plan that pegs the rate of growth in the budget to the increase in Vermonters’ incomes in recent years.

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Torti, at the podium, joined environmental and municipal leaders last week to call for a per-parcel fee, on every property owner in Vermont, to fund clean water projects.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Environmental advocates aren’t the only voices pressuring Montpelier to come up with a long-term funding mechanism for water quality projects. Members of the state's business community are also joining the call.

Gov. Phil Scott sitting at a table with papers on it, looking at the camera.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

Vermont has become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana through an act of the Legislature.

Gov. Phil Scott, seen here in his Montpelier office on the one year anniversary into his two-year gubernatorial term.
Henry Epp / VPR

Gov. Phil Scott says he expects to sign the marijuana legalization bill that lawmakers sent him this week before Monday. But supporters of the legislation won’t get to celebrate at a public signing ceremony.

According to campaign finance disclosures, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has raised more than twice as much money toward his 2018 reelection bid than any of the other four candidates challenging him for the office.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

A mandatory reduction in staff at public schools across Vermont is among the list of “ideas” that Gov. Phil Scott is asking lawmakers to consider as his administration looks to stave off a projected increase in next year’s statewide property tax rate.

The Vermont Clean Water Act will hold more than 1,000 properties across the state to stricter stormwater standards, but environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to undermine some key provisions.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Environmental advocates say the Scott administration is trying to dismantle key provisions in a 2015 law that set out rigorous new water quality standards across Vermont.

Vermont Secretary of Human Services Al Gobeille, pictured here in Sept. 2017
Bob Kinzel / VPR File

This week, the Trump administration authorized states to require some people to work in order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits. But Vermont Secretary of Human Services Al Gobeille says the Scott administration has no immediate plans to institute the employment mandate.

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears is looking to modify Vermont's domestic terrorism laws as a way to deal with future cases of violence
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Legislation that would have enabled safe injection sites for opioid users looked like it might be gaining momentum in Montpelier this year, but a key Senate committee is now backing away from the plan.

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