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

Gov. Phil Scott signed the gun bill into law at contentious ceremony at the Statehouse in April. A gun rights group says several provisions in the new law violate the Vermont Constitution.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

In the last four days, 41 bills have become law in Vermont. Here's a breakdown of what they are, what they do and when they go into effect.

Tax Commissioner Kaj Samsom, center, said in an email to employees Monday that their "anxiety" and "stress" over the prospect of a government shutdown is unncessary.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Last week, after telling lawmakers he’d be vetoing their state budget proposal, Gov. Phil Scott sent a letter to legislative leadership, insisting the two sides “are very close to an agreement.”

It appears Scott may have misjudged the severity of the divide.

Gov. Phil Scott says an anti-racism bill passed by the Legislature contains an unconstitutional provision. But though he vetoed the bill, he says he'll move forward voluntarily with an almost identical initiative.
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Lawmakers head back to the Statehouse Wednesday morning for a special legislative session, but leaders in the House and Senate don’t anticipate an action-packed agenda this week.

Gov. Phil Scott in April before signing three pieces of gun legislation into law. Today, he chose instead to veto legislation sent to him by the legislature.
Chip Allen / Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott vetoed four bills Tuesday, including one that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2024. Scott also vetoed legislation that would have created a mandatory paid family leave program in Vermont. 

Lawmakers adjourned the legislative session on Saturday, but they'll be back in Montpelier soon to try to resolve a budget impasse with Gov. Phil Scott.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Gov. Phil Scott says he'll call lawmakers back to Montpelier for a special session next Wednesday, but the budget impasse between the Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers shows no signs of letting up.

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

Democratic lawmakers have been severely critical of Gov. Phil Scott’s plan to avoid an increase in statewide property tax rates, but the Republican governor has also struggled to win buy-in from members of his own party.

Gov. Phil Scott addresses the Vermont Senate after lawmakers adjourned the legislative session Saturday night. Scott, who is expected to veto the state budget, says there's a "fundamental disagreement" between him and legislators.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The $5.8 billion budget passed by the Vermont Legislature late Saturday night is supposed to fund government through the middle of 2019, but the spending plan will more likely have a shelf life of only a few days.

The end of the legislative session in Vermont is getting closer and closer, but the fight between Republican Gov. Phil Scott and the Democratic-controlled legislature seems to be intensifying.

Gov. Phil Scott says an anti-racism bill passed by the Legislature contains an unconstitutional provision. But though he vetoed the bill, he says he'll move forward voluntarily with an almost identical initiative.
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Gov. Phil Scott’s five-year education plan may have landed with a thud in the Vermont Statehouse, but the administration hopes to have better luck with people outside the Montpelier political bubble.

The association that represents Vermont ski areas says a consumer protection bill passed by lawmakers this session would hurt the outdoor recreation industry. Backers of the legislation say it will protect Vermonters from unfair contract practices.
Nina Keck / VPR

Vermont lawmakers Tuesday gave final approval to a first-in-the-nation consumer protection bill, but critics say the legislation could severely disrupt the state’s outdoor recreation industry.

Headshot of Brenda Siegel, Democratic candidate for governor
Brenda Siegel, Courtesy

The field of candidates in the state's Democratic gubernatorial primary grew to four this week when Newfane resident Brenda Siegel announced her candidacy for governor over the weekend.

Gov. Phil Scott listens Monday as economists deliver the latest revenue forecast. Scott wants to use this year's budget surplus to buy down property tax rates next year. Democratic lawmakers say the money can be put to better uses.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Elected officials in Montpelier learned Monday they’ll end the fiscal year with a $44 million budget surplus. But the unexpected windfall hasn’t ended the acrimony between Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Democratic lawmakers.

The House chamber of the Vermont Legislature
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Democratic lawmakers in Vermont have been working hard on two big policy initiatives this session. One bill would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The other would establish a paid family and medical leave program for most employees.

But as the end of the session nears, both of those bills may suddenly be in jeopardy.

Millard Cox, of Ripton, speaks at a public hearing in the Vermont Statehouse in January. Cox is among the health care reform advocates urging the Legislature to adopt a publicly funded system for universal primary care.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

It’s been more than three years since then-Gov. Peter Shumlin abandoned his pledge to create a universal health care system in Vermont, but advocates are working this session to reignite the embers of the single-payer flame.

Lawmakers hold up the "Honor and Remember" flag during a bill signing ceremony Thursday. The flag will honor Vermonters who died as a result of their military service.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermonters who died as a result of their military service will soon have a new flag flying in their honor.

An empty classroom with desks and a chalkboard.
maroke / iStock

Gov. Phil Scott’s latest plan to curb costs in the public school system has received a chilly response from Democratic lawmakers — and organizations that represent school boards, superintendents and teachers in Vermont are also concerned about the governor’s proposal.

At his campaign launch in Barre in May, Democrat James Ehlers touted his policy agenda as the most progressive of the candidates seeking the governor's seat in 2018.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Standing before a crowd of about 50 supporters in Barre Tuesday evening, Democrat James Ehlers formally launched his bid for governor.  

Gov. Scott delivered his 2018 budget address before a joint session of the Vermont Legislature.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR/file

The administration of Gov. Phil Scott says Vermont can reduce payroll expenses in public schools by more than $250 million over the next five years, without imposing a legislative mandate that requires districts to adhere to new staffing ratios.

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

Administration officials say Gov. Phil Scott will unveil a plan Tuesday to plug a nearly $60 million hole in the state’s education fund.

The exterior of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on a blue-sky day.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

An eleventh-hour push to resurrect legislation that would have created a legal market for retail marijuana sales fizzled out Friday, but many elected officials say it’s only a matter of time before Vermont decides to tax and regulate cannabis.

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