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

The Vermont House has failed to override Governor Phil Scott’s veto of a bill that would have tightened regulations on toxic chemicals used in children’s products.

Commissioner of Finance Adam Greshin, right, and Brad James from the Agency of Education, second from right, brief lawmakers Monday on a plan that would try to reduce payroll costs in public schools by penalizing districts with higher staffing levels.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The Scott administration unveiled a new plan Monday to curb costs in the public education system by cutting payroll in local schools.

Jack Sawyer sits in Rutland Superior Court
Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press / Pool File

Rutland County State's Attorney Rose Kennedy has dismissed the four most serious charges against Jack Sawyer, saying a ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court has made prosecution “untenable.”

The Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak was one project invested in by foreign investors through the EB-5 program. The federal government has terminated the state-run Regional Center that oversees EB-5 projects in Vermont.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

A Vermont judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the state officials who oversaw allegedly fraudulent EB-5 projects in the Northeast Kingdom. 

 A gun rally drew more than a thousand people to Montpelier Saturday; some came in part to pick up a free high capacity magazine that will be banned under new legislation.
John Dillon / VPR File

A constitutional challenge of Vermont’s new ban on high-capacity magazines will hinge less on the Second Amendment than on Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution.

Julia Adams, a social studies teacher at Fair Haven Union High School, asked the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday the change the definition of what it means to "attempt" a crime.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

As Fair Haven Union High School prepares for the possible release of the teenager who allegedly planned to inflict mass casualties at the school, students from the school are asking lawmakers to update criminal statutes they say should have kept him behind bars.

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan says no charges will be filed against the police officers who shot and killed an alleged bank robber in Montpelier in January.

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

Elected officials in Vermont have historically paid a steep price for supporting gun control measures, but the politics of guns in a post-Parkland era may be shifting.

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

S.55, a bill that became the unexpected hot-button issue of the session so far, was signed into law Wednesday on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse.

Rep. David Deen, center, listens to testimony last week on a water quality bill. Deen, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife, says his committee may unveil a water quality funding plan this week.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

From the governor on down, just about every elected official in Montpelier says Vermont needs more money for water quality projects. And that’s where the agreement ends.

The issue of how to pay for water funding has turned into one of the most intractable policy debates of the 2018 legislative session.

Fan Club co-chairs, Elizabeth and James in the latest installment of News Done Right - Fan Club.
screenshot from the latest News Done Right video

In April of 2017, a little less than four months after the inauguration of Republican Phil Scott, Vermont’s new governor got himself an internet “fan club.”

Attorney General TJ Donovan says he backs legislation that would soften criminal penalties for simple drug possession.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

As Vermont looks for new ways to combat the problem of opioid addiction, House lawmakers are considering legislation that would soften criminal penalties for possession of heroin and other drugs.

Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore, left, says a federal rollback of fuel efficiency standards for vehicles sold in Vermont could thwart the state's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
John Dillon / VPR file

Vermont state officials say they'll vigorously oppose a move by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back fuel efficiency standards. 

Chandler Matson, left, and Russell Barr, standing, are suing the state of Vermont for its alleged complicity in the largest fraud in Vermont history.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The deadline by which a Stowe attorney promised to substantiate allegations of sexual misconduct by a Vermont government official has passed, but Russell Barr has yet to produce any evidence of the alleged crime.

Desks in a line in an empty classroom. Up close of one with books in it.
GlobalStock / iStock

Gov. Phil Scott said in a letter to the State Board of Education that experience with the public school system should "not necessarily" be a requirement for Vermont’s next secretary of education.

A 10-round, left, and 15-round magazine, center, and a semi-automatic handgun.
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Attorney General TJ Donovan says a proposed ban on high-capacity magazines would be difficult to enforce. Donovan says he thinks lawmakers should adopt the provision.

Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears says he believes the gun bills on which lawmakers generally agree will do more for public safety than the gun legislation that has been more divisive.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

S.55, a piece of firearms legislation, has quickly become the most divisive issue in Montpelier. But not all the proposed gun measures under consideration this year are proving so controversial.

UVM Professor of Economics Stephanie Seguino says traffic-stop data from 2015 show significant disparities in the way police treat black and Hispanic drivers.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Black and Hispanic drivers in Vermont are significantly more likely than whites to be searched by police during traffic stops, but less likely to be found with illegal contraband, according to a study released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Vermont.

House lawmakers gave final approval to a wide-ranging gun bill Tuesday night. The legislation heads now to the Vermont Senate, which is expected to hold a final vote before the end of the week.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The Vermont House of Representatives has given final approval to a slate of new gun restrictions.

The sign outside the Vermont Department of Public Safety headquarters.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

Commissioner of Public Safety Thomas Anderson says a 2014 investigation by the Vermont State Police’s Internal Affairs Unit found no evidence that a state official was arrested while on government business in China, as an attorney involved in a lawsuit against the state alleged.

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