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

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.

Sen. Debbie Ingram, at podium, was among several Vermont senators Friday to call for legislation that would ban employers from asking applicants about their salary histories.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bipartisan group of female senators has introduced legislation that they say will help close the pay gap between men and women.

Tim Fair, center, talks to a prospective customer at a cannabis industry event in the Statehouse cafeteria Tuesday. Fair, a lawyer, says the legalization bill passed by lawmakers this week sets the stage for a more robust marijuana sector in the future.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The marijuana legalization bill that Gov. Phil Scott is expected to sign in the next few days won’t create the above-board commercial market that many pot-reform advocates had been pushing for, but cannabis entrepreneurs say it’s a step in the right direction.

Sara Teachout, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, told legislators this week that the state can offset the loss of $12 million in federal revenues by changing the premium structure for certain health insurance plans.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont insurance companies say they’ve found a way to offset the effects of an executive order issued last year that would otherwise cost the state $12 million annually in lost revenue.

AP/Lisa Rathke

Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams, who won acclaim, and later scrutiny, for his actions at the scene of a high-profile murder in downtown Barre in 2015, says he’s resigning his post to deal with psychological issues related to witnessing the crime.

Sarah Evans, who formerly managed a safe injection site in Vancouver, told lawmakers that the facilities are associated with a reduction in overdoses, and an increase in addicts seeking treatment.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The rising toll of opioid addiction has policymakers looking for new ways to save lives, and Vermont lawmakers are giving serious consideration to a bill that would open the door to supervised drug injection sites.

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.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott used his State of State Address Thursday to telegraph a potentially dramatic proposal for education funding in Vermont, saying he stands ready to block a 7-cent jump in next year’s statewide property tax rates.

House Speaker MItzi Johnson welcomed lawmakers back to the Statehouse Wednesday morning. Legislative leaders have vowed to move ahead with major policy initiatives in 2018, but they're in many cases at odds over how to proceed.
Kate Alfin Johnson / For VPR

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe say they expect decisive action on major policy fronts during the 2018 legislative session, but as the session gets underway, it’s already clear that it’ll be tough to find consensus within the Legislature on many of those issues, let alone with Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Looking up at the golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse on a cloudy day.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Citizen legislators from across Vermont return to the Statehouse Wednesday morning for the second half of the legislative biennium, and many lawmakers are preparing for an unusually busy year in Montpelier.

Whiskey bottle pouring into a glass with ice.
igorr1 / iStock

Prohibition might have been repealed in 1933, but modern-day bootleggers are still sidestepping state liquor laws. Now Vermont officials want heavier penalties for people trafficking booze from neighboring New Hampshire.

Vermont Statehouse dome on a cloudy day.
Kirk Carapezza / VPR/file

State revenues are the life blood of Vermont government, but projecting just how much money will be coming into state coffers next year could be more difficult than usual.

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

Vermont is about to generate the cash needed to pay for one of the biggest affordable housing initiatives in recent history.

undated photo of Lake Champlain frozen over.
DearMsChris / iStock

Dangerously low temperatures have prompted state officials to institute a number of special measures this week, including the opening of a temporary shelter in Rutland for Wednesday evening.

Republican Randy Brock, seen here in 2011 announcing his ultimately unsuccessful bid for governor, has been appointed by Gov. Phil Scott to fill Franklin County's vacant seat in the Vermont Senate.
AP File/Toby Talbot

Randy Brock, the former Republican state auditor who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2012, and for lieutenant governor last year, is making a return to Vermont’s political scene.

Addison County Sen. Chris Bray, left, says Vermont could get more electric vehicles on the road by providing a financial incentive to prospective buyers.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Financial incentives for people who buy electric vehicles will be among several clean energy proposals up for debate in Montpelier next year.

Gov. Phil Scott says the commission's findings bolster his case for a statewide teacher contract.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

One of the fiercest political debates of the last legislative session is set for a replay in 2018 after a special commission recommended this week that Vermont overhaul the collective bargaining system at public schools.

Jewelene Griffin, with Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice, has been giving community presentations to spread awareness about the availability of hospice services.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Hospice care is gaining in popularity nationally, but Vermonters have been slow to embrace the trend. So one local hospice agency is trying to change the way people here think about death and dying.

Vermont inmate Roger Brown died in prison in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania where he and more than 200 other Vermont inmates are housed because of a lack of in-state prison space.
Marc Levy / Associated Press file

For the third time since October, a Vermont inmate recently held at a state prison in Pennsylvania has died.

Gov. Phil Scott says the commission's findings bolster his case for a statewide teacher contract.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe say they’re considering potentially significant changes to the process used to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the Vermont Statehouse.

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