Government & Politics

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

The Vermont House has given initial approval to a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to administer a saliva test that would indicate the presence of certain drugs, including marijuana.

A graph from the Drug Poisoning (Overdose) Fatalities Report released Thursday shows accidental deaths involving heroin and fetanyl in Vermont. The report notes that 2016 and 2017 data are preliminary. Find the report here:
Vermont Department of Health, Courtesy

The number of accidental overdose deaths in Vermont involving the synthetic drug fentanyl increased significantly last year, according to a new report.

The Vermont Air National Guard is preparing to base F-35 fighters jets in Vermont in the fall of 2019. A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this town meeting day aims to stop that action.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this Town Meeting Day would advise the City Council to request that F-35 fighter jets not be based at Burlington International Airport — but the Vermont Air National Guard says they're still getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft.

We're talking with Vermont gun owners about how their use of firearms informs their views on gun laws and gun control.
artas / iStock

Conversations about firearms and gun control are often dominated by extreme views, leaving many in the middle whose voices aren't heard. That includes voices informed by their own gun ownership. We're talking with Vermont gun owners about recent shifts in the discussion around guns and our gun laws. 

Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, seen here on the Senate floor in a 2016 file photo, says the extreme risk bill approved by the Vermont Senate Wednesday could prevent acts of gun violence.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

As lawmakers nationwide consider new ways to get guns out of the hands of dangerous people, the Vermont Senate has advanced a bill that would make it easier for police to seize firearms from people who pose an "extreme risk" to themselves or others.

In 1981, a year after the Religious Right abandoned Jimmy Carter, a born-again evangelical Christian, for Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham remarked, “It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

Jared Cadwell, the Fayston selectboard chairman, holds papers at a desk and looks over the town's Town Meeting Day warning in the town's municpal building.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

If you take a quick scan at this year's Town Meeting Day warnings, you won't find too many ambitious projects that require long-term borrowing. Vermont town officials say ongoing debates in Washington and Montpelier are making it hard to plan too far into the future.

courtesy, Brenda Patoine; courtesy, Christine for Vermont

Two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor are carving out some early distinctions in their approaches to campaign finance, and fiscal oversight of state government.

As soon as the smoke had cleared in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, the cry went up - how could such a rampage, claiming 17 lives, finally be prevented?

In foreground, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, right , talk after a meeting on gun legislation Tuesday.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont’s top elected officials have vowed to move ahead with new restrictions on gun ownership, but a debate between the House and Senate this week shows that finding consensus on firearms legislation will be easier said than done.

Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources

It’s been a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’: For years state officials have been expecting the destructive emerald ash borer to turn up in Vermont. Tuesday, the state announced it has found an infestation of the insect in part of the town of Orange.

Rep. Peter Welch wants House Republican leaders to hold a vote on several gun control proposals
AP/Toby Talbot

When it comes to taking action on gun control legislation, Rep. Peter Welch says he believes this time is different.

  Levi Sanders, Bernie Sanders' son, announced he is running for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.

Angela McDevitt is being credited with helping to thwart what could have been a deadly school shooting in Vermont.
Angela McDevitt

On the day a shooter in Florida killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, 18-year old Jack Sawyer of Poultney, Vermont was allegedly texting with his friend Angela McDevitt. "That's fantastic. 100% support it" he is reported to have written about the Parkland shooting. "It's just natural selection, taken up a notch."

Gun control advocates demonstrate at the State House in Montpelier, on Tuesday Feb. 20, 2018.
Wilson Ring / AP

The conversation around gun control in Vermont has changed significantly in the days following the arrest of an 18-year-old for allegedly plotting a mass shooting in Fair Haven. Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who had resisted any changes to the state's gun laws, now has presented a set of proposals to tighten them, and lawmakers are already taking action. We’re talking about what might happen.

Hartford won't be voting on designing a track for its high school this town meeting, despite a petition signed by more than enough voters. That has one petitioner taking the matter to court.
photoncatcher / iStock

At least a generation of runners has gone through the track program at Hartford High School since the community first started talking about building an official track. But despite a petition signed by hundreds of voters, there will be no track talk on the town meeting ballot this year.

Victoria Banerjee checks on a tank of wort, or unfermented beer, at Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont's craft brewers are asking lawmakers to update the state's franchise law because they say it unfairly benefits beer and wine distributors.

Sec. of State Jim Condos discusses how states like Vermont could be vulnerable to election meddling, and what's needed to secure future elections.
Toby Talbot / AP File

Thirteen Russians face indictments for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security identified more than 20 states whose voting systems were compromised by Russian hackers. As they face concerns over election integrity both inside and outside the ballot box, how are Vermont officials keeping future elections secure?

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

President Trump is speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. His comments come amid a debate about gun laws after a shooting a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Abby Hawkins and Victoria Quint, both 18-year-old seniors at Rutland High School are organizing a "March for Our Lives" in downtown Rutland on March 24 to coincide with a national march that day in Washington DC.
Nina Keck / VPR

High school students in Rutland say calls for better gun control by survivors of last week's deadly high school shooting in Florida have pushed them into action.

A small group has begun organizing a protest event in downtown Rutland, and they want middle and high school students across Vermont to join them.