Vermont Legislature

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.

Ladybug crawls on a marijuana plant in Seattle on June 25, 2014.
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press File

Lawmakers are getting ready to debate and vote on the highly controversial issue of marijuana possession right at the start of the new session.

The Vermont Statehouse with snow around it.
Henry Epp / VPR File

While the weather outside has been frightfully cold, things are heating back up at the Statehouse with the start of the second year of the Legislature's biennium. And Vermont Edition will be there for the opening day.

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.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe says finding ways to reduce the cost of prescription drugs is a top priority for him in the new session
Angela Evancie / VPR FILE

Lawmakers return to Montpelier on Wednesday to tackle a number of key issues during the 2018 session. One bill that will receive close scrutiny could significantly reduce the cost of prescription drugs for all Vermonters.

Vermont lawmakers face a number of critical decisions in 2018, related to clean water funding, property tax reform, and whether to raise the minimum wage.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

Here's what issues are top of mind as the legislative session begins, and what's planned for the opening days.

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Prohibition might have been repealed in 1933, but modern-day bootleggers are still sidestepping state liquor laws.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.

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.

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.

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.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe say they're reviewing the policies that each chamber uses to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe have outlined their key priorities for the legislative session that begins in January.

Senate Health and Welfare chairwoman Sen. Claire Ayer is backing a plan to allow Vermont to purchase some prescription drugs from Canada at much lower costs
Angela Evancie / VPR File

A group of House and Senate lawmakers will try to lay the groundwork next year for a publicly funded system of universal primary care in Vermont.

The Vermont Supreme Court. The Vermont Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man who left KKK recruitment flyers at the Burlington homes of two women of color. The court said the state failed to prove the action constituted an immediate threat.
John Dillon / VPR File

Who is legally recognized as a parent? That's the question at the heart of a recent Vermont Supreme Court decision that a family law expert says exposes the gaps in Vermont's laws that affect modern families.

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

The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation says he’ll push for more stringent seatbelt laws during the next legislative session.

House Ways and Means chairwoman Janet Ancel is hopeful that this is the year for lawmakers to consider a new plan to fund education
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The chairwoman of the House Committee on Ways and Means says changes in the federal tax code could force some tough decisions for Vermont lawmakers next year.

Chittenden Sen. Chris Pearson says Vermont can reduce carbon emissions and stimulate the economy by increasing the price of gas and home heating oil, and lowering electric rates.
Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Backers of the latest proposal for a carbon tax in Vermont say lawmakers can increase the price of gasoline and home heating oil without inflicting financial stress on residents and businesses.

Gov. Phil Scott says it would be possible to avoid a statewide property tax increase by mandating a higher student to staff ratio
skynesher / iStock

Lawmakers are facing a situation in 2018 that they usually try to avoid: supporting a significant increase in the state's property tax rate in an election year.

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

A wave of new allegations against members of Congress has prompted a sweeping review of sexual harassment policies in the nation’s capital. But in Montpelier, it’s a previously undisclosed incident from this past April that state lawmakers are trying to learn from.

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