Government & Politics

Events this fall in Ferguson, Missouri, have vividly brought home to American living rooms the realization that police departments in many jurisdictions have become highly militarized, and instead of looking like the friendly neighborhood policeman, now resemble units of the Army’s 101st Airborne parachuted into the center of Afghanistan to find and kill the Taliban.

Last spring, the legislature passed a law requiring foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMO's, to be labeled. That labeling will go into effect in 2016 and the Attorney General's office has been working to come up with rules for what the labels will look like.

The state has just released a draft proposal of those rules and is holding informal meetings around the state this week to get public feedback.

Vermont’s state employees are going to be hit with a nearly 18 percent increase in their health care premiums. The increase is taking place because more state employees than projected were treated last year for cancer and heart disease. The increase came as a shock because the VSEA plan had no increases in the past two years.  

Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman says the increase is directly related to much higher than expected use of expensive health care services.

The sale of IBM’s chip-making business looks to be good news for the approximately 4,000 Vermont workers employed at the company’s plant in Essex Junction. But the change in ownership will reignite a longstanding debate over whether Vermont is doing enough to retain and grow jobs in the state.

IBM has always been a flashpoint in Vermont politics. It’s a massive employer here, by the standards of this tiny state. And policy makers frequently stop to ask: is Vermont doing enough to keep employers like Big Blue happy?

Congressman Peter Welch says it would be a mistake to implement a travel ban from West Africa as a way to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States.

Welch says the best public health strategy right now is to deploy  U.S. troops in Africa as part of an effort to contain this deadly disease at its source.

The response by the White House to the spread of the Ebola virus in this country has come under the close scrutiny of Congress.

I was not a student radical in the 1960s, but I saw some radical stuff. I saw demonstrators throwing rocks through windows in downtown Berkeley and police swooping down with tear gas and billy clubs. I didn’t see when police, a year later, shot and killed an innocent bystander, blinded another and wounded even more.

I was there when students occupied the student center at my campus, but when my friend and I wondered whether we ought to get ourselves arrested, we looked at each other and said, “Nah.”

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Milne has unveiled an education plan that he says will reduce property tax burdens and make higher education more affordable for Vermont students.

The key to the plan is convincing local school boards to make significant cuts to their budgets by reducing staffing levels.

Milne’s press conference in the library of Spaulding High School in Barre marked the first time in his campaign that he’s met with a group of reporters to discuss a major policy issue.

The Vermont Democratic Party is among the most powerful political organizations in the state. And its vast electoral resources have been the difference between victory and defeat for many candidates.

But not everyone with a ‘D’ before their name gets to enjoy all the benefits that the Democratic Party has to offer.

Among the 435 representatives in the US House, only one represents the interests of the Green Mountain State. That position has been held by Democrat Peter Welch since 2007. This year he faces a challenge from Republican Mark Donka and Liberty Union candidate Matthew Andrews. His opponents argue that it’s time for new blood in Washington. All three candidates meet in a live hour-long debate on VPR.

Governor Peter Shumlin has announced he will appoint Judge Harold "Duke" Eaton, Jr. to serve on the Vermont Supreme Court.

Eaton fills the seat left open by Justice Geoffrey Crawford's appointment to the federal district court.

Shumlin called Eaton a judge of remarkable compassion and said he has a deep understanding of Vermont's judiciary.

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