Government & Politics

Vermont House members should be mindful of where they stand and walk during debates so they don't cross between members who are speaking and the presiding officer.

That was one tip First Assistant House Clerk William MaGill shared with lawmakers during a special decorum training session on Tuesday.

House leaders agreed to the session after an evening debate two weeks ago on the budget that was marked by some unorthodox debating tactics.

The Vermont Senate is expected to debate a bill that would move up the state's primary election to early August.

Vermont's primary used to be held in mid-September, before the 2010 election the date was moved to late August to ensure the secretary of state's office has time to produce general election ballots in time to meet federal deadlines. That included sending absentee ballots to overseas service members.

But Secretary of State Jim Condos said even more time is needed.

If the bill is passed by the full Legislature, the 2014 primary would be held on Aug. 5.

Voters in Ludlow are being called to the polls for a special town meeting vote Tuesday, May 7, to consider two spending items. The first question on the ballot seeks a $180,000 bond to finance the balance of a new fire truck.

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Toby Talbot / AP

The Vermont Senate has passed a bill that would give driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

With a nearly unanimous voice vote, state senators gave their final approval Tuesday morning to the measure that would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards for people living illegally in Vermont.

Toby Talbot / AP

A natural gas pipeline planned for Addison County has prompted dozens of individuals and organizations to seek a voice in the upcoming permit hearings. 

The groups include the state Agency of Agriculture, an association of fuel dealers, and towns located along the route.

Vermont Gas Systems wants to extend a pipeline south from Chittenden County to Middlebury and then under Lake Champlain to a paper mill in Ticonderoga, NY. 

Toby Talbot / AP

Since the Shumlin administration took office a little over two years ago, its major single payer health care policy initiative has rolled steadily forward. The administration won approval for the foundational legislation it needed by a comfortable margin, and the follow-up legislation passed easily, as well.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

Lawmakers are set to vote on a bill this week that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for weeks and the bill is likely to pass Tuesday afternoon.

A new law that treats bullying the same as harassment has begun to take effect across the state.

Schools must now investigate bullying more aggressively. At least two staff members have to be designated in every school to handle complaints of harassment or bullying.

Ken Page is Executive Director of the Vermont Principal's Association, explains the rules: 

On Tuesday, lawmakers are set to mark-up and vote on a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for weeks on a bill that would decriminalize two ounces of pot and a version of the measure is likely to pass in the afternoon.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also continue to look at its version of a decriminalization bill.

Governor Peter Shumlin's plan to finance a major expansion of child care programs is sharply dividing Vermont's early childhood community.

Within the state's early childhood community, there's almost unanimous support for the Governor's plan to significantly increase funding for child care subsidies and to boost rates for providers.  But there's a huge disagreement over how to pay for the initiative.

Toby Talbot / AP

The state has issued its latest report on the progress of the recovery effort following Tropical Storm Irene.

The report says while some work remains, it's time to look ahead to guard against future disasters.

Two years ago, lawmakers endowed a five-person panel with the power to tell doctors how much they can charge patients for health care services. Now, some physicians with private practices say the rate-setting authority could put them out of business.

As part of a health care reform initiative launched under Gov. Peter Shumlin, lawmakers have intensified oversight of the medical industry, and granted unprecedented powers to a board that now regulates doctors and hospitals.

Vermont Lawmakers this week looked at legislation that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. VPR's Bob Kinzel lays out the arguments in favor and against and discusses the likelihood of the bill's passage with Peter Biello.

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